“The left is wrong on Islam. The right is wrong on Muslims.” — author Ali Rizvi

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These words were tweeted by Ali Rizvi, author of the new book The Atheist MuslimRizvi was born in Pakistan in 1975 into what he calls a “moderate to liberal Muslim family.” He was raised in Libya and later moved to Saudi Arabia, where he lived for more than a decade. He’s now a writer and physician based in Canada.

Rizvi’s book is partly a plea for secularism and partly a defense of Islam as a culture. It’s also an internal challenge to Islam as a body of doctrines. Rizvi speaks directly to agnostics, atheists, and humanists living in the Muslim world, enjoining them to embrace secular culture without abandoning their Muslim identity.

This is a difficult line to walk, and Rizvi does an admirable job of it.

I talked to him by phone about his book, what he hopes to accomplish, and what he meant when he wrote that the left is wrong about Islam and the right is wrong about Muslims. We also discussed what an “honest conversation” about Islam looks like and why the current political climate makes that conversation all the more difficult.

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