Strong religious foundation— a protection against radicalism

“How religion can inoculate against radicalism” Reprinted from The Wall Street Journal © 2011 Dow Jones & Company. All rights reserved. September 2, 2011

In the fall of 1989, I arrived as a student at the Royal London Hospital medical college, part of the University of London. I was one of only a handful of Muslim students in my year and, for us, the entire social scene felt alien. It all seemed based around dancing, alcohol, and socializing with the opposite sex. We were left in a vacuum that the school’s Islamic Society quickly offered to fill. Its members were comradely, welcoming and—crucially—had great food.

They knew we were lost and early on they started to explain how the alienation we felt was something we should cherish rather than try to overcome. The reason they gave was that we were better than the kufar—infidels—outside our gathering. It was at this point that the tone of the Islamic Society’s meetings started to change. Our duties to our religion started to merge with a series of geopolitical aims involving the establishment of a global Islamic state and the overthrow of the capitalist/Zionist system.

I soon dropped out of the Islamic Society and widened my social circle to include non-Muslims. But several of my friends had become intoxicated by the whole thing, even dropping out of the university because of it. At first I didn’t give this much more thought—until 9/11, that is.

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November 14, 2011

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