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Radical: My Journey out of Islamist Extremism

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  1,362 Ratings  ·  189 Reviews
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 I ...more
Hardcover, 296 pages
Published October 15th 2013 by Lyons Press (first published July 5th 2012)
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Tariq Mahmood
Oct 12, 2012 Tariq Mahmood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bbcd
I don't know whether to call this very autobiographical account of an ex-Islamist and very eloquent Maajid Nawaz inspirational or megalomaniac. I thoroughly enjoyed the Essex racist scene and his descriptions of his time in Pakistan and Egypt. He has also very eloquently explained the difference between Islamism and Jihadism which I don't really see as much relevant to the whole debate. The book is filled with self glorifying stories plucked from Maajid's personal life whether he was in the Egyp ...more
Farah Didi
Dec 01, 2012 Farah Didi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for anyone who wants to learn about Islamic extremism and how easy it is for radical elements to attract young people. Maajid's personal story is so similar to those find in so many different countries. At times the book is hard going and gruesome, but well worth the read. Highly recommended.
Mar 16, 2013 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If ever there was a time to read this it is now. Yes, Maajid maybe self important but he's been there, done that and came out the other side. He has a wealth of knowledge and insight as to how some extremists develop and we need to understand how and why it is happening to the young impressionable, angry, frustrated men who are born into our country but do not feel as if they belong. They cannot go back to their own country. They are already living in their own country!

There are obviously more c
Jan 15, 2015 Julie rated it liked it
I'm glad I read this because it helped me understand the 'why' behind ISIS and other extremists, as well as ideas for combating this mindset. Not surprisingly, the solutions aren't as simple as political groups suggest. The hawkish 'us' vs. 'them' mentality plays right into the hands of these guys, who want to radicalize as many as possible. Aggression by a common enemy --the West-- practically does the job for them. But they are also smart enough to use liberals' political correctness to their ...more
As I understand it, Nawaz wants to end Islamism as a political tool and means of justice (Sharia). Islamism is a “political system inspired by modern European constructs, justified by seventh-century norms.” It is an “ideology of victimhood,” “…grievances, identity crises, charismatic recruiters and compelling narratives,” “a political movement with religious consequences” Al-Qaeda is a type of Jihadism formed from Salafism and Islamism. Nawaz wants separation of Mosque and State. Unlike Hirsi A ...more
Chris Chapman
This is a crucial book, it must be read. But I only gave it three stars?! Okay so it is not beautifully written and Maajid Nawaz clearly has an enormous ego which he is stoking throughout the entire book. But it helps in understanding some very crucial issues that are currently very topical. Somebody wants told me that Islamism is like Marxism, in that I t's not just a political idea, it offers solutions for absolutely every concern that you have in life, especially for young people who are look ...more
Sarah Lameche
Jul 17, 2013 Sarah Lameche rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
Well what a surprise. I had only reached page three of this book when I was already seriously irritated by the author. He was talking like he was a gangsta from the hood and it brought back memories of the 90s when so many male Asian friends used to do this. Not a good start.
Anyway I plodded on to find that quite frankly, I couldn't find anything likeable about him. I know it's his book but it just felt so 'me me me'. You know how some people seem to hype themselves up? For example if a plane c
Feb 22, 2015 Lisa rated it it was ok
He interviewed so well on Fresh Air that I wanted to read the book. Unfortunately, he is more articulate in an interview than in writing and he had too little to say for an entire book. It's a memoir so naturally it will be one sided and he will come across full of himself. But he is even more narcissistic than to be expected just because he is telling his story. I am less interested in his being a 15-year old thug and there is more about this part of his life than I cared to know. It is helpful ...more
Farah Osman
Nov 26, 2013 Farah Osman rated it did not like it
This book is painful. It is so poorly written and structured. The guy is a nut job; thank heavens that he is now on the side of Not promoting violence and not being a so called extremist. He is a total attention seeker. This volume has reinforced my view that extremism has nothing to do with religion or race or creed or ideology but with personality. This man would have been an extremist regardless of his religion and all the experiences that he describes. I went through identity crisis (plural) ...more
Apr 22, 2013 Jon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction-read
Brilliant. One of the most powerful memoirs I've ever read. And and important look at how extremism grows inside disaffected youth. Maajid's story tells us so much about the growing radicalism that threatens us. Should be required reading at schools and in government circles.

PS: Ignore the other review here -which is an obnoxious dismissal based on nothing but ignorance.
Isil Arican
Jan 06, 2017 Isil Arican rated it liked it
In short, this is a cognitive dissonance story of a megalomaniac.

