Ed Husain–Why I left Radical Islam

For five years, I became a fervent Islamist, moving up the ladder of increasingly radical organizations. All strands of this movement descend from the teachings of Banna. He fought against the British in Palestine, trained a paramilitary organization, and members of the movement killed Egypt’s prime minister in 1948. In response, the Egyptian state had Banna assassinated a few months later.

Yet I learned, through bitter experience, that Islamism is far from unitary or coherent. In the end, I quit what’s called “the Islamic movement” because I found it too controlling of my life ”” but also because I no longer wanted to be in a perpetual state of confrontation with the West. It took me several years of travel and study in the Middle East before my mind was free of Islamist influences. I remain a follower of Islam, the religion, but not of Islamism, the political ideology.

Because I was once a part of this movement ”” whose primary goal has been the creation of Islamic governments ”” and then established the world’s first counter-radical think tank, Quilliam, in London to oppose their ideology, I have been following the Arab uprisings with more than a passing interest.

Read it all.


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4 comments on “Ed Husain–Why I left Radical Islam

  1. Sarah says:

    [blockquote]Unless there is a palpable movement to grant justice toward Palestinians and an end to Israeli occupation, the urgent need to push for Israel’s integration among Arab nations cannot begin. With the strong likelihood now that Islamists will assume positions of power in Arab countries, there is a real chance of greater conflict, and thus further radicalization, in the region. The conflict with Israel does not only rile Islamists, but liberals too.[/blockquote]
    So on the 19th paragraph [out of 21] we get to the actual point of this article. Israel must surrender its tactical gains [euphemistically labelled “occupation”] made when it was viciously attacked by Islamic states and also offer “Palestinians” something called “justice” which means giving up further land from its own tiny country, rather than actual Islamic states doing their duty by “Palestinians” and offering them actual justice.


    So — Islam remains The Same, Yesterday and Today — which means, understandably, that Israel will continue with its policies of self-preservation and the next leadership of the US will continue to support those policies.

    Moving on.

  2. Nikolaus says:

    Bingo, Sarah!! Muslims were the first aggressors in the Arab/Israeli conflict. Mr. Hussain makes a meager acknowledgement of this. It is the Arabs who MUST come to terms with the fruits of their aggression rather than the braying demand that Israel stand down. In conjunction with that, the Arabs should also be the first to offer justice to the Palestinians. The fact or the matter is that Israeli Palestinians have far more justice in Israel than their brothers outside. Perhaps once Arabs set the example and demonstrate peaceful intentions, Israel can feel secure and act peacefully towards its neighbors.

  3. Jeremy Bonner says:

    None of the aggressors in 1948 or 1973 were Islamist (although the countries themselves were majority-Muslim) but pan-Arab nationalist; nor were any of them democracies.

    The problem – for which the Israeli Labour Party bears as much responsibility as Likud, since it oversaw the partial integration of the West Bank and Gaza – is that Israel can’t seem to make up its mind about the future. It can’t – as Sarah points out – give up the tactical advantage that the Palestinian majority areas assures an exceedingly narrow state, without compromising its ability to defend itself, but it can’t fully integrate the same areas without giving the Palestinians too much political leverage.

    The majority of today’s Palestinians are under sixty, so they were not even born when the Arab states made their attempt to destroy the nascent state of Israel, so they can hardly be held responsible for [i]that[/i] decision, can they?

    Much the same arguments were made about the Northern Irish government in Stormont in the years before direct rule from London. Yes there was a very real terrorist threat, but that didn’t mean that Unionists were uniformly more sinned against than sinning. The stakes are higher in Israel, but just because the Arab states have failed to resettle the Palestinian refugees doesn’t free Israel of all moral responsibility.

  4. Sarah says:

    RE: “so they can hardly be held responsible for that decision, can they?”

    True — though, as with all groups of people, they do bear the consequences of past evil behavior.

    Further, they can be held responsible for their own decisions.

    RE: “but just because the Arab states have failed to resettle the Palestinian refugees doesn’t free Israel of all moral responsibility.”

    So far, I don’t see any “moral responsibility” — in fact, they don’t even have the means to offer “justice.” That is for the Islamic nations to offer, since they have the means and responsibility to do so.