It only wasn’t realized among those who refused to see what was in front of their faces, but this new study in any case shows once again that the claim that jihad terrorists know little about Islam is false.
An Islamic theologian has investigated how radicalization of Muslims in Europe is related to their knowledge of their own religion. The widespread view that radical Muslims know little about Islam is wrong.
According to a study, Islamic teaching plays a greater role in the radicalization of young Muslims in Europe than is often assumed. Frustration and a lack of career prospects alone are in no way a motive for the transformation from the Muslim to the Islamist, according to the study of the Islamic theologian Ednan Aslan, who was quoted by the newspaper “Die Tagespost” on Wednesday.
The widespread opinion that radical Muslims have mostly little knowledge of their religion has not been confirmed, according to the 310-page investigation published on Tuesday. It is based on 29 biographical interviews with delinquent Muslims in Austria.
Why Islam is so immune to reform
Aslan, who is a professor of Islamic Religious Education at the University of Vienna, emphasizes that the “intensive examination of theological topics” represents a turning point in their lives for many respondents. His conclusion: “Regardless of their religious knowledge, a radicalized person sees in theology an opportunity to give meaning and structure to their lives.” It is interesting to note that the majority of the respondents come from observant, religious Muslim backgrounds and that their foundations in Islam already existed before their radicalization.
“The radical individuals are the only true Muslims”
Salafism is understood by those affected as a holistic concept that governs all areas of life. Radical milieus provide logistical support and help spread Islamic and Jihadist thought. A central role was played by certain mosques and religious authorities: “Persons with a higher theological knowledge function as authorities and play a central role in the spread of ideology,” the study
It is important that the process of radicalization is not only a demarcation from secular Western society, but also from the majority of Muslims. “The radical groups and individuals see themselves as the only true Muslims,” the study said.
The social environment is perceived as rotten, democracy is rejected, the West is declared the enemy of the Muslim world. The 18-month empirical study was supported by the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A recent study on the jihadist youth scene in Germany had come to a different conclusion. According to this, radicalized youths know very little about Islam and construct their own world outlook in an unreflective way.
According to the study, young people who are in a critical phase of life are especially vulnerable. Triggers could be, for example, experiences by parents, death in the family or drug use. “The jihadist appeal provides them with places where they belong and the chance of a new start exactly where they are not aided by society,” says the violence researcher and study supervisor Andreas Zick.
However, the study of the University of Bielefeld pursued a different approach and had analyzed WhatsApp chat protocols of a Salafist youth group.