Every year I meet near and distant relatives on the two Eids, and every year I notice that more of them have become extremists. There is one who has a fourteen year old son who has never shaved and has a virgin beard. The kid used to be a  brilliant child and I thought he would grow up to be a chartered accountant or a specialist doctor. His two sisters already cover themselves fully, even though they are younger than him. His father and grandfather are both extremists and it is difficult to hold an intelligent conversation with them. They are like those who have been trying desperately to persuade me to grow a heavy beard.

It wasn't like this until twenty five years back. I think it was 9/11 which changed everything. Muslims started withdrawing into their shells, stopped educating their children, and in almost every house they started talking about religion. I had an uncle who had been a brilliant engineer until he became an extremist. He would talk about no other subject than religion. So much so that one of his sons took a second wife (having been told umpteen times that he could have four wives). The son should have realized, as his father said at the time, that his own sister's husband would do the same thing. And it did happen, around the time the old man was nearing his end. The poor sister (my late uncles's daughter) has had to go through hell, because her husband started associating with other extremists and ultimately had to go underground to escape arrest. No one has seen him for the past four years or so. Moreover, his twenty five year old son has also been in custody of the law enforcement agencies, who think his father will surrender to get him released. But the poor chap's life is ruined. I wish his grandfather (my late uncle) were around to see the terrible result of his constant preaching to his children. I often used to tell him to refrain from mentioning religion unless it was absolutely relevant. Unfortunately he was impervious to reason. I only hope my descendants are normal people, but I'm certain there are going to be some who will be brainwashed and become extremists. I hope I'm not alive when that happens.