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Get to know an Atheist Blogger Moiz Khan Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This week we've got an extremely fascinating interview with Moiz Khan. Reminds me a bit of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's story. I won't ruin it. Enjoy...

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself. Where did you come from? What are you doing now? Where you're going?

Hello, thank you for this opportunity. I am Moiz Khan and I was born in Pakistan 18 years ago. My parents were married for around five years at the time, and they already had two children. After applying for their Visa's multiple times they finally got their chance in 1992 and they took it. We moved from Lahore, Pakistan to New York City. There were two main reasons for this, education and my father's lifelong hate for hot weather. By 2000, we moved again, about 60 miles east of the city to the suburbs. As you can see, change has always been part of my life. Right now I am attending Stony Brook University for a double major in History and Philosophy. I love the world of the academia, so that is exactly where I am headed. I want the ability to teach people how to think for themselves and without fear or dogma as I have learned through a long struggle.

Q. What made you decide to blog about atheism of all things?

I actually began my blog while I still was a religious person. The original purpose of my blog was just politics (I was always very liberal) and to have a little fun writing. It was never intended to become what it did, though I am quite glad it has. From December 2006 to September 2007, it was mostly inactive. I was just too busy with schoolwork to give it much time. I then posted "My 'Spiritual' Journey" on October 5th, 2007 (that is actually around the time when I abandoned my Muslim faith for the Atheistic worldview). By November, I had wrote the second part of "My 'Spiritual' Journey." Almost right after posting these two blogs, I received an overwhelmingly positive response via email. People told me of their similar journeys, and this gave me the reason to continue. From that point on, I posted about my personal Atheism, Politics (as it effects all of us) and my other love, Music.

Q. How long have you known that you are an atheist?

I can't actually pinpoint the exact date, as it was a gradual process. However, for much of 2007 I was an agnostic and somewhat on the fence. I think around mid 2007 is when I became an anti-theist and atheist. So I suppose I have been an atheist for a little over a year.

Q. Having gone through a difficult and slow progression from a young Muslim to a blogging atheist, what advice would you give those that are afraid of coming out, or aren't sure what they really believe?

The first step is to actually understand the faith. When I was growing up, I could recite the Quran in Arabic, but knew nothing of what those Arabic words actually meant. We were told to accept it because it was true by our parents and other elders. For the millions of Muslims who don't actually know Arabic, I would suggest reading the Quran in their language. It contains certain material that can make any reasonable person sick to their stomach. Don't cherry pick which parts you like and which you don't either. If it is the supposed word of an all-powerful god, I doubt god would put in useless material. Then, read on the incompatibility between modern science and religion. Once you understand that science and religion simply can't coexist in an intellectually satisfying way, read about evolution. So in that process you will have, first rejected religion, second understood that religion and what we now know about the world can't be combined. Finally you will learn of the beautiful alternative (evolution by natural selection) that is far more intellectual satisfying.

Q. You actively speak out against Islam on your blog. What do you think the biggest problem with Islam is, and what do you think the atheist community can do to help stem the tide of the worlds fastest growing religion?

The major problem with the Islamic world is its clash with modernity. When Muslims move to Western countries, they rarely assimilate into the culture. Rather, they stay far away from it. They are essentially living in their own worlds even when they are in modern societies. The children grow without understanding the other culture, and they continue the cycle with their children. In Europe, there have been quite a few movements that clashed with organized religion. The Renaissance, Protestant Reformation, Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment come to mind. These movements had two major effects, water down Christianity and advance the idea of the godless (or at least no personal god) world view. In the Muslim world, there are no comparable movements. Islam has never been watered down, only grown more extreme in certain cases. I rarely meet a Muslim who even considers that part of the Quran might be metaphorical. Most Muslims really do believe in the literal truth of every single word in the Quran...this gets even more complicated because most of those don't even know Arabic. So they are brainwashed by their local mosques and elders to believe the particular brand of Islam that their community follow. Thus, the biggest problem of Islam is the lack of movements against it from within.

Partially due to the British and now American imperialism of the Middle East, most of those countries are in a state similar to most Western Countries were 100-200 years ago. So I believe the best course of action for Atheists at a national level in the Western world is to urge their governments to end their grapple hold over Middle Eastern politics. Such as support for the tyrannical kings in Saudi Arabia, a focal point in the Islamic world. The US has supported military dictators and Islamic extremists (Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan) for many years, and this has effectively stopped the already weak secular and atheistic movements in the Middle East. Another major thing is I think Atheists should be more vocal in their criticism of Islam. Most Atheists mainly criticize Judaism and Christianity, and this allows Muslims who are guilty of equally disgusting crimes to go under the radar.

Q. What excites you most about the current state of atheism? What are you optimistic about?

The level to which we are beginning to get organized. We currently are a rather large minority (and probably larger than the statistics due to folks in the closet) and we are growing quickly. I am helping start a club at my university called, "SBU Freethinkers" and we already have somewhere around 60 members. Many of these members are incoming freshman and sophomores. It seems that atheism is growing quickly amongst the younger generation. With regards to optimism, in America, I want to reach the point where major politicians don't have to praise god in every speech. Also, I still hold out hope for the Middle East. As I said earlier, the Islamic world clashes with modernity. Sooner or later, this clash will become too large to be avoided by those Muslims, and hopefully it heads in the right direction, the secular direction.

Q. How has your blogging affected your life?

It has made me gain interest in the Atheist and Secular cause. In America, we face the possibility of heading closer to a theocracy or heading towards a more secular state, as intended by the founding fathers. Both of these roads are possible and it all depends on each individual citizen to their part. I personally will work within my local community to help further science education (to me, the most essential education). Without blogging I would have most likely not become so passionate for the secular cause. I also would have become some sort of lawyer instead of my current plan to become a professor.

Q. What advice would you give those that are new to the idea of atheism, that aren't quite sure what they believe, and could use some direction?

Don't be afraid to let it all go. Fear is one of the main reasons why many stay with religion. Of course, the fear comes in many different shapes and forms. Some are afraid of a possible community backlash, or their family, or death. But fear is pointless for it only restricts us. This is the only life that you will get, and you might as well make the most of it. Socrates said it best,"The pursuit of truth can only begin once you start to question and analyze every belief that you ever held dear. If a certain belief passes the tests of evidence, deduction, and logic, it should be kept and defended. .If it doesn't, the belief should not only be discarded, but you must also then question why you were led to believe the erroneous information in the first place." I believe that the pursuit of truth is the only road to true happiness.
Thanks Moiz! Powerful stuff. So much to learn from this I don't even know what to say.

If you have a follow up question you'd like to ask Moiz, feel free to post them in the comments, or simply head on over to Moiz's site at http://moizkhan.com/blog/.

Lenny Rachitsky

 

http://blog.atheistspot.com/2008/09/get-to-know-atheist-blogger-moiz-khan.html

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