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43 of 65 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't really address radical Islam problem, October 15, 2013
This review is from: Radical: My Journey Out Of Islamist Extremism (Hardcover)
Radical tells the life history of Maajid who grew up in Southern England as a minority, taunted and threatened because he was Pakistani. His anger turns him into a radical and he travels to Middle East to recruit and set up radical cells for terrorist group Hizb al-Tahrir (HT). He is arrested in Egypt and spends 4 years in a despicable Egyptian jail. While in jail he figures out that Islamism and Islam are two completely different things. He maintains that Islam is the religion, Islamism is a political ideal. I have heard other opinions that Islam is not just a religion (according to Koran), but is a complete lifestyle including politics. He sets up an organization called Quilliam to challenge both anti-Islam and Islamist extremists worldwide.

His early teenage years are interesting to show what kind of mischief unsupervised teens with money, free time, graphic music in a metropolitan area, especially with rampant racism, can get into. His conversion to radical came because he saw Islamism as a way to obtain power over his enemies and to remove Western influence from Arabian countries.

The author CLAIMS to see clearly that Islamism should NOT be a political force, that democracy is the best path for everybody. He thinks that he has the exact correct answer to fighting the radicals in the Middle East and Islamists everywhere. Time will tell if Quilliam can turn radicals around. However, the main problem with Islam is that the Koran was written in the 7th-8th century, insisted by believers to be the word of God and therefore extremely difficult to refute or ignore. Christian and Jewish leaders know that the Bible is not the word of God, it was written and interpreted and reinterpreted by many different believers. As Ibn Warraq states in his writings "Why I Am Not A Muslim", Islamic Law consists of the Koran and sunna which control EVERY facet of everybody's lives (personal, public and political). Unless or until Nawaz can take part in bringing about an awakening similar to Christianity in the 17th century (this is what Ayaan Hirsi Ali believes, I can't tell if Nawaz believes it), then Islam remains a deeply flawed ultra-violent religion, destined to cause untold misery FAR into the future.

My problem with the book is his repeating that HIS God has not and will never desert him (meanwhile admitting that he's not very religious). Isn't his God the same as those thousands in Egyptian jails and elsewhere who are physically abused and die every day? Does he consider himself special? He doesn't say. Also, he calls Ayaan Hirsi Ali a `women's rights activist and author'. He knows very well her story told in her incredible books "Infidel" and "Nomad". She became an atheist because of how she was physically and mentally abused only because she was born female in a Muslim country (also, because of her study of Koran). Her abusers were not radicals; they were just normal Muslims, mainly her own family. She claims that all of her abuses are allowed by the Koran, so she cannot worship a God like that. Her views need to be respected because she lived through the abuse and is doing all she can to turn the spotlight on problems faced by half the adult population in Islam.

I would like to give Maajid 5 stars for highlighting and solving an enormous problem--radical Islam. This book, however, only highlights HIS personal problems because of HIS poor choices and describes HIS journey back from radicalism. The fact that he has had his own 'enlightenment' and is trying to convince other Muslims is very laudable, but he refuses to face the facts of the real problems in the Koran as Ayaan Hirsi Ali is doing. He needs to denounce the racism, misogyny, slavery, genocide and cruelty that the Koran preaches, also that Mohammed is not the ONLY person EVER in the world to have a conversation directly with God (NO sane truthful person ever has). Does Quilliam do that? He never really describes how Quilliam works or what the organization believes, how it will bring about 'enlightenment' to Islam. He never mentions his views on 'Islamic (Sharia) Law'. Maybe he has more details in his interviews (paid?) than he has in this book, but he didn't convince me with this book that he knows how to reach the radicals--this book is mostly about his ego.
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Showing 1-10 of 46 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 19, 2014 7:01:42 PM PDT
William says:
Sure seems like a weak reason for giving 3 stars instead of 5. "Because most of his problems he created for himself." We are reviewing a book here.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 19, 2014 8:30:47 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 20, 2014 5:46:14 AM PDT
R. Marten says:
You're right, my last paragraph was weak. I rephrased, let me know what you think. I also lowered my review after reconsidering.

