14 May 2014
THE toppling of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is not the only reason foreign fighters are flocking to the country. The apocalypse and other end-of- the-world prophesies are also providing a powerful if less obvious call to arms there.
At one level, the three-year- old conflict that has left some 150,000 dead is a sectarian power struggle pitting Sunni Muslims against Mr Assad, who is backed by Iran, the dominant Shi’ite power in the region.
But this conflict has acquired an apocalyptic edge in recent times as both sides appeal for fighters to join their cause. South-east Asia has not been immune to this call.
… Associate research fellow Navhat Nuraniyah of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) says the end-of- the-world narrative is powerful because “in jihadist interpretation, the sequences of events as they are unfolding in Arabia and Syria seem to match the Prophet’s prediction”.
Scholars, however, point out problems in latching on to this doomsday narrative.
Dr Mohamed Ali cautions that Muslims without a good grounding in the religion would not know if the hadith being cited by these preachers are authentic and even if they are, whether they are being used in the right context.
“Who is to determine that the army carrying black banners is the one referred to in the hadith as the army from Khorasan?” asks Dr Mohamed, who is secretary of the Singapore Religious Rehabilitation Group, which provides counselling to detainees of the Jemaah Islamiah terrorist group.
… Second, by rebutting the arguments being put out by the doomsday preachers. In order to do so, Associate Professor Kumar Ramakrishna of RSIS suggests that religious leaders in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia pay close attention to what’s being said on social media.
CENS / GPO / RSIS / Print
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