In his book , Rizvi speaks directly to the many closeted atheists, agnostics, and secularists in the Muslim world. These people are obliged by the societies in which they live to present themselves outwardly as Muslims, but in private, they harbor different ideas. Rizvi’s book is often polemical in tone, but also humane and sympathetic to the plight of Muslims around the world. He is keenly aware of the consolations which faith provide to some, and he never stoops to condescension.
If Rizvi is right, freethinkers in the Muslim world are more numerous than most of us suspect. Not only are their numbers growing, but they are becoming more and more emboldened. With eloquent and outspoken ex-Muslims such as Rizvi, who offer a message of hope and liberation from dogma, religious conservatives around the world should start to worry.
But the title is not necessarily self-descriptive, even though it has become that by now. You know, people say: “Oh, here’s Ali Rizvi, the Atheist Muslim.” In the first place, the title is addressing atheists who are closeted, who have to present themselves outwardly as Muslims. In the Muslim world, there are countless such freethinkers, atheists, and agnostics, who are going around presenting themselves as Muslims, because there are very serious consequences for openly saying what they are. You know all the reasons. It ranges from being rejected by their families, disowned and ostracized by their communities, to being persecuted, jailed, or even hacked to death, as with the Bangladeshi secular bloggers. These people are atheist in thought, but Muslim in appearance. They are all living a contradictory existence.