Thanks for heads-up.

Posted on Jan 11, 2015 12:16:41 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 11, 2015 12:18:00 PM PST
Good comments. I've seen the man in a number of videos, but from what I can tell from browsing through his book, his reading of the history of Islam is awfully romantic. He's a Muslim, right?

He dare not admit that the death-for-apostasy law in the Koran (Sura 4:89, ff.) makes it nearly impossible to salvage Islam, and for that matter, not worth salvaging.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 11, 2015 5:23:56 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 11, 2015 5:36:36 PM PST
R. Marten says:
He's a Muslim, but claims he's not that religious (in the book). Isn't that an oxymoron for a Muslim? He was on a morning network show recently claiming that Muslims need to back off from demanding death for blasphemy. That's a great start, but he didn't go any further, so I still am not convinced that he's serious (maybe he's wishy-washy because he's worried about self-preservation).

I heard that Ayaan Hirsi Ali pretty much destroyed him in a debate, but I haven't seen the debate. Ayaan and Ibn Warraq both have death sentences imposed by Islam because of speaking truthfully what they believe.

I agree that Islam is impossible to salvage if the Koran is kept, but Christianity was in close to the same position 3-4 centuries ago, it became somewhat salvaged by ignoring the worst parts of the Bible. The biggest problem is Mohammed, I don't see how "moderate" Muslims can get around worshipping and ignoring most of what he is reported to have said and done.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 12, 2015 4:53:24 AM PST
M. D. says:
The debate you're referring to is probably Intelligence Squared's Is Islam A Religion of Peace debate that can easily be found on youtube.
It's an excellent debate, I like to re-watch it from time to time. Douglas Murray & Ayaan Hirsi Ali kick ass. I never knew who Murray was since I'm not British but that guy's funny.
To be fair he had to do all the heavy lifting on his side as his partner is a perfect example of a clueless liberal Westernized Muslima who thinks every criticism of Islam is based on ignorance and prejudice. In fact, this is why I love that debate: asides from having one side clearly lose, the two major Islamophile stereotypes are presented at the debate - the ineffectual moderate reformer & the Westernized ivory-tower social justice warrior... vs an ex-muslim Somali & a peeved British anti-theocrat Atheist.

This guy has guts to preach non-violence in Pakistan and I but he also basically admitted at one point that his own mosque there faces possible terrorist attacks by radicals because of this, thus defeating himself. (He's on the side arguing that Islam is peaceful).

There's also this on Youtube: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Maajid Nawaz, Feisal Abdul Rauf - "Islam: A Religion of Violence Or Peace?"

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 12, 2015 5:08:03 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 12, 2015 5:11:03 AM PST
R. Marten says:
Thanks M. D., I will check out those videos, Ayaan is a genius, absolutely fearless, in my opinion.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2015 9:47:47 AM PST
I personally think that the problem is a bit deeper than that. It's a literary and cultural problem as well. The Bible was written in many different languages over a period of centuries and covers many topics in many literary genres, so it's possible for a believer to choose as he likes. Matter of fact I think a case can be made that the Gospels are highly sophisticated Hellenistic frame tales, loaded down with cultural references to Homer, Plato,Euripides, etc.

The Koran's a mish mash of plagiarisms and bloodthirsty rants in honor of a desert marauder.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2015 9:53:11 AM PST
Check out Maryam Namazie, "Islamic Inquisition," and Taslima Nasrin, "My Struggle for Secularism."

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2015 9:53:45 AM PST
See above.

Posted on Jan 16, 2015 8:09:34 AM PST
kbrsacto says:
So you believe that the solution to radical Islam is to change Islam? Could you apply that to Christianity? Let's try: take a guy in the United States who slaughters a physician and his staff who are lawfully providing medical services. Because the guy's interpretation of Christianity suggests this slaughter. So our role is to re-jigger all of Christianity because of this guy's CRAZY INTERPRETATION? Let me know.
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