FreeThoughtOpinion

Walking by Moonlight: My Journey Out of Islam

Amira is a medical professional from Texas. As a bibliophile and science enthusiast, she’s passionate about the pursuit of knowledge. This is her first publication as an Ex-Muslim.

Greetings,

As an ex-Muslim, the first action I would like to extend is an offering of peace, or salaam. Apostasy from Islam is a thorny topic within Islamic theology and within Muslim communities. As such, I present my delicate passage from devout Muslim to firm atheist in all of its emotional, cathartic glory to shed light on the difficult spiritual transition apostates like myself, have made. This letter is an intimate account of that process; the slow shattering of my Muslim identity and the reinvention of my identity anew.

I liken my own spiritual transition to the phases of the moon; just as the lunar cycle reveals different faces of the moon at certain times of the month, leaving an observer with partial images that cumulate into a full moon, I have pieced together the multiple aspects of my own research and soul-searching to draw a full picture of Islam, faith, and what religion means to me. It is also no coincidence that I chose the moon for its symbolic relationship to Islam.

 

New Crescent: Putting the “I” in Islam

I was ashamed to harbor secret frustrations with Islam that I could not reconcile. In fact, I regularly dismissed them as part of my “test”.

As a born and raised Muslim in a moderately practicing household, Islam was my manual for life. When the terrorist attacks occurred on 9/11, I proudly integrated the hijab into my wardrobe to counter the rhetoric towards Muslims brought about by the terrorist attacks. There was even a brief period of time that I donned the niqab as an adamant Salafist (ultra-conservative Muslim).

As an adult, I was obsessed with my faith and enrolled in an intensive Alima program to fulfill my dreams of becoming a scholar of Islam. Whatever knowledge I gained, I shared it with my Muslim community by teaching a Quran and tajweed class, as well as leading a Ramadan program for women and leading an ahadith series focused on Nawawi’s 40 ahadith.

Islam was my existence and to be the best Muslim was my only goal in life.

Despite my devotion to lead a life that would please Allah so that he grants me Jannah (heaven), I was ashamed to harbor secret frustrations with Islam that I could not reconcile. In fact, I regularly dismissed them as part of my “test”. The Quran warns that we will be tested in faith through wealth, loss, health, etc. I was convinced my test was psychological because of my covertly shaky spirituality and nagging questions.

There were scientific concepts, moral views, and uncomfortable ethics within the faith that gnawed at my sanity. These thoughts made me wonder if I understood the faith as it is meant to be. Muslims are taught that if something about Islam does not make sense to an individual, the fault lies in that individual’s understanding, and not with Islam itself.

For several years, it was a vicious, exasperating cycle. I tried to silence the voice of reason in my mind, yet that voice only got louder.

Once it was clear to me that my beliefs were no longer on a solid footing, I began relearning Islam from scratch in a desperate effort to find the beauty masked by so much controversy. I began relearning Islam so that I could rebuild my faith on firmer foundation.

My efforts were exhaustive. They left me burned out as I tried to not let the actions of Muslims ruin the religion for me. Inevitably I took a break when my frustrations boiled over.

In early 2015, I decided to start from scratch yet again. This time, I took a different approach from the previous reboot focused on reason. This time around, my focus was on increasing the frequency, depth and devotion of my prayers. Increasing the number of voluntary fasts I would keep. I would wake up for tahajjud (the supererogatory early morning prayer) to beg for answers and peace of heart.

I read and discussed various materials by past and modern scholars to try to see where Islam came from and what it is today. I lived as piously as I could and spoke to Alims, sheikhs, imams, popular speakers, and many friends about things that disturbed me. When their answers did not address my questions, didn’t make sense, or were contradictory, I was told to let things go. I was told to stop over-analyzing, to leave it to Allah. I was even told that shaytaan (the devil) was hindering my understanding.

