This book is a travelogue by Farish Noor that spans the period from 2004 to early 2009. Versions of many of these pieces have appeared elsewhere before, but many have been completely rewritten. Here is an excerpt from the book:
However, in the course of the same research I have also visited some rather dodgy institutions that can hardly be called madrasahs. Once in Pakistan I had to interview some students while in the corner of the room played a videotape of the gruesome murder and decapitation of the American journalist Daniel Pearl. The boys I was speaking to were between seven to ten years of age, and were smiling and laughing -- while others lay asleep. I tried to look away as long as I could, resisting the urge to puke.
(From Santri: Another Look at the Pesantren al-Mukmin of Abu Bakar Ba'ashir.)
Farish A Noor, academic, activist, traveller extraordinaire, visits, lives and interviews students (and others) in 'jihad factory' madrasahs (Islamic seminaries) from Patani to Pakistan and from Kashmir to Cairo, and comes away dazed and confused. In attempting to make sense of it all, he ends up confronting his own demons and nightmares.
This is a book that only Farish A Noor will attempt and can write. He visits locations we would like to avoid even in our worst nightmares. Although he writes with his sense of humour firmly in place throughout, that does not obscure the seriousness of the subject. Is the world ready for some truth?