The Role of Family Education in the Protection of Children from Terrorism
The Methodological Framework of the Study: the Problems and Questions the Study Raises:
Terrorism has recently become a serious social, economic and political issue in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, especially since some terrorists believe that these terrorist actions are heroic religious deeds. This study focuses on the role of family education in protecting children from terrorism, since families can raise citizenship awareness, develop human behavior, and create good and responsible citizens.
Needless to say, the Saudi society has been bestowed with safety, security, and national unity, for Saudi Arabia is home to the Two Holy Mosques, and applies Islamic Law. Furthermore, Article IX of the Saudi Constitution stipulates the following: (The Saudi society places a lot of importance on family ties and familial education; therefore, the family should teach its members the proper form of Islamic faith, in order to create loyal citizens who respect the system and love their country). In light of the current circumstances and the spread of misconceptions among groups that have resorted to extremist interpretations of Islam, moderate family education is strongly required in countries like Saudi Arabia. Education helps implement the moderate teachings of Islam, enlightens citizens, and teaches individuals that the use of force and violence to bring about change is heinous crime against their countries and societies.
Some social and anthropological studies conducted on the Saudi society emphasized the weak educational roles of some families. This study will highlight the important role of family education in protecting children from terrorism, through the following sub-themes:
• The correct teachings of Islam and the implementation of moderate values help protect children from terrorism.
• The required measures to protect children from terrorism.
• The implementation of work ethics.
• Practicing democracy and freedom of opinion when dealing with children can help protect them from terrorism.
Second: The Concepts of the study:
The scientific concepts are the means used to express the ideas and facts that help guide the search path:
1. The Definition of Education:
Education is the basic learning skill necessary for creative work, the continuation of community, cultural change, and innovation (Ghaith, 1998, 152). The uses of this term generally refer to the mental and moral development of individuals, through the family or other educational organizations, for education teaches the young members of a society how to properly behave in various social situations through formal and informal education. Education also deals with human behavior, change, and the development of the skills, beliefs, and attitudes of the younger generation in order to bring up good and responsible citizens.
Accordingly, education is the social system that determines the impact of the family and school on the physical, mental and moral development of young people, and is the process that helps individuals adapt and fit into the society the live in. Likewise, familial education is the process of raising individuals’ awareness of the social, cultural, economic, political and psychological factors surrounding them, in order to achieve stability, happiness, and social development. Familial education also helps individuals overcome the temptations of the ever changing world. (Daabas, 1999, 117).
2. The Definition of Terrorism:
Identifying a clear and precise concept of the term “terrorism” has become one of the most controversial issues all over the world. This is due to the varying understandings of the term in each society. Some believe that a terrorist is an advocate of freedom and religion, while others consider terrorists criminals. Nevertheless, the linguistic definition of the word “terrorism” in Arabic, refers to fear and horror, and thus the term “terrorist” is used to designate those who resort to violence and force to achieve their goals (The brief Lexicon, 1990 0.32 ).
Furthermore, the word “terrorism” refers to any act that causes imbalance in society and involves violence, such as, hijacking, bombing, abduction, assassination in the name of religion, destroying public property, and using violence to achieve political and religious goals. (Morris, 1991, 53).
Wardlow defines terrorism as “The use of violence by individuals or organizations to spread fear among the members of society, and massacre a large number of victims in order to achieve political objectives.” Mohammad Sibai defines terrorism as “The horror caused by acts of violence such as murder, explosives or sabotage, in order to establish a new government.” (Sibai, 1991, 36).
This means that terrorism is an organized violent act or threat carried out by organized groups, directed to countries, or political and ideological groups, in order to spread instability and chaos, and take control of a certain society (Daabas, 1994, 9). Accordingly, the researcher defines terrorism as “A violent action carried out by individuals or organizations, in order to achieve political objectives through spreading terror and chaos, and sabotaging public and private property.”
Third: The Research Methodology:
This study shall use the descriptive analytical approach.
