“Most Muslims are not Islamists.”
This critical distinction between Islam and Islamism is the focus of Radical, Maajid Nawaz’s powerful memoir. He explains a simple but incredibly important concept: Islamism is a political ideology masquerading as religion.
As a recruiter for an Islamist extremist group Maajid Nawaz exploited the confusion between Islam and Islamism. Now, as a counter extremism activist Nawaz attempts to correct that tangled perspective.
As a disillusioned teenager in Essex Maajid’s interactions with racist gangs had left him cynical and jaded. At university Maajid joined Hizb ut-Tahrir, an organisation that supports the establishment of an Islamic State and Sharia law. He was a relentless recruiter for the organisation. He travelled first to Pakistan and later to Egypt recruiting more participants. But in Egypt Nawaz was arrested. He was imprisoned and later charged with belonging to a banned group.
During his imprisonment Maajid had access to classic English literature. There began Maajid’s transformation from conservative Islamist to counter extremism advocate.
“Reading classic English Literature did for me what studying Islamic theology couldn’t. It forced my mind to grapple with moral dilemmas.”
At the time of this review the Islamic State has taken responsibility for the bombing of an airport and a train in Brussels two days ago that has killed more than 30 people. Maajid Nawaz’s memoir is necessary reading for anyone trying to understand the current political situation in Europe and the ideology behind these attacks.
Nawaz writes with passion, intelligence and clarity. If at times Nawaz sounds proud it is because he has much to be proud of. Since his transformation he has co-founded the world’s first advocacy organisation for counter extremism. He travels widely to speak about the Islam/Islamism misunderstanding, often to the same countries where he used to recruit members for Hizb ut-Tahrir.
David Linski captures the intelligence and the passion of Nawaz’s writing in his narration and is very engaging. Linski rarely stumbles, although at times his emphasis was a little off which created the feeling that a sentence had finished when it hadn’t. Overall it was a sensitive narration, well cast and beautifully fitted to the subject of the book.
Radical: My Journey out of Islamist Extremism • by Maajid Nawaz • with Tom Bromley • read by David Linski • 10.8 hours • published by Blackstone Audio • January 15, 2016 • ISBN 9781504711142