Former Islamic Extremist's Jihad Against the Extremist Narrative

Libertarian Muslim

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I recently came across an interesting story from an old episode from 60 Minutes that was made a few years ago. It follows Majid Nawaz, a devout Muslim and former extremist and founder of the anti-extremism think tank The Quilliam Foundation in his efforts to challenge the extremist narrative that the West is intent on destroying Islam which extremist groups use to radicalize young Muslims around the World.

Nawaz, who I'd recently come across whilst attending the Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow Conference in Qatar was in the leadership of Hizb Tahrir in the UK and who not only talked the talk of extremism, but also walked the walk by recruiting others to their ideology. As a part of his recruitment drive Nawaz went to places like Pakistan and Egypt and was arrested by the Egyptian police in a post 9/11 crack down on religious extremists in Egypt. He was tortured and imprisoned for 5 years after being found guilty by an Egyptian court for terrorist offenses, which in Egypt anyone can be charged with for simply speaking out against the tyrannical Egyptian government.

During his time in prison Nawaz came into contact with the assassins of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat who had abandoned their extremist ideologies. Nawaz attempted to engage in dialogue with these prisoners in an attempt to re-radicalize them but instead, through learning from their experiences in prison as well as studying Islam in its original language came to the understanding that this extremist ideology that he had previously practiced as a part of Hizb Tahrir was in fact contrary to the teachings of Islam. On his return to the West, Nawaz resigned from being the head of Hizb Tahrir and has since launched himself into a new Jihad, fighting the extremist narrative he helped previously propagate.

The notion that the West is at war with Islam is a huge fallacy but unfortunately due to the lack of Muslims countering it we find that too often, young Muslims are being drawn into this belief without being challenged with opposing ideas.

There can be no doubt as to the importance of the role that people like Majid Nawaz and his organization, the Quilliam Foundation currently plays and will play in the future. It is vitally important that people like Majid Nawaz have the support of the Muslim world as well as the West as the role he plays in fighting the ideas of such extremism before people become terrorists has not really been filled by anyone else.


Edited by Adonis Vlahos
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