Profile of Maajid Nawaz

 
NL.
 
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27 January 2016 08:45
 

Taken with a grain of salt, as I think Nathan Lean is at odds with Maajid et al, but an interesting article. Personally, I’m relatively neutral on Nawaz at this point because he doesn’t seem to have any manner of idealistic streak, rather, he always seems to be playing to an audience (an idealistic streak is more or less a requirement in terms of public figures I admire) but that is really neither here nor there in terms of whether his actual actions are helpful or harmful, I guess.

 
 
Twissel
 
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28 January 2016 02:57
 

assuming everything in the article is true (though basically all of it is other’s peoples opinions, nothing more), that would still make Maajid Nawaz a perfect candidate as a moderate Muslim go-between:

in the above link, he is portrayed as a career seeker, someone who thought he could get the most out of life by rinsing through the ranks of a not-to-radical Islamic organization. And when that failed he decided to go the other way and become a career moderate and communicator.

In either case, we have an intelligent guy who, not out of any conviction but out of enlightened self-interest, aborted his slide into religious violence and became secular instead.
I think that is a perfect role-model for plenty of Muslims: think about yourself first and not any ideology.

 
 
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28 January 2016 10:04
 
Twissel - 28 January 2016 02:57 AM

assuming everything in the article is true (though basically all of it is other’s peoples opinions, nothing more), that would still make Maajid Nawaz a perfect candidate as a moderate Muslim go-between:

in the above link, he is portrayed as a career seeker, someone who thought he could get the most out of life by rinsing through the ranks of a not-to-radical Islamic organization. And when that failed he decided to go the other way and become a career moderate and communicator.

In either case, we have an intelligent guy who, not out of any conviction but out of enlightened self-interest, aborted his slide into religious violence and became secular instead.
I think that is a perfect role-model for plenty of Muslims: think about yourself first and not any ideology.


Theoretically that could be true but I don’t think he has much support in those communities. I feel like such things are ethereal - no one can “elect” themselves to a Martin Luther King-like position, whether that’s fair or not - you either resonate with a group or you don’t. I think if there are Islamic reformers - in more fundamentalist parts of the world - who make a real difference, they are likely going to be more religious than our Western sensibilities are comfortable with (that’s the thing about bridges, you don’t go from Point A to Point X in one jump, there’s a lot of interim there.) He could theoretically be a voice for moderate / liberal Muslims where the issue of fundamentalism doesn’t apply but the irony is that, in kind of being involved with both camps, I get the sense that he’s alienated both. A liberal Ivy League American might not agree with people in the south flying Confederate flags on the back of pickup trucks, but you will still create animosity if you are seen as being opposed to “Americans”. My sense is that the same is often true in the Muslim community.


I agree that he has a good skill set, though, and obviously a lot of “drive” in general, although the source of that drive isn’t particularly clear. I think he’ll have an interesting journey in life and find a niche to do good one way or the other, I just don’t know if ‘reformist’ is going to be it.

 
 
Twissel
 
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29 January 2016 00:45
 

I’m not sure, Nic.
I’m sure there are plenty of young Muslims who would love to just live in secular societies and not be overly concerned with religion. But they (rightly) fear being branded apostates and sell-outs.
If Narwaz manages to keep a sufficient number of Muslim supporters, his way would represent a viable alternative.

 
 
NL.
 
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30 January 2016 09:28
 
Twissel - 29 January 2016 12:45 AM

I’m not sure, Nic.
I’m sure there are plenty of young Muslims who would love to just live in secular societies and not be overly concerned with religion. But they (rightly) fear being branded apostates and sell-outs.
If Narwaz manages to keep a sufficient number of Muslim supporters, his way would represent a viable alternative.


Again, I don’t say this isn’t theoretically possible, just that he doesn’t seem to appeal to this cohort.


