Fears of a resurge of terrorism are igniting debate on Islam and radicalization in Moroccan scholarly circles.
Rabat – Morocco’s ulema, a body of religious clerics, have launched an assault on radicalization, vowing to counter its messages and stop the spread of “textual and erroneous” interpretation of religious texts.
The Mohammedia League of Scholars, Morocco’s ulema or highest body of Islamic scholars, met on Friday, December 28, to discuss how to counter the “worrying spread” of radicalization. The scholars sought to find ways to counter radical discourse and equip both the public and imams with sufficient training and general knowledge to “resist the radicalization trap.”
Speaking after the Friday meeting, Ahmed Abbadi, the league’s secretary general, said that the ulema seeks to simplify and uphold Morocco’s Maliki tradition of Islamic practice, which is “grounded in tolerance and openness.”
According to Abbadi, the radicalization industry is thriving in many countries and in some quarters in Morocco because a number of believers are not sufficiently informed to discriminate between messages.
“The practice of Islamic jurisprudence should reflect social changes,” Abbadi said. He explained that in today’s context of globalization and rapid changes in the communication industry, Islamic scholars need to invest in social networks and other communication channels to detect and counter the rhetoric of radical groups which are already established on such platforms.
Instead of their traditional reactionary attitude towards social changes, religious clerics ought to “positively react” to social transformations and take them into account in making sense of the world for believers. Abbadi explained, “An effective Islamic jurisprudence in the 21st century must think and accompany its environment’s social changes.”
Religious teaching today should be both accessible and updated to “immunize the people” against the constant danger of radicalization, he argued.
Abbadi’s statements come amid fears of a revival of terrorism following the double murder of Scandinavian tourists in Morocco and news of a prospective return of former ISIS fighters.
Founded in 2006 by royal decree, the Mohammedia League of Scholars is part of Morocco’s counter-terrorism efforts. Operating on the ideological front, the body is charged with training “a new generation of Islamic scholars and imams” to disseminate religious tolerance and prevent the spread of radical Islamism.