The identity struggle within Islam: Discussion of “Thoughts on the inner conflict within Islamic culture: Their existential anxieties and ours,” by Malcolm Owen Slavin, PhD
There is nothing more fitting, the author believes, than for psychoanalysts to help our nations better understand the identity struggle that he believes underlies the radicalization process of radical Islamists. This identity struggle is a very deep one. At its core, it concerns what an individual Muslim feels about his or her bonds to the nation-state and what single cause in their life they are willing to die for. In this article, this struggle is characterized as theo-political and Islamo-national. In order to understand this better as psychoanalysts, the importance of the personal narrative – this sense of how an individual’s identity fits and meshes with the world around them – is stressed. To that end, this article will first given an introduction to the author and his family, and then bring readers to the Arab Awakening, which began in 2011. Dr. Slavin’s paper on Tunisia has highlighted so many of the elements of the changes that transformed Tunisia and some of the substrate that led to that evolution; this article provides the context both regionally and, more importantly, within the Muslim consciousness. The author describes the lens through which he was raised in Wisconsin as a devout Muslim and the son of Syrian political refugees. This then overlays an understanding of what was really happening across the revolutions of the Arab Awakening against tyranny and in the global consciousness of individual Muslims.