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A third difference in the upbringing concerns the experience of how our lives are generally shaped. Psychology talks about inner and outer locus of control. Western culture is dominated by a feeling of inner control. This means that we see ourselves as the main responsible for our own actions, situation and state of mind. We see the way we think, our own viewpoint, our ability to handle our emotions and the reactions, we chose as the main factor giving our lives direction and deciding our feelings of happiness and suffering. If we have personal problems we ask ourselves “What did I do wrong, what can I do different?” We look for the answers within and a whole industry of countless psychologists, therapists, coaches, self-help books and magazines are built up around this world view.
The Muslim world has nothing of this belief system and no industry of personal counseling. This is because it is dominated by an outer locus of control. Muslim societies have strict outer cultural traditions, religious rules, powerful male authorities and often totalitarian regimes deciding almost every aspect of the individual’s life. There is little – if any – room for reflecting on, questioning or criticizing these outer factors of control. When a Muslim has personal problems he or she is therefore very likely to ask “Who did this to me?” Where we in the West believe in the Free Will, Muslims have their ”Insha’ Allah”. Inner locus of control leads to self responsibility and increased ability of self-reflection. Outer locus of control leads to victim mentality and a need for outer borders in order to behave socially. Child psychological studies on Muslim upbringing show that “prevention of deviance through moral education is neglected in favor of punishment.” Put in another way: Installing fear for outer authorities is more important than developing the individual’s moral.
The fourth psychological difference concerns identity and tolerance. Until recently, where cultural relativism has proved to be a naive theory conceived by abstract minded professors without maturing life experience, most Westerners were taught that all religions and cultures are equal. We are told to be tolerant and even today many fear being called a racist when criticizing totalitarian religions, foreigners’ high crime rates or EU and our national states’ loose immigration laws. Muslims on the other hand are told that they belong to a certain religious group and that their loyalty are to the tribe (the Muslim society and the Umma) and to the religion – on the expense of loyalty towards respectively national identity and secular laws, and on the expense of tolerance towards “the others” – the non-Muslims. The strong Muslim identity among Muslims creates an equally strong Us-Them mentality. Research show that only 14 percent of the Muslims living in Denmark identify themselves as “Danish and democratic”. In Germany only 12 percent of the Muslims feel “German”.
A Swedish study quoted in the former Danish minister Karen Jespersen’s book Islam’s Power supports my own clinical observations and the above research in identity from Denmark and Germany. The study concluded that Muslim criminals never robs other Muslims, and that the violence and robberies against the non-Muslim Swedes are mainly intended to cause submission: “The robberies, which are only rarely planned, could happen weekly or even daily. The purpose was far from just getting money for consumption. The aim was also very much to show power and humiliate Swedes. It did not matter who was the victims, as long as it was a Swede: ‘When we make robbery, we feel that we are at war with the Swedes.’ ‘Yes, our assaults is an act of war, we are in war with the Swedes.’ ‘To me it is power, when the Swedes lay on the ground and kiss my feet.’ The psychology of identity and loyalty plays an immense role when assessing the risk of terrorist acts commuted by a person, group, organization or culture.
Sennels: Anger, hurt pride, a victim mentality and a strong feeling of belonging to a group that is superior and opposed to all others are the main components of the terrorist’s mindset. And this is exactly the feelings that Muslim upbringing and Muslim culture instills into a great many Muslims’ personality.
The cultivation of anger and seeing anger as a sign of strength provides the necessary aggression and motivation to harm the object on which one projects the anger. The hurt pride creates a feeling of need for revenge, fuels the anger and increase the wish for domination (”I will show you who are the strongest!”). The outer locus of control – the cause of the widespread and well known victim mentality in Muslim societies – creates an experience of oneself as a persecuted victim that is allowed to defend himself by all means against the brutal and unjust suppressor. The strong identity pinpoints both friends and enemies. Both in wars and in the Hollywood movies the designation and denigration of the enemy helps people feel less empathy with the enemy and thus destroys the psychological border that normally prevents us from harming “the bad guys” or feeling joy when they suffer or are killed. The values implemented in Muslim child education creates and strengthen this tendency to a great extent. Houndreds of thousands of Muslim children in the West attend Quranic schools and in many cases their negative view on non-Muslims are enhanced there.
Muslim culture basically creates a lot of angry people, with fragile self confidence, a great amount of victim mentality and a feeling of being opposed to non-Muslims. Combining such a culture with a violent ideology is the worst possible combination between psychology and religion you can have.
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