Throughout this time, I experienced a spectrum of emotions from frustration, to anger, to sadness, and to desperation. I tried to accept things that went against every fiber of my being and every neuron of logic in my brain. Most of all, I was deeply pained by the way Allah apparently set things up. Specifically, regarding women’s roles.

I felt hopeless in alleviating my psychological struggles with Islam. People with unwavering belief, who took things at face value, or didn’t question the many troublesome aspects of Islam thoroughly baffled me.

It was not that “we hear and we obey” was problematic. It was about making sense of the rules that govern our lives because they have real consequences. I wanted to be genuinely confident in my decisions beyond god telling me do something that does not make sense or would impact my life in a certain way.

In a last ditch effort, I decided to practice Islam in a way that I could tolerate, even if it was not “right”. However, those around me opposed even that effort. It was infuriating at the time. In retrospect, I’m glad they did not give me the freedom to practice Islam my way because it propelled me to confront my honest realizations and fears regarding this religion.

I explained my background to illustrate that I am not going through a phase, but am someone who has lived, struggled with, fought for, and dug deep into her beliefs with her entire being. I am a woman who was living to die for a god to guide me on the straight path. Despite being in heavy opposition to much of this faith, I was worried about the afterlife and my place in it. Eternity is a long time.

However, I am not someone who takes things blindly. If something is going to dictate every aspect of my life, then I demand indisputable perfection and sensibility in it. I don’t want to believe in Islam because I’m told to or was raised to, but because I have analyzed it and it passes every test. In fact, the Qur’an encourages us to critically analyze the religion. So I took my religion and my efforts to understand it very seriously.

Please remember that as you read the rest of this letter.

 

The Tip of the Iceberg

To quell my shaky faith, I often looked to the Qur’an for confirmation, but was repeatedly irritated by its contradictions and vagueness, not only in scripture, but also in its history (short link / long link). And the serious issue of abrogation, which is worrisome as a concept in a divine book as it is, but when I investigated the abrogation concept, it led me back to the frustrating contradictions I began my inquiry with.

I was also perplexed by the fact that the Quran adopted ancient legends and myths in its stories, including the biggest lie of all time.

The numerous scientific “miracles” in the Qur’an? These claims were either already known information at the time or flat out wrong.

No matter how one tries to justify or explain things, the Quran allows for domestic violence. The Qur’an allows for pedophilia. The Qur’an allows for a general injustice towards women. Worst of all, the Qur’an is extremely vulnerable to perversion because of how vague it is, among countless other issues with this book. And all this, for a book which is supposed to be perfect.

The deceptive commentaries and explanations scholars project onto the Qur’an were also troublesome and made me wonder why so much clarification was needed to understand a supposedly clear message, as Allah Himself states about the Quran.

I used to think that extremists that interpreted the Qur’an were ruining the religion and that their Islam was not the real Islam, until I realized that their Islam is just as valid as anyone else’s because the Qur’an’s vagueness justifies their actions. The way people manifest the teachings of Islam and the many versions it takes are all “real” Islam. Of course, these versions contradict one another when one version claims Islam is peaceful and another declares that Islam needs to take over the world. Nothing so holy and so divine should be vulnerable to such distortion.

Furthermore, Muslims are not the only ones who claim that their book is perfect and divinely inspired. We can compare what other religions say about their perfect books with the same passion and certainty as Muslims: No Man Could Have Written This.

Such writings made me question what makes the Qur’an any more special than that of other religions. As a Muslim I was very skeptical of other religious books and obviously did not believe them because Muslims are already indoctrinated to favor the supremacy claims of the Qur’an. Yet those other religions feel the same way about the Qur’an. Looking at things objectively, the Qur’an has as much value as it is given. Just like any other book.

When these fundamental issues with the Qur’an surfaced, I had to question its authenticity. How can it be preserved scripture if it was orally transmitted for 18 years after Muhammad’s death before being compiled into a book? That’s a long time.

