On the 12th December 2008 Usman Raja of the Quilliam Outreach and Training Unit (QOTU) was invited to speak at a conference, “Understanding Islam” organized by the UK Defence Academy.
Usman spoke about the importance of distinguishing Islam as a faith from Islamism the political ideology. He touched on his own experiences and how his time with Jihadi movements led him to reject a rigid literalist interpretation of Islam for a more traditional and spiritual approach. He also discussed how Islamist movements had formed in a post-colonial age when newly-formed Middle Eastern states were looking for direction. The question of whether or not Shari’ah Law should be implemented in the UK was raised; Usman responded by arguing that the British Legal System more than sufficed to support the Muslim way of life.
The event was very well attended by military and intelligence personnel from both sides of the Atlantic. Most attendees responded positively to Usman’s talk and much interest was shown in the work of the Quilliam Foundation.