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An interesting activist’s eye view of the British Muslim experience

Author: C. Scott Jordan & Ghayasuddin Siddiqui
Publisher: Beacon Books
Rating: 3/5

THE Muslim community being in the news for different reasons has not only sparked various debates, but also resulted in books, TV shows, films, stage productions and much more.

What this book attempts to do is document the Muslim experience across the decades by focusing on pioneering figure Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, who despite being present in key historical moments won’t be familiar to a modern generation.

Writer C Scott Jordan has teamed with Siddiqui himself to tell his remarkable life story, from migrating to the newly formed Pakistan during partition to landing in the UK to join a first generation of South Asians in the 1960s and being present during key moments. Along the way, he meets key historical figures, is forced to make difficult decisions and is on the frontline fighting for what he believes to be right.

Those who enjoy history will see fascinating insights across various decades and learn more about a largely forgotten figure, who had highs and lows during his turbulent life.
With the political turmoil around the world and rise of right-wing governments, there are plenty of parallels between what happened in the past and events happening globally today.

The book could have been written in a more accessible way and, perhaps, isn’t as objective as it could have been about Siddiqui (maybe because he was involved in the writing of it). Also, he met giants of the 20th century during his life, including Malcolm X, and there was a missed opportunity to provide a deeper insight into these important figures. This is a difficult read, but it has enough historical insight to keep those who enjoy learning about the past engaged. But more than being a book about the Muslim experience, it had an opportunity to be a fascinating journey through the British Asian life; however, it does not quite reach this, despite having many interesting moments.

Reviewed by Mita Mistry