I. The Origin Story

Reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and recommended by Foreign Policy magazine among 25 books to read in 2013, My Isl@m: How Fundamentalism Stole My Mind – And Doubt Freed My Soul (St. Martin’s Press, New York) is a searing coming of age memoir and gripping read about a new generation of cultural disruptors hacking religion and politics. It is a disarming tale of doubt and soul-searching, and a moving account of how the Internet opened the eyes and heart of one young Muslim man to “a world beyond the conspiracy theories and religious fundamentalism of his early youth,” and ultimately to freedom.

(Image: The Wall Street Journal)

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II. The Aftermath

Following the release of My Isl@m in June 2013, the book was banned in Malaysia were Amir resided at the time, and forced him to seek political asylum in Canada.

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III. What Authors and Reviewers Are Saying About My Isl@m

“From Iran’s Green Revolution to the Arab Spring, the world has watched the Internet spark and fuel uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa in recent years. Raised in Sudan and Qatar as a devout Muslim, Amir Ahmad Nasr was among those young Muslims who took to the web, first blogging anonymously in 2006 before revealing his identity in 2011, amid the year’s wave of Arab uprisings. Now, the cheeky voice behind “Sudanese Thinker” describes in his first book a personal journey that reflects a widespread trend with important political and cultural implications — how the Internet “opened [his] eyes and heart to a world beyond the conspiracy theories and religious fundamentalism of his early youth.””

– Foreign Policy, What to Read in 2013

“Amir is one of the most exciting and dynamic Muslim voices to come on the stage in years. Read this funny and enlightening book and find out why.”

– Reza Aslan, #1 NY Times best-selling author of Zealot

“Amir has an innate journalist’s ability and curiosity to see the worlds around him openly… If you have any question of what technology can do for people trying to make change from the bottom up, Amir’s life experiences will remove all doubt.”

– Christopher M. Schroeder, former CEO and Publisher of WashingtonPost.com and Newsweek.com

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“One of the most enlightened books about religion that I think I’ve ever read.”

– Brian Lehrer, host of The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC Radio

My Isl@m displays the charm of a good blog: irreverent, nonchalant, open to fresh ideas, generous to other writers, ostentatiously unpretentious and secretly grandiose. Mr. Nasr appears to be convinced that his own intellectual trajectory from medieval-style Quran-memorizing to thoughtful dude, digitally loquacious, reflects a deep trend in world history, with the Internet as prime mover. He never openly states this conviction. And yet it animates the book, and the possibility that he may be right imparts to his pages an electric glow, as if from an LCD screen.”

– Paul Berman, author of The Flight of the Intellectuals

“This is the passionate, skeptical, tech-savvy voice of a new age of Islam. Through the lens of his own life, Nasr sheds light on a generation of revolutionary life-hackers poised to change the global conversation about religion and politics.”

– G. Willow Wilson, author of Alif the Unseen and Marvel Comics’ new Ms. Marvel series

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My Isl@m is an important and significant book, especially at this time in our history. Amir shows both the downside and, as important, the beautiful upside of Islam as a religion, particularly when it is viewed through an Integral lens, which is how religion in general will need to be viewed if it is to survive into the future as a positive force. This is the right message, at the right time, from the right person.”

– Ken Wilber, philosopher and author of A Brief History of Everything

My Isl@m is a beautiful story about love, heartbreak, and redemption.
Read it, and be inspired.”

– Salman Ahmad, lead-singer of Junoon and author of Rock & Roll Jihad

“Nasr seamlessly blends memoir with political thought and activism. The book smoothly follows his journey out of a simplistic understanding of Islam, through rationalism and semi-atheism, towards a conversion to Sufism. Personal history—particularly his expatriate childhood—is the book’s strongest aspect, delivered in Nasr’s casual, conversational tone. Nasr’s insight into the world of young Arab bloggers, including many of the activists behind the Arab Spring, makes this a valuable and enjoyable read.”

– Publishers Weekly, starred review

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My Isl@m is a love letter to freedom of speech. As Nasr wrestles with oppression, mental and physical, personal and political, his story consistently turns on his ability to find new information, often from surprising sources, and eventually from his own ability to speak as well as listen.”

– Clay Shirky, NYU Professor and author of The Cognitive Surplus

“As a former Christian fundamentalist, I deeply resonate with Amir’s faith journey. Regardless of your religious background, if you’re struggling with belief or if you’re curious about how the digital revolution is impacting religious thought and empowering a new generation of young activists, this book is a must!”

– Michael Dowd, author of Thank God for Evolution

“The post 9/11 world has seen an outpouring of vitriol against the Muslim faith. This book provides an antidote to such thinking, from a man who grew up immersed in an environment too few of us understand. This is a brave and moving work that touches on Palestine, terrorism, web activism, love and life in a way that shows the nuances within Islam. I salute the desire to reject fundamentalism. It makes us question what the ‘war on terror’ has done to us all.”

– Antony Loewenstein, author of The Blogging Revolution

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“Structured wittily around a love affair with Islam, Nasr’s account is straightforward, fluent and full of lively allusions for further readings. A candid, cosmopolitan look at the experience of Islam in the digital age.”

– Kirkus Reviews

“This book is a gift to the generation that grew under the darkness of Sudan’s murderous regime (whether inside or outside Sudan), the National Congress Party. It is a song to freedom of expression, freedom of thought and critical inquiry, and freedom from organized religion. It will shake the foundations of many Muslims who have never been exposed to Islamic or Western philosophy; it will create a stir in a closed society like Sudan where the debate on religion, the secular state, and identity has been stunted.”

– Dalia Haj-Omar, prominent Sudanese human rights advocate

“Like every age, ours is one of political and religious unrest, of fanaticism, persecution and rebellion. But today, people have the technological tools to be heard–despite the powers that be. The Internet is not only a force for quick communication, but for unheard-of access to education. And Amir Ahmad Nasr shows in his powerful, timely and provocative work how he was able to move beyond a narrow worldview into one that embraces liberty, freedom, brotherhood and even belief. My Isl@m is an essential book for these dangerous, exciting times.”

– Michael R. Drew, co-author, Pendulum: How Past Generations Shape Our Present and Predict Our Future

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“This inspiring memoir is a MUST read book for a glimpse into the future of Islam and the inner world of the next generation of Muslims. Nasr writes passionately about his search for the heart and soul of Islam in the postmodern context. He addresses the conundrums of the faith for those of us who have had the blessing of a sound secular education, in the new digital age where open source information is increasingly accessible to all. He settles on an integral vision of Islam aligned with an emerging globalized culture, which is still true to the spirit of the Islam of its founder. He confirms, through his own unique quest as a blogger, that Islam is an inner state of consciousness with which Muslims can authentically engage the world and not necessarily a time-bound religion, limited to an ethnocentric traditional lifestyle based on a set of archaic rules and practices.”

– Jalaledin Ebrahim, a reader

“I happened to pick [Amir’s book] up at a library just out of curiosity. I could not put it down. Amir writes in an engaging, conversational tone and draws you into his story.”

– Laura A. Wiest, a reader

“I liked the book so much that I read the book in less than three days despite my many preoccupations with other pressing tasks.”

– Bhamy Shenoy, a reader

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