Farah Pandit’s ‘How We Win’ is undoubtedly the best book I have read on the theme of Violent Extremism (as she wishes to call it) sweeping across not only the Muslim lands but the entire world.
I have many reasons for my admiration for the book and its author, her being of Indian origin – she was a Kashmiri born in Srinagar – being of relatively lower importance.
Foremost is her courage. This book is not about theory, nor about excuses, blame game and pseudo arguments tacitly supporting terrorists and their actions; it is essentially and importantly about what Muslims themselves should and must do.
‘Whether Muslims want to or not, they must step up and lead’, she insists about countering violent extremism initiatives, adding ‘Rightly or wrongly, it is harder to convince non-Muslims to fight the war of ideas when Muslims themselves aren’t stepping up…’.
Farah’s approach is insightful and refreshing. She courageously points out the deficiencies in the US’ counter terror approaches and insists that the myth of Islam as a monolith must be destroyed. Preserving Islamic diversity is the best way of countering extremism, she argues blaming over-identification of Islam with Arab culture.
She comes down heavily on Saudi government for its double game in imposing Arab radical version of Wahhabi Islam on the Muslim world while pretending to be helping the West in its fight against Islamic terror. Farah passionately argues that Wahhabism is the most dangerous distortion of Islam and the Muslims should be helped to come out of it.
Concepts like Sheik Google, Halalisation that Farah uses to drive down important aspects of the problem are very insightful, so are ideas like e-mams (digital preaching options) to counter radical Imams.
Best part of this book is about the unflinching hope Farah Pandith exudes in the ability of the world to defeat radicalism. She rightly argues that it is not just the job of the government alone but of ordinary Muslims too. She calls for ‘Open Power’, a transparent collaboration between people and the governments as against the concepts like ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ power. She encourages every segment – corporates to ordinary citizens – to do their bit in countering the radicalism in the Islamic societies. She doesn’t just preach; she gives innumerable tips and also live examples.
‘All of us should feel urgency, no matter what our station in society. And we should feel it at all times. If we have waited until an attack has taken place, we have waited too long’, she warns.
A great book of practical wisdom and to-do insights on countering Islamic radicalism. A must read for not just those engaged in CT activity but everyone, especially the well-meaning Muslim civilians.