The recent death of Kafeel Ahmed who rammed a jeep into the Glasgow Airport on June 30 and walked out of the vehicle after setting himself on fire- highlights once again the barbarity of all that is committed on the Jehadi plank. It is against this backdrop that The Islamist (Penguin, 2007), a recent book by Ed Hussain of London, assumes great significance. Not surprisingly, it has attracted a great deal of media attention. It is even mentioned by some as a ‘must-read’ for those who sit in the House of Commons. Hussain rejects all that Islamist fanaticism stands for. The sub-title of his book ‘Why I joined radical Islam in Britain, what I saw inside and why I left’ says it all. He doesnt say anything ambiguous and his condemnation of those who are confrontationist towards the British society and Government is unmitigated. He has, therefore, provoked the ire of those whom he left some years ago following his disillusionment. He goes on to say that his book is a protest, one against "political Islam, based on my experience as a British Muslim who grew up in London, became an extremist- an Islamist- and saw the error of his ways.
The Islamist is a good book but not a great book as it leaves many questions unanswered, possibly out of an anxiety not to confuse the reader or tire him with tedious theological details. It would be interesting to watch what Hussain is going to do as a follow-up to his book. The ‘million dollar’ question is now whether he will have the courage to go around the country and transmit the true virtues that Islam holds out for.