Muslim Youth And Radicalization


The following is a comment by Yasir Qadhi which was posted on the Saving Our Youth from the Disease of Radicalism article on  I thought it was quite brilliant and helpful.  I hope that the Muslim youth who consider radicalization carefully ponder over the following verses of the Quran:

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do. (Quran 5:8)

And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty. (Quran 5:2)

Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. (Quran 60:8)

Yasir Qadhi Comments:

Salaam Alaikum

The root of the problem, as I see it and discussed in my previous article, is that most of the youth who are sympathetic to radical views are viewing the world in a two-camp state (and reading specific hadith that might apply at specific times as if they are applying to our times and situation). ‘You are either with us or against us’ is the philosophy.

And one ‘us’ is America with all of its foreign policy, and the other ‘us’ is Awlaki and Bin Laden.

Herein, of course, lies the problem. As I said in my previous article, if those are the only two options, we are in serious trouble. I don’t view myself as being on either side in such a simplistic equation.

Yes, it does appear from what we know at this stage that the FBI entrapped this kid, manipulated him, brainwashed him, paid him (after depriving him of a legitimate job), set him up, arrested him and then used him as a ‘trophy’ in their ‘War on (of?) Terror’. All of this seems (as of yet) patently obvious. But in the end of the day (if we are to believe this report), the kid was actually brainwashed and did believe that he would kill these people in the name of his religion.

So, on the one hand, while I am furious at the FBI for their dirty and filthy underhanded tactics, I am also furious at this kid and his lack of Islamic knowledge and his misplaced zeal for actually wanting to kill people, thinking that this will benefit the religion. I wish I could sue the FBI for their tactics, but I also realize that the kid will most likely go to jail for pushing a button that he truly thought would kill civilians.

What side does that make me on then? The answer is: neither.

Most of these youth have a misplaced anger. They become so blind with rage against specific American politics that anyone who possibly criticizes our own youth for legitimate reasons is automatically labelled as being in agreement with those politics. Again, its the ‘two-camp’ view of the world.

I have said it again and again, and repeat it here: the root cause of radicalization is foreign policy. Period. There are not ifs, ands or buts about it. If we can solve the foreign policy issue, we would have solved radicalization.

Does this justify that radicalization? Of course not. When a young, zealous mind feels that rage growing and growing, and finds people to nurture that rage in an unhealthy direction (in this case, the FBI!), it will eventually turn to militancy.

We keep on saying ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’. Excellent. So we need to change foreign policy, and we also need to work on our youth to express their anger in legitimate ways instead of illegitimate ones.

Let some of us work on foreign policy and affecting it in a positive manner. Our youth really are naive about this issue and believe that no change can ever come about. They are woefully ignorant of the American political process. This is America, and when you have quantity and money, effective lobbying and public education does indeed have an impact (and its all a part of American politics). If a group of people originally from a foreign country could recently effect Congress in such a manner as to pass a resolution declaring a certain act that occurred almost a hundred years ago to be a genocide, believe me, it is possible to do other things as well (and for the record, I know that the ‘Armenian issue’ is one that is highly emotional amongst many groups of people and I have witnessed many outbursts from both sides, so I am not taking sides myself on whether it was a genocide or not as I have not researched it).

But I myself am not in the business of politics. I cannot change foreign policy as effectively as I can influence the Muslim community. So for me, I see it more relevant and pertinent to try to direct this anger in our youth to more conducive and responsible good. That does not mean that I am siding with our government in its foreign policies or domestic entrapments. It merely means that I view the actions of these youths to be in violation of our Islamic laws. And I also view their actions to cause more HARM than good – what good will it do if Faisal Shehzad blew a car up in Times Square, or if this kid killed a few hundred people, or if al-Qaeda launched another attack on US soil killing innocent civilians? Forget the religion issue (even though I can’t believe someone thinks killing non-combatants and women and children is allowed?), what is the benefit gained?

As everyone living in America knows, if we continue to allow these youth to be influenced (by the FBI’s false entrapments, or by Awlaki) it will only make foreign policy worse (as people’s attentions will be directed to other matters rather than addressing the issue at hand), and it will also make domestic policies more restrictive.

Therefore, I will continue (and I know our scholars that we all look up to and associate with in this land will continue) to concentrate on what we are more effective at: educating the Muslims about how best to respond, and how best to channel their concerns and anger.

We are all devastated when we see the effects of US drones on Afghani children, or the expulsion of Palestinians from their lands, or the imprisonment of our youth and women and scholars. But killing every American you see on the street won’t benefit anyone in the short or long run, and even more blood will be shed.

And by the way, that ‘American’ that you wish to target, might just be the guy who prays next to me at the Masjid, or the hijabi mother I see attending my classes, or the neighborhood friends my own children play with, or even my own son or daughter.

So do you think that I can remain quiet when the stake are so high?

I’m afraid this won’t be the last time you see articles targeting radicalization amongst our youth, either from MM or from myself.


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