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.