Fourth: Previous Research and Studies:
The researcher went through a number of studies on terrorism and extremism and reviewed the following studies, which are directly related to this study:
1. “Countering Extremism through Islamic Guidance” by Mr. Afifi:
This study deals with the role of Islamic Guidance in spreading the call to Islam and cites the lack of proper planning for the call to Islam. It also stresses the need to correct religious misconceptions of Egyptian youth, whose religious revival objectives may sometimes contribute to extremism. The researcher then proposed an educational strategy to counter extremism. (Afifi, 1993).
2. “Economic and Political Changes and Social Issues that Fuel Terrorism,” by Muhammad Hamed Youssef:
This study identifies the psychological, economic and social factors that fuel terrorism and help to create terrorist groups. It also denotes the psychological and social characteristics of terrorist groups, and explains the implications of joining extremist groups, as well as the factors that contribute to the success of the operations carried out by some terrorist groups. (Youssef, 1995).
3. “The Religious Values of Young People from the Perspective of Social Service,” by Nourhan Mounir Fahmi:
This study found that proper religious education, and the implementation of work ethics, can prevent university students from falling prey to extremism, and that university students need to join organized religious groups in order to properly understand the rules of religion. (Fahmi, 1999).
4. “Youths’ Trends and Problems,” an Empirical Study conducted by Abdullah Ghuloom Hussain and Abdul Rauf Abdul Aziz, Kuwait:
This study addresses the problems associated with the growth of young people, such as behavioral abnormalities, alienation, violence and rebellious dispositions. It also addresses youths’ circumstances in Kuwait and the Arabian Gulf. The study sample consisted of 73 Kuwaiti youths aged 18-24 years, who answered 71 questions. According to the study, participants showed positive attitudes towards educational institutions, family, constitutional institutions, the press, and the Arab-Gulf Cooperation, and they showed negative attitudes towards work ethics, youth centers, and schools that failed to solve the behavioral problems of young people.
(Ghuloom and Jerdawi, 1985).
5. “Youth and Extremism,” an Evaluation Study, by Muhammad Sayed Fahmi:
This study identifies social trends and activities that can guide young people, and shows that an intellectual vacuum and weak religious culture may push youth to fall prey to religious extremism. It also shows a positive relationship between the university extracurricular activities and the prevention of religious extremism. (Fahmi, 1995).
6. “The Role of Islamic Education in Countering Terrorism,” by Khaled Saleh Zahiri:
This study found a number of results, most notably that the improper teaching of religious courses in some Muslim countries was the main cause behind the emergence of terrorism. It also focuses on the educational role of high schools in the implementation of proper Islamic education through school activities. The study also calls for cooperation between social and educational institutions, and security services in order to counter terrorism. (Zahiri, 2002).
The Theoretical Framework of the Study:
The researcher addresses the theoretical aspects that help form individuals’ personalities through objective and scientific analysis. These topics are presented as follows:
A. Instilling Correct and Moderate Islamic Values in Children:
Familial education should place emphasis on forming responsible and morally upright individuals who follow the proper form of Islam and practice the proper form of Islamic worship (Aljuwair, 1415, 22 – 30). Familial education should also teach children the proper meaning of the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, so that youth do not fall prey to terrorist groups that take advantage of their religious misconceptions. Furthermore, familial education should also contribute to the proper understanding of Islam through teaching children the approach of the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah, and the methods of fair exhortation. For Allah the exalted said, “Call to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation” (An-Nahl: 125). He also said, “Whoever has been given wisdom has certainly been given much good”(Al-Baqarah: 269). The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “Whenever gentleness is found in something, it adorns it, and when it is removed from something, it blemishes it.”
The family should also emphasize that bringing about change and reform through the use of force and violence contradicts the moderate teachings of Islam, and that only heretical sects like the Mutazilites and the Kharijites resort to such atrocious methods. The family should also teach children to comply with what Allah has enjoined, and to obey Allah, His Messenger, and those in authority, as Allah said, “O you who believe, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority over you” (An-Nisa: 59).
B. Fulfilling their Children’s Needs:
Psychologists defined “needs” as a state of shortage, and a physical and psychological disorder, which causes tension and distress that can never be relieved until that certain need is fulfilled, for needs are the drives that guide human behavior. In order for children to perform the social role required of them, parents must understand and fulfill their children’s psychological and social needs, for studies conducted on young people have found that they developed the tendency to join terrorist groups due to several psychological reasons, including unfulfilled needs and growth issues. The study also found that psychological deprivation was the main reason behind the emergence of 78% of terrorists.
