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From rural schoolboy to teacher, politician, poet, writer and philosopher, Kassim Ahmad is an example of how far one can go with sheer determination and sound principles. Famous (or infamous) for his analysis of the Hadith in Hadis Satu Penilaian Semula (Hadith: A Re-evaluation), a controversial book that provoked much debate and discourse, Kassim Ahmad is no stranger to conflict in his endeavours to uphold the truth. The Road Home: From Socialism to Islam details his life from Kedah, where he was born and went to school, to his days at University of Malaya in Singapore discovering socialism as well as lecturing at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London for four years before returning home to teach at a secondary school in Penang, and his eventual venture into politics. Kassim Ahmad s thoughts on politics and philosophy, and renewed interest in Islam also introduced him to the LaRouche political-philosophical movement in the United States, the revolutionary Baathist Party in Iraq and to the US-domiciled, Tucson-based Egyptian Quran scholar, Dr. Rashad Khalifa. This memoir not only recounts the life of Kassim Ahmad but also his insights on the importance of knowledge and thought, especially in religion, in order to achieve the aspirations of Malaysians for a new, more enlightened world.
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Kassim Ahmad was born on 9 September 1933 in Kedah, Malaysia. He took his Bachelor of Arts degree in Malay language and literature, but also read widely in political science and Islamic philosophy. He taught Malay language and literature for a time in the London School of Oriental and African Studies and then in a secondary school in Penang where he has been staying since 1966. His involvement in politics led him to hold the post of Chairman of the Malaysian People Socialist Party for 18 years (1966-1984) until his resignation. Kassim grabbed the national headlines in the 1950s with his dissertation on the characters of Hang Tuah (Perwatakan Hang Tuah), the Malay literary classic. He again shook the Malay world with his book Hadis Satu Penilaian Semula (Hadith: A Re-evaluation) in which he challenges the infallibility of the purported words of Prophet Muhammad. Kassim was jailed for nearly five years under the ISA for daring to express openly his political views, an experience which he recounted in his book, Universiti Kedua (Second University).
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