Ali Amjad Rizvi (born 29 May 1975) is a Pakistani-born Canadianex-Muslimatheist and secular humanist writer and podcaster who explores the challenges of Muslims who leave their faith. He writes a column for the Huffington Post and co-hosts the Secular Jihadists for a Muslim Enlightenment podcast together with Armin Navabi.
Rizvi was born in Lahore, Pakistan in 1975 into a “moderate to liberal Muslim family.” He spent his early childhood in Libya, later moving to Saudi Arabia where he attended the American International School in Riyadh, which he describes as a school exclusively for the children of ex-pat families living in Riyadh, limiting his exposure to Saudi culture and customs. Both his parents were educated in North America, and taught at a Saudi university. Rizvi’s family and other expats referred to a square in Riyadh where public beheadings took place as “Chop-chop Square”.
The family lived in Saudi Arabia for over ten years. As Ithna’Asheri Shia Muslims, they had to be careful when practicing their faith, disguising a religious service as “dinner” when watching a Shia mullah preach on television, ready to switch it off in case the religious police would raid the house. Rizvi and his parents had little understanding of the Quran nor the daily prayers, since these were in Arabic, a language they barely understood. Rizvi says that when he bought an English translation of the Quran one day and started reading it, he was shocked by statements about decapitating unbelievers in Islam (Quran 8:12-13), amputation of the hands of thieves (Quran 5:38) and violence against women (Quran 4:34), amongst other things. He confronted his parents with it; he claims they were equally dumbfounded. Rizvi then undertook a diligent study of the Quran and the Sunnah; this caused him first to question and eventually to lose his faith.