Michael Muhammad Knight grew up in an Irish-Catholic-working-class family in upstate New York. And as a teenager, he found himself at a unique crossroads: he wanted to either continue writing letters to Charles Manson or devote his time to studying Islam.
He chose the latter, and that decision changed the course of his life. A year later, Knight had converted to Islam and spent two months studying the religion in Pakistan.
He is now a prolific and published writer who has documented his evolving religious beliefs in a range of novels, memoirs, and essays. He is a well-known provocateur, and his latest book continues in that trend. “Why I Am a Salafi” (Soft Skull Press/2015) is Knight’s attempt to confront the roots of Islamic fundamentalism and understand how they shape his own religious faith today.
Host Frank Stasio talks to author Michael Muhammad Knight, a PhD candidate at UNC-Chapel Hill, about his life and writing.