An insightful account of one man's drastic evolution from religious fervor to enlightened peace.
Maajid Nawaz spent his teenage years listening to American hip-hop and learning about the radical Islamist movement spreading throughout Europe and Asia in the 1980s and '90s. At 16, he was already a ranking member in Hizb ut-Tahrir, a London-based Islamist group. He quickly rose through the ranks to become a top recruiter, a charismatic spokesman for the cause of uniting Islam's political power across the world.
Nawaz was setting up satellite groups in Pakistan, Denmark, and Egypt when he was rounded up in the aftermath of 9/11 along with many other radical Muslims. He was sent to an Egyptian prison where he was, fortuitously, jailed along with the assassins of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. Twenty years in prison had changed the assassins' views on Islam and violence; Maajid went into prison preaching to them about the Islamist cause, but the lessons ended up going the other way.
He came out of prison four years later completely changed, convinced that his entire belief system had been wrong and determined to do something about it. He met with activists and heads of state, built a network, and started a foundation, Quilliam, to combat the rising Islamist tide in Europe and elsewhere, using his intimate knowledge of recruitment tactics in order to reverse extremism and persuade Muslims that the narrative used to recruit them - that the West is evil and the cause of all Muslim suffering - is false.
Radical is a fascinating and important look into one man's journey out of extremism and into something else entirely.
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Insightful and Enlightening. Blown Away by Radical
I am obsessed with understanding the path towards (and away from) political radicalism. Nawaz deftly explains what motivated his turn towards Islamism and how, through intense experiences and self-reflection, he moved away from it. Though I was never as radical as he was, and was certainly not an Islamist, his story speaks to me. He really shows how youthful pain and idealism can quickly morph into extremism. More importantly, he shows how sober-minded reflection, honesty and humility leads us back towards humanity.
The analysis of Sayyid Qutb and how his 2 years at Stanford led indirectly to the likes of Osama bin Laden was beyond fascinating. The observation that the radical - Islamist and otherwise - is involved in a kind of co-dependent relationship with the object of its hatred (i.e. America) is an unusually insightful one.
The reading of the book is quite eloquent and far less dry than most audio books.
I could definitely have listed to the entire book in one sitting. My life is far too busy for that so I listened to it whenever I had a free moment.
It is rare to hear someone with such obvious qualifications weigh in on the subject of Islamism and deradicalization. We need this kind of depth, familiarity, bravery and objectivity in order to help wrap our heads around this very important issue. Thank you. Maajid Nawaz for a truly important book!
- oneofmanymonkeys "monkey"
- Cole Bagwell