My Journey Out Of Islamist Extremism


by Maajid Nawaz

Excerpts from the book:

“During my time in Cairo’s Mazrah Tora prison, I happened to share a cell block with the current global leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Dr. Badee….(H)e told me that it was he who had originally smuggled Sayyid Qutb’s Islamist manifesto-  MILESTONES- out from that very prison to the wider public in the early 1960’s.   Qutub was the founding father of modern-day, militant Islamism, otherwise known as Jihadism.

(After a visit to the U.S.) Qutub was so disillusioned by his own inability to integrate with 1940’s America and presumably hurt by the common  assumption that he was African American ( then referred to as a Negro), that it seems to have inspired within him deep shame and embarrassment, provoking in him some of the crudest of prejudice. “       Maajid Nawaz

             Sayyid Qutb : Father of Militant Islam

             Sayyid Qutb : Father of Militant Islam

"The American is primitive in his artistic taste….Jazz is the music of choice. This is the music of the Negroes invented to satisfy their primitive inclinations, as well as their desire to be noisy on the one hand and to excite  bestial tendencies on the other."         Sayyid Qutub       


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.

On Black Americans Rappers he says:       What mattered was that these sorts of endorsements from young, streetwise rappers made me rethink my identity. The faith I had inherited was no longer some backward village religion to be ashamed of or apologetic about. It had been re-branded as a form of resistance,  as a self-affirming defiant identity

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 Islam's political power across the world. Nawaz was setting up satellite groups in Pakistan, Denmark, and Egypt when he was rounded up in the aftermath of 9/11 along with many other radical Muslims. 

He was sent to an Egyptian prison where he was, fortuitously, jailed along with the assassins of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. The 20 years in prison had changed the assassins' views on Islam and violence; Maajid went into prison preaching to them about the Islamist cause, but the lessons ended up going the other way. He came out of prison four years later completely changed, convinced that his entire belief system had been wrong, and determined to do something about it. 

He met with activists and heads of state, built a network, and started a foundation, Quilliam, to combat the rising Islamist tide in Europe and elsewhere, using his intimate knowledge of recruitment tactics in order to reverse extremism and persuade Muslims that the 'narrative' used to recruit them (that the West is evil and the cause of all of Muslim suffering), is false.

 Radical, first published in the UK, is a fascinating and important look into one man's journey out of extremism and into something else entirely.