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The book is a valuable resource for anyone who seeks a better understanding of true Islam and the dynamics at play ...
on 14 April 2015
“The Islamist: Why I joined Radical Islam in Britain, What I saw inside and Why I Left” by Ed Husain is a fascinating story which gave me insight into the methods and mindset of cults and extremist groups of all kinds, but particularly Muslim extremists. In addition, as I am not Muslim I found the array of sects within Islam mind blowing and quite disconcerting. The book is a valuable resource for anyone who seeks a better understanding of true Islam and the dynamics at play in the Muslim world today.
The author, Mohammed Mahbub ‘Ed’ Husain, was raised in England by devout parents from Bangladesh and India who demonstrated a sincere, quiet faith in Islam. As a child, Ed had the rare opportunity to study with Shaikh Abd al-Latif a master of several Muslim mystical traditions and a spiritual leader who taught him “a certain way of being gentle and God-revering.”
Despite this early training by an Islamic scholar with a depth of understanding few could hope to achieve, the teenage Ed found himself drawn to a radical, politically motivated organization. Its philosophy was based on that of Abul A’ala Maududi, who was an aggressive proponent of an Islamic state. It was essentially a political movement rather than a spiritual doctrine.
Ed was recruited by a classmate and became a member of the innocuously named Young Muslim Organization (YMO), expecting to be part of a grand effort to spread the teachings of the Prophet and improve conditions for Muslims worldwide. However, Ed found the YMO employed methods that appeared reasonable and desirable to the vulnerable young people who were drawn into their ranks. There was much talk about the heart of Islam but in practice the YMO is a public relations machine many of whose members seemed to Ed to have little understanding of Islam, the Koran, or the Sharia.
Looking back, Ed Husain realizes that by joining the YMO, he changed, if not in the way he might have wanted. “Now I was not a mere Muslim like all the others I knew; I was better, superior.” So for five years Ed Husain was an active member of organizations including the YMO and the more aggressive Jamat-e-Islami. He states that, “We continued to disrupt meetings of other Muslim groups, to plaster the walls of inner-city London, England with our posters,”
Ed Husain looks back on this portion of his life with shame. He recognizes that he had dismissed the expertise of scholars on Muslim affairs. His understanding of his behaviour is worthwhile, but he is certainly very hard on his youthful self.
Now far removed from his experiment in fundamentalist religion, Ed Husain is co-founder of the Quillium Foundation, a British-based counter-extremism organization. His loathing for violence is evident in the painfully honest record of his own divergence from the path of the Prophet: “I had advocated the ideas of Muslim domination, confrontation, and jihad, never for one moment thinking that their catastrophic consequences would arrive on my own doorstep.”
Husain describes his book as an explanation of extremist thought and how fanatics penetrate Muslim communities. He explains the truth behind their agenda of subverting the West and moderate Islam. This is a very personal, soul searching book. I found it interesting and thought provoking. It is a book I would heartily commend.