On a related note, Harris retweeted a Tweet praising a response the article today, and called the responding Tweet, which read “Shows the putrid morals of Regressives. They’d rather quote Hizb ut-Tahrir opposing @MaajidNawaz. Than write article opposing HT.” a “perfect distillation of the problem”. I actually find this quite worrisome. No doubt, I think people on the Left sometimes write things that are ill conceived at best and conspiracy mongering at worst. I remember Murtaza Hussain writing an article where he implied there was some kind of government conspiracy / coverup when a Muslim man was killed while resisting arrest because the people with him at the time said so - I mean, this is someone who’s holed up refusing to be arrested, I’m guessing the people with him were not a group of Girl Scouts and the local Shriners Club. Like by that logic, what, it would be breaking news if people in jail, or fellow gang members who witnessed their alleged crime, said they were actually innocent - like “Well this is new and unexpected information, let’s release them immediately!”. So yes, I think this can get into harmful mudslinging for the sake of mudslinging, and to what end? On the other hand, what is the alternative? Always discount any claim made by ‘bad people’? Insist anyone who listens to a criminal, a gang member, a prostitute, etc., is clearly the Regressive Left because they are not only upholding the word of good and righteous people? There are clearly other situations where that would be incredibly harmful as well. I agree that conspiracy theories and witch hunts are very harmful, but the line in the sand there is subjective, and if you push people to err too far to one side of it, no good can come of it - this is why we value freedom of speech so much in this country, despite all the problems that come with it. I am rather wary of the way they throw out the term “Regressive Left”.


As for the article, it makes some good points (many of the negative quotes come from people that have a reason to be at odds with Nawaz, often for very unfair reasons) some neutral ones (yes, Lean’s article cries “Financial ties!”, which technically should be neither here nor there in the absence of other evidence, but Harris himself retweeted that Lean was some kind of Saudi puppet because he works at Georgetown, of all places, so people tend to do this across the board), some that you could kind of bend either way based on perspective (yes, some people said Nawaz is a total opportunist and some said he was very devoted to Islamism - you could see those as contradictory or you could say that it was opportunistic for him to be involved with Islamism; or “Nawaz has already given a rebuttal to this accusation” - well I mean sure, but there’s no law that other people have to accept that rebuttal, simply giving a counter explanation is not like objectively proving something wrong); and some just plain silly “In Lean’s world, a Muslim must be a bearded, Kalashnikov wielding, hate preaching victim, and anyone who deviates from this stereotype or says that change is needed in certain Muslim circles, is not acceptable to the white American.” Um… ok, that’s not creating the false dichotomy of all false dichotomies or anything.


Anyways, again, I like Nawaz overall, but I just don’t think Islamic reformer is going to be his particular path in life. I could be wrong, but if not, again, I think there are many other interesting directions he might go. And maybe his role is more to shake up than reform, also possible - but I think he’s too divisive a figure, vs. a unifying one, to be a kind of grassroots leader.

[ Edited: 30 January 2016 09:36 by NL.]
 
 
Hesperado
 
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30 January 2016 12:36
 

“in the above link, he is portrayed as a career seeker, someone who thought he could get the most out of life by rinsing through the ranks of a not-to-radical Islamic organization. And when that failed he decided to go the other way and become a career moderate and communicator.

In either case, we have an intelligent guy who, not out of any conviction but out of enlightened self-interest, aborted his slide into religious violence and became secular instead. “

This spin of interpretation of the data is just Nathan Lean’s opinion about what the data means.  Why would a Sam Harris fan slavishly go along with the opinion of one of Sam Harris’s enemies? LOL

What this Nathan Lean article is is basically two things:

1. data about Nawaz

2. interpretations by Lean of the data.

The data is mostly the impressions and recollections of those who have known Nawaz—most ostensibly very well (a brother, a fellow terrorist who shared years of prison time with him in Egypt; etc.).  The data by itself (without the helpfully obfuscating interpretations overlaid by Lean) indicates that Nawaz is lying about his Damascus experience that supposedly transformed him from being an anti-West jihadist into being a pro-West “reformer”. 

The only way out of this indication of the data is to spin its purport with the intepretation helpfully supplied by Sam Harris’s enemy, Nathan Lean (Reza Aslan’s “gunsel,” as Robert Spencer has amusingly called him)—and then, even then (!), we see a Sam Harris/Nawaz Fan above (the reliably airheaded “Twissel”) find a way to still find in Nawaz our Great Brown Hope to help us solve the problem his Islam is causing all of us:

In either case, we have an intelligent guy who, not out of any conviction but out of enlightened self-interest, aborted his slide into religious violence and became secular instead.
I think that is a perfect role-model for plenty of Muslims: think about yourself first and not any ideology.

[ Edited: 30 January 2016 12:39 by Hesperado]