If one wanted a youthful perspective on the relationship between Islam and the West, striking up a conversation with Moiz Malik Khan would be a good starting point. Born in Pakistan, Moiz moved with his family to the United States when he was two years old. Moiz, a devout Muslim growing up, first fasted during Ramadan at age eight, consistently prayed five time a day, and, with his relatives, went to Koranic study classes throughout his teenage years. A YouTube video of Richard Dawkins began an investigation into his faith that would eventually lead him away from Islam.
There is no word for “atheist” in Arabic, only one for “nonbeliever,” one who knows that God exists but will not admit so openly. Moiz became exposed to the idea of atheism through his study of philosophy and history, as well as through the scientific theories that challenged the fundamental tenets of his religion. As he lost his faith, he began to tell his family. He found, surprisingly, that many of his Muslim relatives were receptive to his ideas. While he recognizes that secularizing the Muslim world will take time, he’s optimistic that modern technology can play a crucial role in speeding up that process.