American Muslim convert and Harvard Islamic studies graduate student Michael Muhammed Knight is an essayist, a novelist, and performance artist who embraces a rebellious, alternative interpretation of Islam. His mission? To “shed antiquated and retrograde seventh-century ideas and make Islam consistent with the liberations of the 21st century.”
In his work and his spirituality, he strives to separate himself from conservatives who view Islamic as a monolithic, uncompromising orthodoxy, a worldview he feels is linked to undemocratic governmental rule.
An account of his travels through the Muslim world, “Journey to the End of Islam” has been published. It profiles the diversity of practice in Islam while critiquing conservative values.
“I had chosen Islam because it was the religion of Malcolm X, a language of resistance against unjust power. But in Pakistan, Islam was the unjust power…Pakistan’s Islam was guilty of everything for which I rebelled against Reagan-Falwell Christianity in America.”
After a glimpse into Muslim cultures across the globe, Knight has a better understanding of its multiplicity. He also has faith in American freedom. “In a weird way, America can save Islam.”