Tackling the Twin Threats of Islamophobia and Puritanical Islamist Extremism: Case Study of the Hizmet Movement
Islamophobia and Puritanical Islamist Extremism are closely related, self-referential, mutually reinforcing phenomena. While these opposite ideological camps consistently and symbiotically reinforce each other at the expense of Islam, Muslims and peaceful co-existence, they are perpetuated in the absence of knowledge, practice and interaction that positively disrupts the confluence between and within them. The Hizmet Movement does not aim to defeat Islamophobia or Puritanical Islamist Extremism head on. Rather, it is our contention that the core Islamic teachings that underpin the movement’s values and practice undermine the ideology and mindset of these two mutually reinforcing camps as a natural by-product and default outcome of its positive work. Accordingly, the goal of defeating extremism is made to ensue without being directly pursued. By doing so, this process helps to complexify matters pertaining to religious interpretation and representation while also promoting critical thinking, self-reflexivity, proactivism, empathy, openness to the other and intercultural exchange.