The process of socialization plays an important role in the formation of human behavior and the social and psychological backgrounds of individuals are of great importance in determining behavioral and social patterns. Hence, parents should contribute to the psychological and social growth of children through helping them feel they belong to groups. Also, parents must not act in a way that would make their children feel unwanted, neglected, or ostracized; doing so could have a negative impact on the psychological and social growth of children at a later stage, since young people may try to belong to gangs to fulfill their sense of belonging and commitment. Terrorist groups’ teachings oppose the social and religious values of society, and thus individuals accept these inconsistent values in order to compensate for their psychological and social deprivation.
Some researchers also emphasize that parents giving their children attention and interacting with them is a preventative measure and barrier that can reduce the negative impact of groups and colleagues, since individuals will only establish superficial relationships with these groups, and thus won’t fall prey to their inconsistent values. (Saif, 2003: 45).
C. Instilling Work Ethics:
Parents are the key factor in instilling values, through communication and family education, (Mari, 1984, Resourcefulness, 1998). Parents also play a major role in the teaching work ethics and values that help enforce young people’s sense of achievement, for free time and unemployment may provoke terrorist and criminal behavior, especially if the individual misuses this free time in mingling and socializing with bad companions. Glock showed in his study on criminal behavior that free time plays a major role in forming deviant behavior. He also found the following:
• Only 1% used their free time productively.
• Only 6% used their free time in an unproductive and a non-harmful way.
• 93% used their free time in a harmful way. (Joseph, 1995)
Thus, parents must work on filling their children’s free time with productive activities that help them interact and mingle with other members in the community, such as sports, reading clubs, religious and cultural activities, scientific societies, youth centers, and vocational education. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said in the Hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah, “By Him in Whose Hand my life is, it is better for anyone of you to take a rope and cut wood and carry it over his back and sell it (as a means of earning his living) rather than to ask a person for something and that person may give him or not.”
Unemployment may contribute to a temporary sense of frustration that can make some individuals fall prey to terrorist groups. One study suggested that the causes of extremism in Egypt include poverty and the lack of employment opportunities for graduates (Sharqawi, 1415).
D. Using Democracy and Freedom of Opinion when Dealing with Children:
“Freedom is the thing that makes individuals choose their own way without any pressure of any kind, so that they can become responsible for their own actions before God and before the law,” (Encyclopedia Arab World, 1995). Freedom of opinion refers to “Freedom of expression of ideas, and the exchange of political and social views, and freedom of expression,” (Arabic Encyclopedia World, 1995, 299). Freedom of opinion includes discussion, decision-making, listening skills, and respect for others’ opinions.
Parents must be democratic with their children, exercising listening skills and freedom of opinion when discussing terrorist incidents with their children, in order to clarify the negative impact and the formidable consequences of these heinous acts that harm countries and societies. Parents must also implement the values of tolerance and flexibility, and offer advice and guidance to their children. An atmosphere of familial harmony and cohesion can raise children’s awareness of the proper social attitudes and patterns inside and outside the family, and can also contribute to the psychological development of children, which allows them to accept differences of opinion.
Democratic Education is defined as, “The social system which emphasizes the value, dignity, and humanity of the individual, and is based on the participation of the members of the community or family in managing their affairs.” Democracy also means freedom of opinion, citizenship rights and responsibilities, and peoples’ right to choose their own way, freedom of expression and belief without social, economic, political, or ethnic discrimination. (Nazer, 2001, 60)
Needless to say, democratic families will produce a democratic generation with Islamic values that help enforce the concepts of virtue, security, human rights, respect for rights and duties, peaceful coexistence, respect for minorities, and resolving differences through dialogue and discussion. In other words, familial education enforces democracy, and produces democratic individuals that reject intolerance (Nazer, 2001, 88). To conclude, family education that is based on freedom of opinion and democracy helps individuals obtain the ability to express their views, and raises their awareness of the danger terrorism poses to society.
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