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Radical: My Journey from Islamist Extremism to a Democratic Awakening Paperback – 5 Jul 2012

31 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: WH Allen (5 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753540762
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753540763
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 122,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Maajid Nawaz is an author and Founding Chairman of Quilliam - a globally active think tank focusing on matters of integration, citizenship & identity, religious freedom, extremism and immigration.

He encourages the reform of Islam today, inclusive citizenship-based participation of Muslims in their respective countries, and seeks to synergize a respect for human rights with the civic liberal imperative to defend those in danger of being stigmatized by extremists of all stripes due to their personal choices.

Maajid's autobiographical account of his life story 'RADICAL' has been released in the UK and US.

Maajid is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and has been listed as one of the most influential people in the UK Sunday Times' Debretts 500 index. Maajid is also a Daily Beast columnist, and provides occasional columns for the London Times, New York Times and Wall Street Journal among others. Maajid was the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for the May 2015 British General Election.

A British-Pakistani born in Essex, Maajid speaks English, Arabic and Urdu, holds a BA (Hons) from SOAS in Arabic and Law and an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics (LSE). He is personally interested in Arabic grammar & morphology, Muslim Medieval jurisprudence and scholastics and emerging modern political thought and trends.

Maajid can be contacted on Twitter: @maajidnawaz
or on:

Product Description


"This is a book for our times. It should be read by anyone who wants to understand how the extremism that stalks our world is created and how it can be overcome. It could only be written by someone who has lived this story. And Maajid has" (Tony Blair)

"This book is more powerful than America's drone attacks because it helps kill the ideas that inspire terrorists. Ultimately, it is by defeating the extremists' worldview that we will make our world safer. Maajid's compelling story from hatred to hope shows us how this can be done" (Ed Husain, author of The Islamist)

"Maajid Nawaz was thirty years my junior when I first encountered him in the Torah Prison. His story saddened but inspired me. His innocence and idealism sharply contrasted with the corruption and despotism of his captors. Through Maajid my faith was renewed that a spring of freedom was bound to happen eventually, and so it did" (Dr Saad El-Dine Ibrahim, Egyptian liberal reform pioneer and former political prisoner)

"This book is the account of a redemptive journey - through innocence, bigotry, hardline radicalism and beyond - to a passionate advocacy of human rights and all that this can mean ... I was moved beyond measure" (Kate Allen, Director, Amnesty International UK)

"Imagine Homeland crossed with Skins, and you will get some idea of what a gripping, revelatory book this is. Unputdownable" (Tom Holland)

Book Description

A hard-hitting memoir of one man's journey into and out of Islamic extremism

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 54 people found the following review helpful By David Llewellyn on 9 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
Wow... There are some axes being ground, grapes turning sour and chips balanced delicately on shoulders round here, aren't there? Anyone looking for a balanced, unbiased opinion about this book has to wade through an awful lot of hagiographies by friends and hatchet jobs by enemies before getting to anything subjective.

Yes, the writing in 'Radical' is wobbly in places - the prose can be a little purple, and the editor deserves a slap on the wrist (note: you wouldn't describe a dungeon as "cretinous") - but Nawaz isn't a professional writer, and the flaws, if anything, at least demonstrate the book wasn't overly ghostwritten. What we're hearing is Nawaz's voice, shaped into a gripping story by Tom Bromley. And it really is a gripping story. For all his self-aggrandizing bombast and flourishes of immodesty, Nawaz makes a likeable narrator and his story is an interesting one.

Other reviewers criticise him for placing himself at the centre of major events, but it's fairly clear by the end of the book that he often was if not at the centre then at least pretty bloody close to the centre of several key events in the recent history of UK Islamism. Like any memoir, the reader must bear in mind that this is the author's version of events, that it won't always be a balanced overview of his life and career, that somebody else present at each event might describe it differently; that goes with the territory. What Nawaz has given us isn't a definitive account of Hizb ut-Tahrir UK but one man's account of it. If those of us with no experience of that world wish to know more about it, accounts like this are invaluable; the more the better.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By G. J. Weeks on 3 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
I have never before read such polarised reviewing as this book has engendered on Amazon. Perhaps the author should be renamed Marmite Nawaz because reviewers seem to love or hate his book. He does come across as arrogant at times but he is a man of considerable achievements, first for an Islamist cause, Hizb al-Tahrir, then after his radical rejection of Islam, for the Quiliam Foundation and Khudi Pakistan. His work for HT lead to years of imprisonment in Egypt as a member of a banned organisation. His descriptions of interrogation and torture in Egyptian jails are horrific. But his years in jail led him away from Islamism as he learned that there has never been a unified Caliphate with one system of Islamic law. Via the campaign of Amnesty International on his behalf, he came to understand that human rights must be extended to all and one's opponents should not be demonised. He came to espouse a liberal, pluralist view of Islam which now infuriates his former HT friends and even family, so much so that he faces security risks. I am sure he is correct to assert that Islamism has spawned the English Defence League. Extremism begets extremism. His version of Islam is not that of a clash of civilisations. It would be a religion of peace. But in the diverse world of a many faceted religion, will such eirenic thinking triumph. One hopes so, but the reviews here do not make one optimistic.
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22 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Ex-Islamist on 1 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
I have known Maajid since his first interaction with HT in Southend. Whether you agree with his politics or not, for those of us who know him, know that he is passionate, committed and not one to lie. So when I came across this book, I wasn't sure what to expect. However, as one review states, this is about the book, not necessarily about the author.

I could not put the book down...that's a fact. I am not an academic (secular or Islamic) and used to be a radical Islamist myself and hence read the book both from a personal perspective (of knowing Maajid), but also from a political one. Maajid has managed to encapsulate his life so far in a way that is spellbinding, emotional and insightful. I'm not sure my mind would be intact if I had to endure what he has had to.

The essence of the book rings true for me and I am sure for many others who like me have gone through a period of life completely sure and convinced that everything in this World is wrong and can only be fixed in a singular manner as defined by a particular group of people.

The fact that the book manages to take the reader through the clearly defined arguments and rationale as to why a typical 'Essex boy' would willingly embrace the ideas of a radical group and turn against all that he knew to be true, certainly in my view, will help towards identifying the fundamental causes of fracture & conflict in modern British society. Too many people attribute 'radicalisation' of Muslim youth to ghettos and lack of integration, Maajid is able to demonstrate that this is certainly not always true.
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful By DJRMirador on 30 July 2012
Format: Paperback
After reading many of the other reviews for this book, I couldn't help but notice that most of them were ad hominem attacks on the author himself. So, for the benefit of those of us who have never met Maajid, or had any association with him, I thought I would actually try to review the book.

I started reading this book expecting to read an autobiography, and, quite frankly, that's exactly what I got. To discredit it for not being a factual recall just simply wouldn't be doing it justice. This book flows through pivotal events in Maajid's life in an admirably seamless fashion, highlighting the emotional effects and personality defining moments that help someone with completely alien experiences (ie myself) understand, albeit on a rather basic level, how a young muslim can be drawn to Islamism, and potentially more, before eventually ending with a decidedly democratic mindset. It was well written, entertaining, and to some, illuminating. It managed to provide a brief insight into a world that many of us are completely ignorant of, and to that extent, I would thank the author. He purposefully augments factual events with personal perspective, and while I have noticed him criticised for this, not only would I reference my earlier point that this is an autobiography, but I believe it was completely necessary that he did for the sake of the reader understanding his motives and emotional state following them.

So, why not a five star review? While I enjoyed reading the book, I was hoping that certain areas would be covered in more depth. One of which I would pick out is Islamism itself.
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