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Migration to the West and Radicalization of the Muslims

by Alamgir Hossain

07 Mar, 2006

One striking trait of the Muslim is their radically increased attachment towards religious piety once they arrive in the West. Many of these Muslims hardly ever bother to say prayers when in their home countries. But they suddenly start following daily rituals of Islam steadfastly and even start engaging themselves in the cause of spreading the faith amongst the infidels of their new home. In this essay, I will discuss a few examples from my own experience which, I believe, would represent the general trend about a shift in Muslims' attitude and activities towards increased and often radical religiosity once they migrate to the West.

While studying in India about a decade-and-half ago, I had met Muslim friends from many countries, including India, Afghanistan, Iran and Bangladesh. Since I was from a rural conservative Muslim family, I often to used feel surprised by many of my Muslim friends' modern life-style, such as liberal mixing with the friends of the opposite sexes, since such behavior was against the prescribed codes of Islam. One such friend was a classmate, a girl, whose uninhibited mixing with boys of various nationalities, races and religions, her modern dress-ups and her active participation in various cultural programs and stage performances, including dancing and modeling, used to shock me. While trying to locate her recently, I found her in the US studying for a PhD degree. But I was stuck with disbelief to see her in a photo wearing a long hijab.

I had met a senior Muslim friend there, who could not sleep a night without consuming a quarter of whisky. He was a champion drinker. After finishing his studies, he returned to his Muslim homeland where he continued this habit despite the numerous social restrictions and difficulty in getting alcoholic drinks. He moved to the United States a few years ago through some dishonest means. I was astonished to learn that he is now a radical Islamist, he wears Mullah-style Islamic dresses and his wife wears Burqa. He never misses a single prayer; he doesn't touch alcohol anymore; he never eats outside fearing he might happen to eat something non-halal (not Islamically sacrificed animal meat etc.) and he is so radical that he could probably do anything for his religion.

Then there was another friend whom I had met about a decade ago. He would hardly engage in prayer rituals other than the Friday noon-time prayer and I never saw his wife ever praying. They have now moved to the West. When I visited them in their new home, I was shocked beyond belief. This friend is a solid Islamist; he does not miss a single prayer under whatsoever difficulty. If he is driving when it is time for prayers, he would stop his car on the side of the road to say his prayer on time. He would frequently advise you to follow the rituals of Islam strictly. His wife, who used to wear pretty modern and sometimes sexy dresses, now wears long overflowing hijab and does not miss a single prayer either.

To be noted that last time, a bunch of our friends used to go for outdoor gatherings, sometimes to the beaches and my friend and his wife would enthusiastically join us every time. We used to play various games and some of us wearing swimming costumes or even plain underwear. His wife used to join us happily. As I was a quite conservative person then, I used to find it rather unusual for young Muslim woman joining a hoard of semi-naked men.

These friends are now so radically religious that none of them would go to modern Western Banks for a loan if they need money for buying a house or for any kind of investment, because they have to pay interest which is allegedly prohibited in Islam. There have mushroomed numerous so-called Islamic banks and these people would do business with those banks instead. Interestingly, these banks also charge them the similar amount money for loans but they call it service charge, not interest.

What is astonishing is that when these Muslim friends were in their home (Muslim) countries, they used to do business with the traditional banks happily and the thought of sinfulness in paying interest for loaned money would never have crossed their mind. It is also certain that if these friends had to stay in their home country because of lack of opportunities to move to the West, they would not only have done business with those banks€”they would even have been paying a good sum of bribe to the bank officers for getting a handsome loan without ever thinking that they were committing illegal criminal acts. Paying interest for a loan, which they consider sinful, is not criminal though. To be noted that paying bribes for almost any kind of office dealings, such as in banks, in most Muslim countries is a norm, not an exception.

Such is the level of hypocrisy Muslims display in different situations. When in their impoverished home country, they routinely commit criminal acts like paying bribes for getting favor from an institution and any thoughts of regret or contrition ever cross their minds. But when are in a Western country, they will actively play their part in destroying the similar but much more honest, efficient, corruption-free and good service-oriented institutions, which now become un-Islamic and sinful to them. One thing becomes evident from this discussion is that when Muslims become a dominant force in the Western countries, the traditional banking system run by the infidel Westerners, are bound to face viability crisis with the Muslims shunning them actively. Such a trend is already clearly evident.

Why this change? It's a riddle!

