An Autobiography of a Rebel: Kassim Ahmad

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An Autobiography of a Rebel is the final biographical writing of Kassim Ahmad, completed shortly before his passing in October 2017. Within he tells the story of his transition from a leader of Parti Rakyat Malaysia to a scholar of the Quran and Hadith, and a member of UMNO. Brought up in rural Kedah, Kassim Ahmad became politically aware in the period of Malaya’s independence struggle.

Participating in the University Socialist Club, he would go to make his name with a radical analysis of the figures of Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat in the Hikayat Hang Tuah. Yet by the 1980s he had become both a staunch critic of socialism, and an Islamic thinker who set out to challenge orthodoxy and reinterpret dominant interpretations, most notably in his Hadis – Satu Penilaian Semula, before later championing a political system based upon the Charter of Medina.

Through a series of short reflective essays, An Autobiography of a Rebel tells the story of a man whose intellectual journey from socialism to Islam was rooted in his belief that philosophical inquiry was vital to the production of a better governed and more prosperous country. Autobiography of a Rebel forms then not only the final account of Kassim Ahmad’s life, but also his final intellectual statement.

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