I’m reading Maajid Nawaz’s book Radical. It’s intensely interesting, and (not surprisingly) disturbing.
One thing about it that’s slightly odd is that so far, at least (Part One), he describes a totally male world and discusses it from a completely male point of view. Women just aren’t there, nor are girls in his childhood. He mentions women only as consumer items, things to “chase.”
Sometimes their absence is really surprising. For instance there’s a part where he writes about his older brother Osman’s shift to Islamism. It includes one of those offhand mentions of women as things –
Osman started going with Nasim to his talks and study circles, and pretty soon became a changed person. Everything we’d been doing together – going to clubs, chasing women – was now anathema to him. [p 48]
– and then there’s discussion of the fact that until then the brothers had sided more with their mother “and taken advantage of her more liberal views” but now Osman was sharing their father’s interest in Islam. He thought the sons were becoming traditional Muslims, and was pleased…
…and that led, inevitably, to a change of mood in the household: the balance of power, as it were, had started to shift. You could see it in Abi’s reaction. She didn’t know how to respond to Osman’s criticism of her behavior. Later on, when I joined him, she would become even more isolated. [pp 48-9]
And that’s all; in the next paragraph he moves on. He hadn’t mentioned “Osman’s criticism of her behavior” before and doesn’t go on to say more about it, and I want to know more. What behavior? And how did Osman go about criticizing it? I can imagine all too easily, but I don’t want to imagine, I want to know. It seems like a very important point, to me, but Maajid does nothing with it.
Then an even more striking example, at the end of Part One when he is discussing Hizb al-Tahrir’s idea of “the Khilafah,” the Caliphate.
It would sweep across all national boundaries; HT’s version of Islam would be the ruling philosophy. Apostates, adulterers, and minorities considered abhorrent, like homosexuals, would suffer the death sentence. Criminality would be met with rough justice; thieves would have their hands cut off. Rights such as free speech would be curtailed, because “God’s law” must trump all. [p 61]
And that’s the end of that topic. Notice anything missing? Yeah. Not a word about women; nothing for instance about how differently “adulterers” who are women are treated compared to men. Nothing about child marriage or having to “cover” or being confined to home, nothing about polygamy or unequal inheritance or domestic violence.
It’s an uncomfortable read in this way. I hope he knows a lot more women now.