Britain's brave ex-Islamists -

Britain’s brave ex-Islamists


Johaan Hari has an excellent piece about former Islamists in Britain who have renounced their past beliefs for something more humane and liberal. Last summer I spent a lot of time with Usama Hasan, featured in Hari’s article. My take on Hasan and some of his colleagues is here. I think one of the things I like most about Hasan is his love of astronomy. In addition to working as an imam, Hasan teaches artificial intelligence at Middlesex University. He helped launch the  remarkable Quilliam Foundation with Maajid Nawaz and Ed Husain. My take on Husain and his book, can be read here.


Britain’s brave ex-Islamists

  1. Were these violent radical followers of islam or just hard core guys like your run of the mill fundamentalist christain? A little bit of specificity never hurts for a, y'know, journalist.

    For my own part, I admire extremist followers of any faith who can bring themselves to see a more modern, reasonable viewpoint. Catholics who give up their opposition to abortion bans or learn to respect gay equality, etc.

    • Hasan took part, albeit very briefly, in armed jihad in Afghanistan in 1990. Nawaz was a leading member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which wants to restore the Caliphate. He spent five years in an Egyptian jail as a result. Husain also belonged to Hizb ut-Tahrir. Hanif Qadir, discussed in my story but not in the blog post, funded extremists in Afghanistan before and after the overthrow of the Taliban and went there himself, though he is now reluctant to talk about exactly what he did there.

      • See! Something like that in the main blog would have been a great improvement, I think!

    • I certainly will give up my opposition to abortion bans, I think Canada should have one given that we shouldn't be a people who practice infanticide.

      I also believe in gay equality, though I don't really think that a marriage which entails gender roles as part of the whole point of marriage is really the best fit for a gay couple. I also don't think that homosexuals are a racial group or a mental illness, which causes some friction. I don't think it is a choice per say (I don't really choose to be slightly lazy or a chronic procrastinator for example) but I don't think it is an inevitability either.

      • Well, I guess its a tiny step forward.

        • Aww… you still cling to the belief that your views are the culmination of all human development, and that you are inevitably the future. That's adorable.

      • You're so magnanimous. The rest of us don't deserve you.

  2. I'm afraid I'm not quite convinced.

  3. Yet they felt equally shut out of British or democratic identity. From the right, there was the brutal nativist cry of "Go back where you came from!" But from the left, there was its mirror-image: a gooey multicultural sense that immigrants didn't want liberal democratic values and should be exempted from them. Again and again, they described how at school they were treated as "the funny foreign child", and told to "explain their customs" to the class. It patronised them into alienation.

    Very interesting read. I have Husain's book "The Islamist". Besides his inspiring depiction of Sufi Islam, the most striking part of his story was that he had to run away from home to become an Islamist.