The sudden change towards religious radicalization of the psyche and attitude of the Muslims once they step into the West is baffling in the least. For example, alcohol is banned in most Muslim countries. In those Muslim countries, where sale of alcohol is allowed to non-Muslims citizens such as in Malaysia and Indonesia, Muslims are banned from buying and consuming it. Muslims face criminal arrest and even imprisonment if found to consume alcoholic drinks in those countries. More risky factor is that socially it is very degrading if some Muslim person is caught consuming alcohol. Yet, I have seen many of my friends would take all these risks to drink alcohols whenever an opportunity is presented to them in their home country. When the same persons move to the West, it is naturally expected that they would get more used to alcoholic drinks given that there is no fear of arrest, imprisonment and social degradation. Furthermore it is cheaper, much more affordable and readily available. Yet in reality, they start detesting it. Isn't that a riddle?

Muslims in their own country routinely do banking with the traditional Western banks and in the process they frequently pay illegal bribes to the officials for various favors and purposes€”especially if one is applying for a loan. In Pakistan or Bangladesh, it is almost a norm that when you apply for a loan, you must pay a good sum of money to the officers as bribes. Whereas in the Western countries there is virtually no opportunity for paying bribes, you get excellent service and a much better respect as a customer. Such banking service is unimaginable in Muslims countries. So, when Muslims move to the West, they should be extremely happy to do business with such excellent banking system. But instead, they start shunning these banks and opt for the Islamic ones. If there is no Islamic bank available, they will do without necessary banking thereby causing unnecessary difficulty to themselves. What a riddle?

Coming to my female classmate, leading a liberal life-style, such as uninhibited mixing with boys irrespective of religious and racial affiliations and performing in stage-shows etc., raises eyebrows in the religiously conservative society of her home country. It is less acceptable of a girl. One has to bear with various unpalatable remarks and taunts from surrounding people and sometimes censorship from family, friends, neighbors and relatives. Yet she used to defy all these obstacles and participate in performances including dance and fashion shows enthusiastically. Similarly, a more conservative dress-up like wearing burqa or hijab is more desirable in her home country but she would always be happy on Jeans and T-shirts. She would have resisted any such imposition (wearing burqa or hijab) on her when she was living in her home-country. Given her quite iconoclastic attitude against the restrictive social and religious traditions, she should have been more comfortable and used to the liberal life-style when she had the opportunity to step into a Western country. But the reality is exactly the opposite. She now rejects what she used to like whilst in her home-countries, despite having an extremely conducive situation in her new home. She has now embraced a lifestyle and costumes that she used to detest in the face of many difficulties in her own country. What a riddle?

Reasons for Muslims' radicalization after arrival in the West

After talking to Muslim and non-Muslim friends from different backgrounds and from my own analysis and understanding, I have culled a list of reasons that probably lead Muslims towards religious radicalization after they move to the West. One reason being given is that Muslims suffer from an identity crisis. I could not grasp what this identity crisis truly means. However, people of other religions coming from the same countries with similar socio-cultural backgrounds do not seem to suffer from such a crisis. Whatsoever that identity crisis might mean, my reading is that Muslims probably want to be different and seek to hold themselves on a higher moral ground from the rest. This attitude is rooted in Muslims' belief that Islam is the best religion and hence Muslims are the best people, blessed with divine privilege from the almighty creator of the Universe.

The most obvious reason, however, is that it is their hatred or dislikes for the Western culture, society and way of life. This can be easily asserted from the fact that Muslims tend to become more conservative overnight when they are faced with the liberal Western culture, society and way of life in their new home. Muslims, in general, display a weird and yet strong hatred towards sexually liberal cultures which they consider unIslamic and sinful. This attitude of the Muslims in fact contradicts with the real teachings of Islam which preaches mindless sexual promiscuity - albeit in a one-sided and unjust way. For example, Islam allows Muslim men to marry up to 4 women at the same time, not the vice-versa. On top of that, Islam allows the male masters to have sex with their female (war) captives and slaves, too. This is what Koran says on this:

If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice. [Q 4.3]

And those who guard their chastity, Except with their wives and the (captives) whom their right hands possess, - for (then) they are not to be blamed, [Q 70:29-30]

Thus promiscuity, reserved only for men, remains rife in the Muslim countries, especially in Middle East€”the heartland of the Islamic faith. Accordingly, overt sexual promiscuity was one of the greatest hallmark of Islam's Prophet. The Prophet had broken the Koranic stipulation of maximum 4 wives and had taken more than a dozen wives at the same time. In his last pilgrimage (Haj) to Mecca in the twilight days of his life, he was accompanied by 9 of his young wives€”the youngest, named Ayesha being only 17 years old whom he had married at the age of 6 and consummated when she was 9. On top of this, he used to have sexual tangos with at least one slave (Maria, the Egyptian Coptic Christian slave) and a war captive (Rihanah of Banu Quraiza Tribe), in according with the prescription of the Koran. Most of the greatest heroes of Islam and Prophet Muhammad's own companions used to have multiple of wives plus unaccounted number of war-captive and slave women for sex. Prophet Muhammad's grandson Imam Hassan married 100 wives in his lifetime without without four at a time.

