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Ed Husain’s The Islamist was the first book by a British Muslim that attempted to explain why so many members of his own generation were tempted by Islamist politics, and in some cases by al-Qaeda terrorism. Its considerable impact on public opinion has had two consequences. Like-minded Muslims have set up the Quilliam Foundation to challenge fundamentalist influence on their community. And the Islamists are hitting back.

In the August issue of Prospect, Anshuman A. Mondal, who is deputy director of the Brunel Centre for Contemporary Writing, launches a wide-ranging critique of Husain’s book. He depicts most of the writers and organisations which are Husain’s targets as advocates of a “Muslim middle way” and denies that they are “Islamist” at all. For example, he defends Abu A’la Mawdudi, the Indian ideologue who has inspired many of the British-born Islamists whose roots lie in the subcontinent. Mondal contrasts Mawdudi with the “violent” ideology of the Egyptian Sayyid Qutb: “The chasm between Mawdudi and Qutb is as wide as that between Fabianism and Bolshevism.” Yet Mawdudi described his ideal Islamic state thus: “In such a state, no one can regard any field of his affairs as personal and private...the Islamic State bears a kind of resemblance to the Fascist and Communist states.”

Mondal also defends Tablighi Jamaat, the global Muslim proselytising organisation that is behind plans for a “mega-mosque” in east London and whose members have participated in various terrorist attacks and conspiracies. While acknowledging that Tablighi Jamaat was inspired by Mawdudi’s ideas, Mondal goes on to quote an unnamed “intelligence analyst” who compares the group to the RSPCA, which has nothing to do with militant animal rights fanatics.

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