On the day in February 2003 when a million tramped through London against the impending war on Iraq, I happened to be one of the first protestors to arrive at Hyde Park. I was taken aback at the sight of the black shahada emblazoned flags of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) planted on either side of the stage.
There is one book that for some reason I am compelled, every so often, to return to. I don’t fully understand why – I just know that it must somehow connect with something buried somewhere in my subconscious. I’m not talking about a familiar book that gives me pleasure, I mean a book that creates a disturbance in me.
Detroit: Motor City – built by cars and built for cars. Home of Ford, GM, Chrysler, Motown records and the Nation of Islam. There was no one else on the Rustbelt stretch of road, only him and me.
It is so easy to view the Arab Gulf states as uniquely soulless, artificial, despotic and ultimately illegitimate entities. Many assume, in stop-motion photography-style, that once the oil has stopped flowing the sky-scraping cities that have erupted out of the sand will just as quickly disintegrate back into the desert landscape.
It is Eid day. The smartly dressed congregation are flocking to morning prayers at the large Nur E Islam Mosque, in Farouk Avenue, that serves the Muslims of San Juan (pronounced saa-waa), a suburb of Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad.
‘The problem of the twentieth century’, wrote the African-American historian W.E.B. Du Bois in his 1903 treatise on racism, The Souls of Black Folk, ‘is the problem of the colour-line – the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea’.
It is a wintery Sunday afternoon. I am sitting, along with a friend, in a semi-detached house in Southfields, suburban south-west London, the headquarters of the world-wide Ahmadiyya movement.
I was standing with a friend on the subway platform late one evening travelling back from some much needed halal food at a Senegalese restaurant in Harlem, New York. I glanced up at an advertisement hoarding above me. A photo of one of the twin towers on fire was juxtaposed with a quotation from the Qur’an: ‘Soon We shall cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers’ with the explanation: ‘This is a paid advertisement sponsored by the AMERICAN FREEDOM DEFENSE INITIATIVE’, along with the serious-sounding web address TruthAboutQuran.Org.
Malcolm began his speech with ‘As-salaam aliakum’. ‘Walaikum salaam’ the crowd chanted back. But before he could say anything else, a man in the front row stood up, walked briskly to the rostrum, and shot Malcolm with a sawed-off shotgun.
When Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh living in the US, was murdered in supposed revenge for 9/11, his killer told police ‘I stand for America all the way’.