||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2007)|
|Born||Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, England|
|Education||BA in Law and Arabic and MSc in Political Theory|
|Alma mater||London University, London School of Economics|
|Organization||Quilliam Foundation, Khudi Pakistan|
|Notable work(s)||Radical: My Journey out of Islamist Extremism|
Maajid Nawaz (ماجد نواز, born 1978) is a British Pakistani and former member of the Islamic political group Hizb ut-Tahrir. He holds a B.A. (Hons) from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and a M.Sc. in Political Theory from the London School of Economics. He is the co-founder and Executive Director of Quilliam, the world's first counter-extremism think tank. He is also the co-founder of Khudi, a counter-extremism social movement working towards the promotion of social democratic change in Pakistan.
Nawaz cites racism whilst growing up and feeling divided between his Pakistani and British identities as important factors in his struggle to find his own identity. The Nation of Islam and genocide in Bosnia also influenced him. Maajid's experience of Islamism began at the age of 16 when he left home to pursue a design course in London - it was then that he was recruited to Hizb ut-Tahrir (The Liberation Party). Maajid very quickly became a national speaker and international recruiter for the party, travelling first to Pakistan and then to Denmark to export the party's ideology and set up cells from London. He was arrested in December of 2001 in Egypt and remained in prison there until 2006. He resigned from Hizb-ut-Tahrir in May 2007.
Maajid Nawaz studied at Newham College of Further Education alongside the British writer Ed Husain. Today he is the Executive Director of the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think tank, created by former activists, including Husain, from radical Islamist organisations.
Nawaz entered the spotlight in 2002 when, as part of a compulsory year abroad as part of his university degree, he travelled to Egypt and was jailed in Alexandria with two others, Ian Nisbet and Reza Pankhurst, for belonging to Hizb ut-Tahrir, which was banned in Egypt.
During his time in the same prison he spoke at length with the Muslim Brotherhood leadership such as with Mohammed al-Badee’, who in his youth personally smuggled Qutb’s Milestones out from prison, and their spokesman Dr Essam el-Erian. He also befriended Dr Sa'ad al-Din Ibrahim and the imprisoned runner-up to Egypt's 2006 presidential elections, liberal head of the Tomorrow Party, Ayman Nur. Throughout this time, Maajid continued his studies, sitting with graduates of Cairo's Al-Azhar University and Dar al-'Ulum. He specialised in the Arabic language whilst studying historical Muslim scholastics, sources of Islamic jurisprudence, Hadith historiography and the art of Qur'an recitation. He also committed half of the Qur'an to memory.
Reasons for Nawaz’s departure from Hizb ut-Tahrir were due to profound doubts. As he describes in his own words: "My journey from prison was not an easy one to make. After all, there were many reasons for why I should not leave, and very few for why I should. The one reason that I could not ignore, the one reason that grew deep inside me till it consumed me with guilt was the realisation that I was abusing my faith for a mere political project. After learning through my studies in prison that Islamism was not the religion of Islam, but rather a modern political ideology, I no longer felt guilty simply for criticising a political system inspired by 7th century norms."
Since his departure from Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Maajid Nawaz has been active in the Quilliam Foundation. He also writes regularly for UK and international newspapers and speaks at a variety of forums worldwide. On July 11, 2008, he addressed US Senate Homeland Security and Government and Affairs Committee on the subject of Islamist extremism. In January 2009, he attended the Doha Debates alongside other Muslims to debate the threat of political Islam to the West. He presented the Lent Talks on BBC Radio Four on March 10, 2010.
In July 2012, WH Allen published Nawaz's memoir Radical in the UK. The US version, Radical: My Journey out of Islamist Extremism will be published by Lyons Press in October 2013 with a preface for U.S. readers and an updated epilogue.
The book recounts Maajid's teenage years listening to American hip-hop and learning about the radical Islamist movement spreading throughout Europe and Asia in the 1980s and 90s. At 16, he was already a ranking member in London's wing of Hizb ut-Tahrir(HT), a global Islamist group. He quickly rose through the ranks to become a top recruiter, and a 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, for his political beliefs.
He was sent to an Egyptian prison where he was jailed alongside the surviving assassins of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who had since become de-radicalized. Maajid credits discussions and debates with them with turning around his views on Islam.  He left prison four years later in 2006 after being labeled a 'prisoner of conscience' by Amnesty International.
Nawaz left HT in 2007 and began working to spread a more moderate view of Islam across the world and to speak out against the dangers of extremism. He met with activists and heads of state, including both George W. Bush and Tony Blair, built a network, and started a foundation, Quilliam, to combat the rising Islamist tide in Europe and elsewhere. He began an activist group in Pakistan as well, Khudi, using his knowledge of recruitment tactics in order to combat extremism. He has said that he wants to persuade Muslims that the ‘narrative’ used to recruit them (that the West is evil and the cause of all of Muslim suffering), is false.
At the age of 21, he married Rabia, then a fellow-activist within the Hizb-ut-Tahrir community and a biology student. Together they have one child, Ammaar. On Maajid's decision to leave Hizb-ut-Tahrir, they separated.
- "Women-Without-Borders - News". Women-Without-Borders. 2008-04-12. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
- Nawaz, Maajid. Radical: My Journey out of Islamist Extremism (Lyons Press, 2013)
- Extremist calls time. "London - TV - Extremist calls time". BBC. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
- Casciani, Dominic (2006-03-03). "UK | Freed Britons attack government". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
- "Amnesty International - Library - Egypt: Opening of trial of three Britons and 23 Egyptians raises unfair trial and torture concerns". Mafhoum.com. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
- "Why Leave the Radicals?". Quilliamfoundation.org. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
- "Events". Washingtoninstitute.org. Retrieved 2012-03-18.