This is how human learning works: when something is taught to us at a very young age, it never leaves our mind, it stays there.
As we learn, we try to incorporate our lessons in our lives as well. We learn to speak, eat, sleep and deal with people around us as we grow up. We never see someone who eats with his feet or talks gibberish in daily life because it is not normal to do so.
Similarly, religion is one of the basic principles of life that almost all of us are taught and are advised to implement in our lives as well. We are also taught that it is something so sacred that it must not be taken lightly in our daily lives. It is the most important and is without any doubt the most manipulated unit of our social and practical lives.
A child’s mind is a blank slate. Whatever is written on it follows on for as long as the person is alive. And when following a certain religion, then the word of God is almost inerasable.
The process of human learning is supported when people teach and direct to do a certain action or tell us that a particular belief is correct. When young children are taught something by their parents and teachers, they listen to it, believe it, follow it and carry it out in their lives if it is necessary.
When it comes to religion, especially the way it is practiced in developing and under-developed countries, not much attention is paid to the way it is taught. Since people don’t have anything else (like entertainment and education) to associate themselves to in such countries, religion becomes the center of their universe.
In Muslim countries, the religious teacher, a cleric, who is more commonly known as a Moulvi sometimes holds more importance in a child’s life than his own parents.
Some people sort of ‘dedicate’ their children to religion. They completely hand over their children’s lives to the teacher and ask them to make their offspring such devout Muslims that they could be the gateway to heaven for the whole family. .
And that’s where mostly the problem starts. Many of these teachers who are meant to be religious mentors often turn out to be manipulators instead. They misuse the authority that is given to them and through their teachings they infiltrate the innocent young minds which later turn out to be extremists or terrorists.
What Happens Next- Do As Directed
Keeping both of the points mentioned above, we now have a fact that says, religion is sacred and the one who teaches it is supreme. If you cannot doubt religion, you cannot doubt the teacher. Millions of young minds each and every day go through this learning process. They live their lives in it. Everything that they do or say is guided by their Moulvi. His word is law and anyone who says otherwise, is a non-believer. They are not even taught to agree to disagree. Everything works according to the teachings of the cleric who literally owns the lives of these young people.
Islam, in this regard, is by far the most manipulated religion. Regardless of ethnic backgrounds, countless young Muslims are indoctrinated by fanatic preachers. Since these so-called preachers use the path of religion to get inside the minds of young children, it is convenient as well as effective. Parents willingly let go of their kids into the hands of these fanatics thinking it is a religious obligation and thus starts the vicious cycle of intolerance and extremism.
Is religion responsible?
Of course, religion is not to be blamed. It is the fanatic preachers that should be held responsible for corrupting the young minds with made up and manipulated beliefs. Islam doesn’t preach terrorism or extremism. It is the people who do that. While many Muslims often say that these extremists cannot be called Muslims, one cannot deny the fact that they are in fact Muslims who emerge from the community.
The terror comes from the practitioners and not from the religion. Children who are taught to be terrorists are not exactly told that what they are doing is wrong and they have to do it anyway.
Instead they are told that they are doing a service to humanity for eternity. They are brainwashed with selected quotes from the Holy Book and incidents from history. They are not allowed to question and therefore remain in the dark regarding the whole truth.
Some may even say that education is the key to put an end to this extremism. But then we have examples of learned people who are as intolerant as the ones who are illiterate.
Extremism can only be injected. It is seldom acquired. And the key to eradicate terrorism and intolerance is to get rid of these fanatics. These self-proclaimed messengers of God who play with religion and vulnerable minds to achieve their ulterior goals are the real threat to humanity.