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Radical: My Journey from Islamist Extremism to a Democratic Awakening Paperback – 5 Jul 2012
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"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)
A hard-hitting memoir of one man's journey into and out of Islamic extremismSee all Product description
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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.
Of course, other critics - the particularly stupid, axe-grinding ones - will claim that Nawaz is simply a wolf in sheep's clothing, playing at the reformed radical while, I don't know... still plotting to overthrow the west? If they're particularly knuckle-headed they might even throw in some semi-researched reference to "taqqiya". If they do, just ignore them. Similarly, if their review begins "I know/knew Maajid Nawaz", ignore them. This is an entertaining, informative book, and a welcome follow on to Ed Husain's The Islamist.
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. As for the dark period of incarceration, I am amazed at how Maajid, Reza & Ian (not forgetting all the other brothers mentioned in the book) managed to remain lucid and coherent - this MUST be a testament to their faith and for that may they be rewarded.
As I mentioned earlier, I did not read the book from an academic view point, and so I will not comment on the validity of the arguments that Maajid puts forward in the build up to his decision to leave HT, but I do support his idea that radicalising Muslim youth can and will lead to radicalising non Muslims towards right wing fascist ideas. Why? Because the vast majority of radicalised Muslims (not just the youth) are so hell bent on segregation from the indigenous British society, that the 'them and us' construct is built (with tremendous speed) on both sides. I can completely relate to Maajid's comments about how he 'shed' his non Muslim friends and found himself in a scenario with only those friends who are not only Muslim, but share his own ideas of how Islam should be defined. This is dangerous and I have not seen this in any other Muslim country (I have travelled extensively throughout the Middle East, Africa & the Indian Sub Continent) and from my limited knowledge of the early years of Islam, I don't believe the Prophet (SAWS)or his companions ever behaved in this way. Surely, if they had, Islam would have remained in the hands of a very few people.
On a final note, I have thoroughly enjoyed the book from cover to cover and like I said, whether you agree with Maajid's politics or not, the book is certainly a must read.
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