My Journey out of Islamist Extremism
Maajid Nawaz, 2013
Nawaz was born in Southend England in 1978, of Pakistani immigrant parents. Abused by other kids, he encountered Islam, both as a guiding principle and a threat against gangs. But this was Hizb ut-Tahrir: radical, Islamist, restore-the-caliphate, blame-the-west Islam, sparked by western indifference to the fate of caucasian Muslims in Bosnia, based on a selective reading of the of Koran, and western nationalism.
This is not the scimitar-wielding woman-mutilating Jihadism that led to the Taliban, but it still is at odds with the west and many Muslim dictatorships, where Nawaz travelled as a recruiter. In Egypt, he was arrested by Mubarrak's secret police, abused, threatened with torture, and spent 2001 to 2006 in prison. There, he learned about the much richer and complete Koran, and met leaders of the future Arab spring in Egypt. He was released with the help of Amnesty International.
He now leads a London thinktank, Quilliam
He quotes this translation of Jalaluddin Rumi on page 179:
- Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah ... it makes absolutely no difference what people think of you."
This may be a too-secular translation; others point out that this bowdlerizes Rumi's more Allah-centric verse.
See also IslamWithout
Islam and the Future of Tolerance
A dialog, by Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz, Hillsdale 297.28 H3161i 2015
This small book is in interview format, mostly atheist Sam Harris making provocative statements and Nawaz responding. Harris is a "Qu'ran literalist", claiming that scrict Islam is anti-liberal. Nawaz claims that the text does not speak for itself; instead, the reading and the context determines the interpretation of the text, and that history demonstrates many different interpretations by different Islamic scholars, and that contemporary Islam also offers many different interpretations.
- N: Maajid Nawaz
- H: Sam Harris
- K: Keith, my own reaction
I'll mostly quote the responses from Nawaz
Four factors of radicalization:
- 1 Grievance narrative
- 2 identity crisis
- 3 charismatic recruiters
- 4 ideological dogma
p005 N: ... Islam is not a religion of war or of peace - it's a religion. It's sacred scripture, like those of other religions, contains passages that many people would consider extremely problematic. ... Religion doesn't inherently speak for itself: no scripture, no book, no piece of writing has it's own voice. K: an axe can cut firewood or kill people. Writing and reading are tools.
- p006 N: ... I asserted that Islam is a language of peace simply because the vast majority of Muslims today do not subscribe to its being a religion of war.
Harris addition, 2013 PEW poll in 11 Muslim majority countries re. justification for violence against noncombatants: Pakistan 3%, Indonesia 6%, Nigeria 8%, Jordan and Tunisia 12%, Turkey 16%, ... Egypt 25%, Malaysia 27%, Lebanon 33%. Then Harris writes "if even 10% support suicide bombing against civilians ..." K: ... which is provocateur bullshit, because that was not the question and tha 10% is pulled out of his ass. Context and commitment matter, most of those "sometimes" are abstractions and equivocations. For comparison, most Americans passively "agree" with dropping 30,000 bombs a year (without a declaration of war), so they don't try their President for murder and hanged. Most simply do not care, they concern themselves with other things, just like people everywhere.
- p011 N: grievances prime vulnerable youth to receive ideological dogma through charismatic recruiters
- p018 N: Islamism: impose one interpretation of Islam on society. Jihadism: spread Islamism with force.
- p020 N: Islamism 25% Egypt, less elsehwere
- p023 N: shari'ah and death for apostates is tribalist punishment of outgroups, religion is used to justify that
- p024-27 N: beyond Islamism is "lifestyle conservatives" who resist state impositions so they can retain the right to individual interpretation. They can be allies against Islamism, but often have anti-liberal attitudes. "That puts reform-minded liberal Muslims in a really, really difficult position,
- p027 N: Dr. Usana Hasan, UK's lead reform theologian.
- p030 N: Muslims integrate better in US than Britain, most American Muslims probably support reform.
- p040 N: Hizb ut-Tahrir ... we were taught that if the regime kills you while you are attempting to recruit army officers, you'll be a martyr ... but you are not a martyr if you blow yourself up in a marketplace, because you are killing civilians and other Muslims.
- p041 N: Some jihadists are not "pious" ... the simply prefer the violence ...
- p049 N: regressive leftists who censure liberal Muslims as "culturally inauthentic"
- p050 N: reverse racism: holding "native" communities to lesser "more culturally authentic" standards disempowers them.
- fetishizing Muslim ghettos, errand boys for tinpot chieftains
- a remnant of socialist prioritization of group identity over individual autonomy
- thowback to British "divide and rule"
- Classical liberalism (not US Democrat Party) focuses on individual autonomy
p051 N: feminist Muslims, gay Muslims, ex-Muslims, stigamatized for being against the norm
- p052 N: Greece Golden Dawn, English Defense League neonazis also anti Muslim, anti C.liberal
- p057 N, H: catalog of irrelevancy, extemists attacking local groups with "US foreign policy" as justification
p058 N: pastor threatening to burn Koran more outraging than daily atrocities by Sunni against Shia
- p061 H: Christian fundamentalism == narrow inerrancy, while "moderate" Muslims say Qur'an literal word of God
- p061 N: 2 errors: current snapshot Islam for all time, focusing on text rather than on interpretation method
- vacuous literalism
p062 N: Mu'tazila, Qu'ran not eternal word of God, modern advocate Iranian AbdulKarim Soroush
- defeated by Imam Ash'ari
- p063 N: doctrine shaped by power (i.e. Council of Nicea)
- p070 N: the issue isn't the physical text, it is the intepretation and methods
p073 N: I don't accept there is a correct reading of scripture in essence To interpret any text you need a methodology, which as jurispudential, linguistic, philosophical, historical, and moral perspectives.
- p074 N: Quentin Skinner essay "Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas"
p074 N: literal readings implies correct (vacuous) meanings
- p076 N: Gay pride march in Turkey, Ramadan 2014
p076 N: Sunnis have no clergy. ijtihad == interpretation, only clergy can close door on interpretation
- if no "right" answer, pluralism is the only option, leading to secularism, democracy, and human rights
- p078 N: Sufi groups Mulaamatiyya and Qalandariyya keen on their right to sin, because God wants repentance, not perfection
Oh, my people, if you don't sin and repent, I will bring a group pf people more blessed than you will sin and do repent, because I want your repentance.
p090 N: The arabic word khamr is presumed to mean alcohol, but the literal interpretation is wine from grapes.
- p118 N: last two years of George W. Bush recognized that the ideology must be discredited, not militarily defeated.
- Obama restarted the war rhetoric, and ignored what the Bush team had learned, "ditched the values and kept the gun".
p119 N: more drone strikes than Bush, and a secret kill list