Amir Ahmad Nasr is the author of the searing memoir and critically acclaimed book My Isl@m: How Fundamentalism Stole My Mind – And Doubt Freed My Soul – recommended by Foreign Policy in its list of 25 books to read in 2013.
Set in war-ravaged Sudan, oil-rich Qatar, multi-cultural Malaysia, the United States, Turkey, and the frontlines of the digital revolution, My Isl@m is a fascinating prelude to the Arab Spring and a disarming tale of doubt, soul-searching, and how the Internet opened the eyes and heart of a young Muslim man to “a world beyond the conspiracy theories and religious fundamentalism of his early youth.”
Shortly after its release, the book was banned in a number of countries, and forced Amir to seek, and thankfully attain, political asylum in Canada where he now resides.
As a result of his decade-long work at the intersection of culture, digital media, and current affairs, Amir has shared the stage with Nobel Peace Laureates, former presidents, and fellow entrepreneurs, and was highlighted by WIRED as a “formidable speaker.”
He has been described by #1 NYT best-selling author Reza Aslan as “one of the most exciting and dynamic Muslim voices to come on the stage in years,” and is an outspoken human rights advocate and veteran digital activist. Commenting on his book, Christopher M. Schroeder, former CEO and Publisher of WashingtonPost.com remarked “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.”
Amir’s work has appeared and been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, France24, Al Jazeera English, CBC, WNYC, and many more media outlets in over 12 languages across the globe.
Prior to writing My Isl@m, he was an early team member at Mindvalley, an award-winning EdTech company, as well as the formerly anonymous voice behind the sociopolitical blog The Sudanese Thinker, until the revelation of his identity at the height of the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011.
Amir is an advisory member of the International Council at the Human Rights Foundation, and the founder of AssertiveU, an upcoming startup that aims to reinvent the creative writing program for today’s multicultural age and digital economy.Download Bio
How Fundamentalism Stole My Mind - And Doubt Freed My Soul
St. Martin's Press
Part memoir, part passionate call for liberty, reason and doing work that matters, My Isl@m tells the tale of how the internet opened the eyes and heart of a once fearful young Muslim to a world beyond the dogmatism of his upbringing, and recounts his transformation into a defiant digital activist.
In this engaging story-driven presentation, based on Amir's memoir and widely-read essay ISIS Isn’t the Real Enemy, The “Game of Thrones” Medieval Mindset That Birthed It Is, Amir offers an eye-opening assessment of the ISIS phenomenon.
Using a holistic analysis that former Middle East editor of The Guardian, Brian Whitaker, noted "really grasps the scale of the problem," Amir deconstructs the interconnected factors driving ISIS, and explains why military force alone will solve nothing in the long-run.
Instead, Amir proposes a feasible concerted effort to overcome the destructive consciousness that birthed ISIS, and to unshackle the creative imagination of Muslim youth everywhere. To get there, he stresses, we must assertively stand for basic cross-cultural liberal values, and build on the promising entrepreneurial media and education efforts currently underway in the Arab world and beyond, facilitated by technology.
The Rewiring of Muslims and The Future of Liberty On today's world stage, few topics are more pressing than the retreat of liberal democracy, the ramifications of the digital revolution, and Islam's violently contested role in public life.
In this unique stats-meet-stories presentation, rather than explore these three global currents separately, Amir demonstrates how their dynamic interplay presents us with great challenges as well as great opportunities where they intersect.
Reflecting on the impact of mobile digital connectivity on Islam, and cultural liberalization as a force for good, Amir paints a vivid picture that illuminates our present and envisions a better future for Islamdom, liberty, and our common humanity.
Who Are You Not to Do Something: Redefining Leadership for the Digital Age In this presentation, drawing from wide-ranging current literature, as well as personal and entrepreneurial experience on the front lines of the digital revolution, Amir makes a compelling case for why, despite all the news of ongoing havocs and catastrophes, there’s never been a better time in human history to exercise one’s own individual agency and leadership in the pursuit of self-mastery and a better society.
Through compelling and gripping stories, Amir calls upon us to celebrate the "descent of power" and to embrace the promise of exponential technology, with the ultimate aim of reshaping our lives and our world for the better.
– Zikry Kholil and Daniel de Gruiter, co-founders of Incitement
“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
“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.”
– The Wall Street Journal
“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
“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
“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
“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