Over the past 15 years, 47 Muslim Australians have been convicted for terrorism offences. Australian courts have determined that these acts were motivated by the offenders’ “Islamic” religious beliefs and that interpretations of Quranic verses concerning jihad
, in relation to shariah
, will of God and religious duty contributed to the commission of these crimes. This paper argues that these ideas, derived from certain classical-era Islamic jurisprudence and modern Islamist thought, contradict other classical-era interpretations and, arguably, the original teachings of Islam in the time of the Prophet Muhammad. In response to the call for “cogent religious instruction” to combat the phenomenon of radical Islamist terrorism, this paper outlines a deradicalization program that addresses late 20th- and early 21st-century time-period effects: (1) ideological politicization associated with Islamist jihadism; (2) religious extremism associated with Salafism; and (3) radicalization associated with grievances arising from Western military interventions in Muslim-majority countries. The paper offers a counter narrative, based on a contextualized reading of the Quran and recent research on the authentication of the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad. It further contends that cogent religious instruction must enhance critical-thinking skills and provide evidence-based knowledge in order to undermine radical Islamist extremism and promote peaceful coexistence.
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