Cover image for The atheist Muslim : a journey from religion to reason / Ali A. Rizvi.
Title:
The atheist Muslim : a journey from religion to reason / Ali A. Rizvi.
ISBN:
9781250094445
Edition:
First editon.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : St. Martin's Press, 2016.

©2016
Physical Description:
247 pages ; 25 cm
Contents:
Smoke break -- Root causes -- Letting go (part I): the born-again skeptic -- A tale of two identities -- Choosing atheism -- Islamophobia-phobia and the "regressive left" -- The Quran: misinterpretation, metaphor, and misunderstanding -- Reformation and secularism -- Letting go (part II): the silver lining.
Abstract:
"In much of the Muslim world, religion is the central foundation upon which family, community, morality, and identity are built. The inextricable embodiment of religion in Muslim culture has forced a new generation of non-believing Muslims to face the heavy costs of abandoning their parents' religion: disowned by their families, marginalized from their communities, imprisoned, or even sentenced to death by their governments. Struggling to reconcile the Muslim society he was living in as a scientist and physician and the religion he was being raised in, Ali A. Rizvi eventually loses his faith. Discovering that he is not alone in his beliefs, he moves to North America and promises to use his new freedom of speech to represent the voices that are usually quashed before reaching the mainstream media--the Atheist Muslim. In The Atheist Muslim, we follow Rizvi as he finds himself caught between two narrative voices he cannot relate to: extreme Islam and anti-Muslim bigotry in a post-9/11 world. The Atheist Muslim recounts the journey that allows Rizvi to criticize Islam--as one should be able to criticize any set of ideas--without demonizing his entire people. Emotionally and intellectually compelling, his personal story outlines the challenges of modern Islam and the factors that could help lead it toward a substantive, progressive reformation"-- Provided by publisher.
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Summary

Summary

In much of the Muslim world, religion is the central foundation upon which family, community, morality, and identity are built. The inextricable embedment of religion in Muslim culture has forced a new generation of non-believing Muslims to face the heavy costs of abandoning their parents' religion: disowned by their families, marginalized from their communities, imprisoned, or even sentenced to death by their governments.

Struggling to reconcile the Muslim society he was living in as a scientist and physician and the religion he was being raised in, Ali A. Rizvi eventually loses his faith. Discovering that he is not alone, he moves to North America and promises to use his new freedom of speech to represent the voices that are usually quashed before reaching the mainstream media--the Atheist Muslim.

In The Atheist Muslim , we follow Rizvi as he finds himself caught between two narrative voices he cannot relate to: extreme Islam and anti-Muslim bigotry in a post-9/11 world. The Atheist Muslim recounts the journey that allows Rizvi to criticize Islam--as one should be able to criticize any set of ideas--without demonizing his entire people. Emotionally and intellectually compelling, his personal story outlines the challenges of modern Islam and the factors that could help lead it toward a substantive, progressive reformation.


Author Notes

ALI A. RIZVI grew up in Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan before moving to Canada and the United States when he was 24. Rizvi has been writing extensively about secularism in the Muslim world for several years, working as a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and being published on major media outlets like CNN. Rizvi is also a medical communications professional and a trained physician and oncologic pathologist.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Rizvi combines a deconversion memoir with a rehashing of "new atheist" arguments to explain his transition from Islam to atheism. Raised in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, he experienced repressive Islam firsthand before renouncing the faith in North America as a young adult in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Rizvi makes his most original and concise points when calling out the hypocrisy of liberals who attempt to defend Islam unreservedly. By arguing against platitudes such as "terrorist are not really Muslims" or "Islam is essentially peaceful," Rizvi brings nuance to understanding the connections among religion, frustration, and violence for young Muslims. In doing so, he shows that religious institutions make terrorism possible. His personal story unfortunately recedes into brief anecdotes while he embarks on longer explanations of and arguments against religion in general. His lines of thought will be familiar to most who have read other New Atheist works, but his careful explanation of the problems facing metaphorical readings of the Qur'an and other Islam-specific issues add a good insider's perspective to the debate. By demanding a space for questioning Islam openly that does not devolve into attacking individual Muslims, the work pushes towards the possibility of a cultural Islam that maintains family and ethnic traditions without requiring belief. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

In his first book, Pakistani Canadian physician and scientist Rizvi thoughtfully explores the difficulties of embracing a Muslim identity while rejecting the tenets of the religion itself. While there are well-trod paths for unbelievers who are Christian or Jewish, cultural Islam presents a unique set of challenges. Rizvi's narrative is part memoir-going back to his upbringing in Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan-and part critique of Islam. One of the strongest recurring themes throughout is the important but frequently conflated difference between criticizing Islam (an idea) and demonizing Muslims (a people). Perhaps his most insightful contribution is a chapter against "Islamophobia-Phobia," in which Rizvi calls out Western liberals for their common unintentional support of decidedly illiberal positions out of fear of being associated with anti-Muslim bigotry. Other chapters examine various Islamic beliefs and frequently cited verses of the Quran, challenging commonly held platitudes such as, "It's politics, not religion." Overall, Rizvi presents an empathetic, well-argued, and hopeful case for a more secular humanistic Muslim path. VERDICT Recommended for similarly unbelieving Muslims and for readers interested in a perspective on Islam that falls between the extremes of unconditional acceptance and xenophobic intolerance.-Brian Sullivan, Alfred Univ. Lib., NY © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

1 Smoke Breakp. 1
2 Root Causesp. 17
3 Letting Go (Part I): The Born-Again Skepticp. 58
4 A Tale of Two Identitiesp. 83
5 Choosing Atheismp. 99
6 Islamophobia-Phobia and the "Regressive Left"p. 130
7 The Quran: Misinterpretation, Metaphor, and Misunderstandingp. 161
8 Reformation and Secularismp. 190
9 Letting Go (Part II): The Silver Liningp. 215
Acknowledgmentsp. 225
Notesp. 227
Indexp. 241

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