How Absent Fathers May Be Contributing To ISIS Recruitment


It’s about connection. If you look at the logo on our site, it’s a bow tie representing two triangles connecting; one triangle representing the whole man strong in mind, body, and soul. The second triangle represents our connection with the Creator. It’s why I feature articles on spirituality here and there. Ultimately, though, it’s about a connection with a father.

The media has extensively covered ISIS and has debated whether or not Islam is at fault. I believe the media is focusing on the wrong debate. The real issue is the growing epidemic of absent fathers.

Robert Bly and Gordon Dalbey address the father-wound in their writings. It’s often been said that a man sees God how he sees his own earthly father. So, if a man has a distant and cruel earthly father, he will most likely see God the same way.

Gordon talks about gangs in Sons of the Father. When boys have an absent father, whether physically or emotionally, they tend to be more violent. He goes on to equate the growth of gangs with the rising numbers of fatherless homes. “In 1960, 11% of American children lived in homes without a father. By 2009, that figure was 33%. Today, over 50% of children born to women over 30 are out-of-wedlock…The problem is most clearly defined among African Americans, where 64% of children live in father-absent homes.”

Young men are ultimately drawn to gangs because they are hoping to be validated, but the argument both Bly and Dalbey make is that you cannot receive your identity as a man from peers. True validation can only come from a father or a father-figure.

ISIS is not a religion, it’s a gang composed of violent young men drawn to violent verses in the Quran. Through an angry lens, aggressive men will interpret any religion destructively. Much like gangs in the United States, ISIS’s ranks are younger men, and a lot of the recruiting growth (around 2,000) is coming from Western nations. CNN reports ISIS recruits are between the ages of 16-25 and are poor, uneducated, and unemployed.

The federal definition of a gang is:

  1. An association of three or more individuals;
  2. Whose members collectively identify themselves by adopting a group identity, which they use to create an atmosphere of fear or intimidation, frequently by employing one or more of the following: a common name, slogan, identifying sign, symbol, tattoo or other physical marking, style or color of clothing, hairstyle, hand sign or graffiti;
  3. Whose purpose in part is to engage in criminal activity and which uses violence or intimidation to further its criminal objectives.
  4. Whose members engage in criminal activity or acts of juvenile delinquency that if committed by an adult would be crimes with the intent to enhance or preserve the association’s power, reputation or economic resources.

ISIS has become an international gang which uses fear and intimidation tactics, and under the guise of religion, commits murder, rape, and sex trafficking.

Could it be that Western young men are drawn to ISIS the same way young men are drawn to gangs in the US? One of the key components ISIS uses in recruiting is a sense of identity.

However, identity or personal significance only comes through connection to a father who is a gentleman, a perfect and loving father. Every guy out there needs a father like this. Even if you’ve had a good father, no father is perfect, which is why we need a non-human father to call out the true man within us. As Gordon points out, “God’s major focus…will be to restore true and proper father-son relationships, that is, to heal a man’s image of his father.” Once this healing begins, gangs and extremist groups like ISIS will diminish and become far weaker organizations.

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One Response to How Absent Fathers May Be Contributing To ISIS Recruitment

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