Maajid Nawaz works to promote conversation, tolerance and democracy in Muslim and non-Muslim communities.
As a teenager, British-born Maajid Nawaz was recruited to the global Islamist party Hizb ut-Tahrir, whose goal, broadly put, is to unite all Muslim countries into one caliphate ruled by Islamic law. He spent more than a decade there, rising into its leadership, until sentenced to four years in an Egyptian prison for belonging to the group. But he left prison feeling that Hizb ut-Tahrir was hijacking Islam for political purposes and that its aims were dangerously similar to the aims of fascism. While remaining a Muslim, he was no longer an Islamist.
His goal now is to help Muslims in the West engage in their current political frameworks, while encouraging non-Western Muslims to work for a democratic culture that values peace and women’s rights. To that end, in 2009, he founded Khudi, a counter-extremism social movement working to promote a democratic culture in Pakistan. In the UK, the think tank he co-founded, Quilliam, engages in “counter-Islamist thought-generating” -- looking for new narratives of citizenship, identity and belonging in a globalized world.
He says: "I can now say that the more I learnt about Islam, the more tolerant I became."
“Ironically, xenophobic nationalists are utilizing the benefits of globalization.”
“There are no globalized, youth-led, grassroots social movements advocating for democratic culture across Muslim-majority societies. There is no equivalent of Al-Qaeda without the terrorism.”