I read this book after reading "Islam and the Future of Tolerance", which is a transcribed debate between Nawaz and Sam Harris. In the debate, I really like his manner and how he articulates his reasoning, so I thought this book would be interesting to read.
I was expecting this book to be more descriptive of his journey from a radical islamist to a moderate one, and definitely was expecting to read more about his thought process a
Henry Manampiring
Dec 30, 2015 Henry Manampiring rated it really liked it
I'm not exactly a biography reader, but I got to say I enjoyed this one from beginning to the end.

This book reads on two levels. On one level this is a story about the author's life events, from enduring racism in UK, joining Hizbut Tahrir, imprisoned in Egypt, and his later departure from radical organization into fight for democracy.

On another level, this book is also about his ideology journey. How a rebellious hip hop artist finds radical ideology attractive, how he eventually discovers wh
Dec 11, 2015 Arvind rated it really liked it
For me this is one of the most important books of the last decade or so, the auto-biography of Majeed Nawaz - a committed fundamentaist for a decade, then undergoes a change of heart, becomes a committed liberal and founds the World's first anti-extremist organisation "Quilliam". Many thoughts, many arguments in this book r gems !
Also, importantly the book is written in a fast-paced, interesting style too.
Vicky Cepel
May 28, 2013 Vicky Cepel rated it really liked it
Required reading for all of us, describing as it does in a non-sensational fashion, the path of an intelligent, victimised, disaffected teenager into radical Islamism, his slow and painful enlightenment and his arduous journey out the other side.

Those expecting a Black and White picture or someone who now tows the Govt line will be disappointed as Nawaz refuses to apologise or condemn. Rather he attempts to shed light on how strong feelings can be misdirected and seeks to present a counter narr
Dec 06, 2016 Kirsten rated it liked it
It's a user friendly account, a good introduction, for someone not that familiar with the complexities of political/religious extremism. He explains well how the leap to extremism often isn't a leap at all but an evolution and how circumstances can make one ripe for the cause. He does come across as kind of full of himself which can be a little off putting but it's not too hard to overlook when one considers what he's seen and been through.
Mar 09, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it
This is a hopeful book; Maajid clearly knows what he is talking about! I believe him when he says that radical Islamists can change, he did.
Mar 07, 2015 Jenny rated it it was amazing
If you were only going to read one book this year – this should be one of the candidates. And if you don't have time to read the book, at the very least read this review or watch some of Maajid's TED talks.

Few issues are as relevant and important today as the power of ideology, and the specific conflict between Islamism and Islamophobia. The books is full of insight and the personal narrative is compelling: a British-Pakistani boy devotes his life to Islamic extremism, is imprisoned in Egypt fo
Sep 11, 2013 Season rated it really liked it
**received as a giveaway on Goodreads**
(had no idea i started this on September 11th - thanks for keeping track Goodreads!)

Engrossing, I would recommend this book to everyone - a powerful reminder to look past events and movements to the people, the actual individauls, behind them.
Maajid details his path to extremeism (extremism, not terrorism) and how he came to the realization that "by defining ourselves Against something, we were in fact defining ourselves By it." (p.x) The West and Islam/I
Andy Hilkens
Mar 07, 2017 Andy Hilkens rated it it was amazing
In my view, Nawaz' autobiography should be a mandatory read for everyone, especially in this society and political climate. His description of his path from radicalization to de-radicalization offers a clear insight into how Islamist and Jihadist organizations operate and connect with angry and frustrated young men and women. A fascinating read.
Aug 20, 2015 Bookworm rated it it was ok
This was a real struggle to read though. I can't remember exactly where I had heard of Maajid Nawaz, but I found his book and had it on my list of stuff to read for quite a while. I finally decided to just go ahead and pick it up and see what it was about.
Unfortunately the book is poorly written. We follow the author's journey from growing up in England to feeling increasingly isolated and ostracized and then eventually radicalized. He spends 5 years in prison in Egypt and eventually leaves the
Jan 30, 2014 Cheyanne rated it really liked it
I've generally thought of Islamic extremist movements in the same way Hamlet described death: that distant shore from which no traveler returns to tell the tale. The strength of Maajid Nawaz's memoir is that he did return, both from prison in Egypt and from extremist ideology, and he has a gripping tale to tell. An ethnic Pakistani born in Britain, he describes how attacks by racists in his hometown led him to feel alienated and made him ripe for recruitment by a radical Islamist group. His subs ...more
Aug 13, 2015 Joseph rated it it was ok
I've been following Maajid Nawaz's internet presence for the last several years and can say without any hesitation that he is one of the world's Most Interesting People in Politics. I've eagerly watched his televised debates with despicable Islamist ideologues such as Anjem Choudary and Mohammad Ansar. I silently cheered on the Liberal Democrats in the last UK election, hoping he would make it into parliament. Nawaz is important, and so is his book—but it is unfortunately not very good. (And pot ...more
If you are interested in the person Maajid Nawaz and the story of his life told by himself, then this memoir might be a good source. If you are interested to know more about Radical Islamism and are looking for an answer to the why question, then this is probably not the book you’re looking for.
There is much much more to political Islam and Islamism than it being merely a reaction to racism and colonialism as it is understood in this book. Mr. Nawaz is rightly criticizing HT for telling only ha
Dec 21, 2013 Benjamin rated it liked it
Shelves: booksmash
While I wholly believe in the importance of a movement dedicated to shining a light on Islamism, this is not that book. Nawaz is missing a key element to make this that strong narrative - a voice. Throughout the book, I found my critical thinking alarms ringing like crazy. How can you know exact details of a minor part of the story and leave out key points which might clarify why Islamist extremism is dangerous? What were your methods of recruitment? What kind of numbers did he draw to the Islam ...more
Feb 11, 2017 Rakshita rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved the book. Very insightful and loved the way comparison has been made between racism and Islamism. His journey is a must read for those who want to understand the rise of radicalism and the only way we have a chance of beating that ...
Kevin Winkler
May 20, 2016 Kevin Winkler rated it it was amazing
An excellent book from one of the most important voices in the Muslim world; "Radical" came alive for me around half-way through when Maajid is sent to prison in Egypt. Up until then the book was a little bit dry, but after that it maintained my interest to the end. When I was done, it left me with hope that Islam can be reformed and Islamism can be defeated or, at least, marginalized.