Impact of Radicalization on Next Generation Muslims

Dr. Ghayasuddin Siddiqui - leader of the Muslim Parliament and the Director of The Muslim Institute (London) - in an essay titled "Road of Muslim Dignity" expressed his disappointment at the attitude of UK-born young Muslims towards hijab. He wrote:

"During a debate on the subject of hijab organized by the Oxford Student's Islamic Society a few months ago I made the point that the Quran stresses modesty of apparel for both men and women. Surprisingly, the audience was reluctant to accept this idea. More scary was the fact that these young people of above-average intelligence seemed more interested in securing a position in the afterlife than in improving their own and others' lot in this one."

Dr Siddiqui's frustration, however, outlines the fact as to how the second and subsequent generation UK-born young Muslim immigrants have become more radicalized as compared to their parents and grandparents who had migrated directly from their home countries. The underlying reasons for this increased level of bigotry and radicalism amongst the later generation immigrants are not very difficult to comprehend either.

The first generation migrants tend to become more religious after moving to the Western countries, firstly as a result of culture-shock as they suddenly face up to a shockingly different life-style. Secondly, they seek to protect their children from the influence of what they consider decadent and sinful Western culture€”which is identified by the liberal dress-ups, allegedly perverse pleasure and entertainment culture and sinful sexual behaviors, such as premarital sex. These newly arrived immigrants find it extremely difficult to consume a situation in which their unmarried young sons and daughters will bring their girlfriends and boyfriends home and engage in sinful sexual acts before marriage etc. Such fear is redoubled when the child is a daughter. Hence, they turn closer to religion mainly to shield their children early from the influence of the allegedly degrading and sinful Western influences. And the standard protocol for this shielding act is to teach their children the following as soon as they start comprehending things around them:

  1. The Western culture is perverse and sinful
  2. Islam is the only true religion, which disapproves of such social behavior
  3. If you take up of this sinful culture, Allah would burn you in hell for eternity
  4. So, try not to mix up with the non-Muslims Western people, try to minimize the contacts with the locals and definitely do not pick up local values and cultures.

These teachings definitely amount to hatred towards the Western social behaviors and cultural values. When divine disapproval is attached to this, the hatred becomes much more potent. If such teaching is fed into the youngest of minds to brainwash them into hating the local lifestyle, the effect of it on the psyche and attitude of the young kids is definitely going to be dangerous. Young minds, at some points, are prone to experience a fantasy of making our world into a pure and sacred dreamland. They dream of being able to destroy all these sinful stuffs around them one day to create such a sacred utopia. And there the problem starts.

Brainwashing: Islamist vs. Communist

There are some striking parallels between this indoctrination of new generation Muslims by their radicalized parents and the destructive indoctrination of the young by the communists during the last century, which continue to blithe many parts of the world even today. However, the communist doctrine is not a divine truth. It is man-made and is meant for creating an earthly utopia based on a so-called social justice. There is no self-interest in sacrificing for communist revolutions. Yet, millions of young men and women recklessly sacrificed their lives at the call of the communist revolutionaries. And the strategy has been very simple: Catch them young for brainwashing to turn them into irreversible "killing machines".

Despite this parity, Islamic brainwashing of the young in the Western countries has some profound differences which make the brainwashed Muslim youths a greater weapon of destruction for the following reasons:

  1. Firstly, the communists used to catch them young; the Muslim kids are caught younger.
  2. The communist brainwashing used to be done often by strangers in secret camps and hiding places etc. Muslim children's brainwashing starts at home (24/7) by their own parents, grandparents, elder siblings and relatives.
  3. Communist brainwashing is based on a manmade utopian idea of social justice which is not necessarily perfect. Islamic brainwashing for social justice and way of life which is divine and perfect, ordained by the infallible supreme creator. Subscribing to the concept of equality to each member of society as ordained in communist ideology is not binding on anybody since it can be likened to some kind of charity. But someone's duty to his/her creator is binding, since he is indebted to the creator for his life and everything else. Since, the supreme creator is considered the infallible king of all wisdom and knowledge, his jurisdiction becomes absolutely binding to a believer.
  4. There is no punishment if one does not participate in a communist revolution especially in a presumed afterlife. However, if one does not perform one's duty to the creator, the latter would punish him unimaginably harshly, such as by burning in hell-fire for eternity. There are also punishments prescribed in this world as enforced in Islamic societies ruled by Sharia.
  5. More importantly, performing one's duty to Allah as prescribed in Koran would land him in heaven in afterlife€”a land of eternal bliss and happiness, including unlimited sexual indulgence with 70 celestial virgins which Muslims desire so much. In communist ideology, there are no such rewards for their participation in deadly revolutions for establishing the so-called social equality and justice.

