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Why I Am A Salafi

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.

Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.