We must continue to carve out a sensible middle ground between the bigots who demonize and dehumanize Muslims o
Tami Nelson
Jul 30, 2013 Tami Nelson rated it it was amazing
Thank you Goodreads First reads, Lyons Press, and above all THANK YOU to Maajid Nawaz for this eye opening novel.
Where do I begin? This book is amazing. It was an interesting glimpse into the Muslim Faith, and Islamic Extremism. I am guilty of classifying Muslims and terrorists together and for that i am sorry my heart was racing and my eyes were watering, Maajid, went through so much in the Egyptian prison that its hard to believe he still has faith and love intact.
This is a beautifully writ
Sarah Seifert
Oct 29, 2013 Sarah Seifert rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was very well-written and you don't have to be an expert on Middle Eastern politics or history to understand what is going on. Nawaz explains things in a very easy-to-digest manner.

While reading this, I was struck by how easy it is for disaffected youth to be politicized and recruited to any extremist organization. You could have swapped out Nawaz's feelings and views on the world for inner-city gang members or neo-Nazi members.

I would recommend this book
Dec 15, 2013 Wendy rated it really liked it
Nawaz tells his life, from a B-Boy in Southend, UK to a Islamist to a Muslim who rejects radical Jihadist. He explains why he became a Islamist – it was the ultimate gang that scared all other gangs. He also explains how he came to reject radical Islam. It is a frightening book; Nawaz was born and raised in the UK and still became a radical. But it is also a hopeful book because Nawaz found his way out of extremism and is now working to show Muslims how harmful extremist Islam is. This should be ...more
Josephine Burks
Oct 18, 2016 Josephine Burks rated it really liked it
An excellent book for those wanting to understand Islamic extremism and how easy it is for young people who are disenfranchised to take this path. As someone who was jailed in Egypt for his activities, Nawaz was able to clearly articulate how and why he chose this path, and why he now speaks out against extremism of all forms. Great book.
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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.

Human rights and a respect for individual liberty are matters close to Maajid’s heart. His work is informed by years spent in his youth as a leadership member of a global Islamist group, and his grad
More about Maajid Nawaz...

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“As he continued to talk to me, I realized one of the fundamental points about Islamism that so many people fail to understand. The way Osman was speaking wasn’t in the orthodox, religious way of the imam with a stick; he was talking about politics, about events that were happening now. That’s crucial to understanding what Islamism is all about: it isn’t a religious movement with political consequences, it is a political movement with religious consequences.” 9 likes
“We disguised our political demands behind religion and multiculturalism, and deliberately labeled any objection to our demands as racism. Even worse, we did this to the very generation who had been socialist sympathizers in their youth, people sympathetic to charges of racism, who like Dave Gomer were now in middle-career management posts. It is no wonder then that the authorities were unprepared to deal with politicized religion as ideological agitation; they felt racist if they tried to stop us.” 4 likes
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