The Islamic radicalism and communist revolution, although, have parallels in that both indoctrinations lead people to morbid withdrawal from earthly indulgence and to a Lemming-like attitude towards self-destruction in their effort to create the utopia they believe in. In the process, they cause destruction and sufferings to those whom they do not agree with. Yet, the suicidal machines created by the Islamic brainwashing should make the young Muslims of the West much greater weapons of destruction than that caused by communist indoctrination for the list of reasons mentioned. Still, the communists have caused immense destruction to life and property during the last century, amounting to a massive 100 million human deaths (approximately), which continue blithe human lives even today in isolated pockets across the world.

There is another dimension to it. Majority of the Muslim countries were colonized by the Europeans during the last centuries. Non-Muslim countries were also colonized by the Western powers but the grievance and hatred amongst the Muslims against former Western colonizers remain the strongest. The Western colonialists have looted Muslim countries. That is why their home-countries are poor and are in all kinds of mess. Yet, many non-Muslim countries, also equally exploited by the European colonizers, are marching towards progress and prosperity whilst Muslim countries continue to spiral downwards. And these non-Muslims never harbor the same kind of grievance against their former imperial masters as do the Muslims.

It should also be understood that the art of colonization and exploitation/looting was initiated by the Muslims on to the world stage - started by the Prophet of Islam himself in the early 7th century, which continued well into the 19th century Ottoman period. The Europeans mastered this art from the Muslims only, albeit about a millennium later.

And what about America that has never colonized any Muslim country? Of course, Muslims still have loads of grievance against America too and it is America's hold on the Muslim countries' oil resources. This is despite the fact that America has been buying the oil at fair prices, not looting it from those countries. Without the technology of America and other Western countries, the Muslim countries could never produce the oil. If America and the West would not buy the oil, oil-rich Muslim countries, that have achieved a good deal of wealth and prosperity, would have been in desperate poverty. Yet, the white nations have to face the wrath of the Muslims when the former should have deserved appreciation vis- -vis the exploration and exploitation of Muslim countries' oil resources.

In a nutshell, these grievances also play a big part in building anti-West hatred amongst the Muslims. It should now be easy to grasp what kind of weapons of destruction Muslim parents of the West create in their second, third and fourth generation children by feeding them with extreme hatred and morbid withdrawal syndrome from the worldly life around them. These kids when become young men, they surely feel a duty to their God and seek to destroy the society and culture of filth, sins and impiety in order to create a perfect Islamic utopia. Such a desire lives in their minds although opportunity often deprives them from executing their solemn desire and sacred duty. And when an opportunity is presented to them, they grab it with eager zeal. So, we witness the incidences like what happened in London on July 7, 2005.

However, it should be made clear here that most of the first generation Muslim parents get attached to religions after migrating to the West hoping that watching them and taking their advice, the children will keep away from the sinful influences of the local society. They do not wish that their kids should become suicide bombers. They become suicide bombers or volunteer themselves in violent acts only when they get in touch with radical Imams and elders, who preach and promote such violent acts and provide the logistics. Yet, it is the parents who do the grounding for turning those children into suicide bombers. If parents do teach the children from childhood that morally there is nothing wrong in Western society and culture, these children are very unlikely to become such suicidal machines of destruction.

I have been talking to my Muslim friends over the last couple of years about how this radicalization of the first generation immigrants after arriving in the West can poison the minds of their young children and how that could make the newer generation Muslims increasingly prone to violence. My thought was that these second and third generation kids would become more likely recruits for suicide bombing than their parent themselves. I had heated discussions on this issue with a few Muslim friends in the US in the last week of June, 2005. They pooh-poohed my thoughts. In two weeks' time, my prediction turned into a tragic reality when four second or third generation British Muslim youths launched a suicidal mission to cause terrible destruction to life and properties in London on July 7, 2005.

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