At an ifthar (breaking of fast) gathering last week, Rahim, a handsome young Muslim doctor and I chatted about this and that, and the end of our world: "Do you think refined and educated Muslims will survive this century? Or will we become extinct? I feel I don't know who I am any more. My parents, too, say the same. Barbaric Muslims are stronger than us, more stupid and ignorant, but stronger, you know."
Look today at India and Pakistan, neighbours, twin nations with identical histories and values. While the former is poised to challenge the economic and cultural power of the West, the latter is imploding and joins the ever-growing club of failed Muslim states. India has shameful problems – extreme poverty, corruption, greed, the caste system, Islamophobia and misogynist cultural practices – but, unlike Pakistan, it also has a free press and democracy, and its population understands the importance of education and enlightenment.
Come to our isles and the same stark contrast emerges. British Asians of Indian background (including Muslims from India) are top of the league tables in schools, universities, business and the professions. They are mentally agile, inquisitive, and encouraged to strive by their families. With some individual exceptions, British Muslims of Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds languish at the bottom of all indicator tables. It is heartbreaking."
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Independent, 24 September 2007