Mr. Ali was directly involved in jihad for fifteen years, but is now a peace activist. He is an Interventions Provider for the Home Office, and a member of the scrutiny panel for the Crown Prosecution Service.
He radicalised, recruited, fundraised and fought in Afghanistan, Kashmir and Burma. Now, he draws on these experiences to teach Islam as a means of restoring balance. He seeks to address issues of extremism through education and highlight Islam as a way to better human values, start social projects, promote charitable events and create a place for open discussion.
On Thursday night he took the time to speak to us about how education and keeping an open mind when approaching religion and others could be used to prevent acts of terror in the future. He spent time with students and professors alike discussing how religion can be used to manipulate angry and desperate people but how it can also be used to save them.
The question and answer portion of the night, the portion Ali would prove most excited about, indeed proved to be the best part. Students were allowed to ask any and all questions and were encouraged by Ali to do so. He made no effort to hide his past or to hide the pasts of those that he now speaks to through his work with the U.K. government. He had been led astray, but those in the audience were left feeling optimistic about the future when he told how it was never too late to save those that have been misguided. That patience, love and kindness, would always win. Leaving that night, it felt like they just might.