What’s even worse is that the Sunnah and Ahadith are the second go-to Islamic sources to explain the Qur’an, yet they were written by men who lived at least 200 years after Muhammad’s death; many of them did not even live in Arabia. That’s a really, really long time after, and too far removed. They are neither second, third, or even fifth-hand accounts, nor are they from the land of the man that they wrote so extensively about. They simply lived too long after him and too far away from him. This leaves ample room for error, deceit, and corruption. Not to mention, these men also lived in extremely misogynic cultures. These views seeped into Islamic philosophy. For example, the concept of women being evil, disgusting creatures. Sadly, these same works are still referenced by Muslims today.

Piecing together these facts helped me realize that the revelations that shaped Islam as we know it are most likely fabricated by Muhammad and the compilation of the Qur’an was a convoluted process; written down by his followers long after his death. The Ahadith and Sunnah were written by other men, long after Muhammad’s death.

These are the worst conditions for preserving anything, much less the words of a god. Then there’s this interesting tidbit that drives the point home: Original Qur’an vs Modern Qur’an. The implications are disastrous.

Yet all of this pales in comparison to the Qur’an plagiarizing other works. Consider Imru’al-Qais’ poem and the Qur’an’s Chapter 54. The Qur’an – this supposed book of god’s literal words – has included lines of poetry from a poet that immediately predates Muhammad.

Furthermore, academic William St. Clair Tisdall wrote a thorough and well-cited book proving the Qur’an to be a compilation of pagan legends and mythologies, not divine revelations. As if the aforementioned issues with the Quran, ahadith, and sunnah were not devastating enough, this last fact struck the final blow for me.

I could never trust the Qur’an as a holy source again.

 

Full Moon: Truth is Illuminated

In light of this information, my entire belief in Islam began to deteriorate. I had anxiety attacks whenever I pondered the greater implications of what I was learning – that the Qur’an cannot be divine, truthful, or even original – and what that means about Muhammad and Islam.

I had anxiety attacks whenever I pondered the greater implications of what I was learning – that the Qur’an cannot be divine, truthful, or even original.

I began to reexamine my faith and went through a nauseating roller coaster of emotions in the process. Given the time, energy, and soul that I poured into living out this religion and calling others to it, I was deeply hurt and enraged in realizing the fact that Islam is not the truth. It is not even close to any idea of the truth. I felt manipulated and conned for having lived my life under this myth.

It was then that I began to see Islam objectively and not through the rose-colored lens that Muslims are trained to do. I gave the muffled rationality in my head a megaphone and let it rip.

Given that Muhammad was well versed in poetry and stories of the past and other religions of his day, it is completely plausible for an illiterate man to design his own book or even religion with enough effort and dedication. You do not have to know how to read or write to tell a story. Illiterate children can tell a story and an illiterate adult can tell an even better one. All one has to do is orate what they know or want to be known in a new way and have it written by someone else. In fact, being illiterate only credits him the excuse of not having to document anything himself.

With the Qur’an, ahadith, sunnah and the prophet as major disappointments, I was able to confront the questionable dichotomies of Islam without feeling like there was a problem in my understanding, as I have often been told.

For instance, I was simply shocked to learn that Islam did not abolish slavery. Besides the obvious problem with this fact, it is quite significant in the Islamic context because according to shari’ah law you are allowed to own another human being, but you are not allowed to eat a ham sandwich. These messed-up priorities boggle the mind.

Currently, half of the top ten countries that practice slavery or near-slavery are Muslim-majority countries. I would think that a religion that came for the betterment of humanity would put a complete end to such an establishment, and not be content to supposedly “phase it out”, as Muslim scholars boast. For something that is supposed to be phased out, it is still being practiced centuries later and the countries that have near-completely eliminated the practice altogether did so without any influence from Islam.

Beyond these questionable moral positions within Islam, there lie deeply superstitious beliefs.

For example, if you don’t wake up for fajr (the morning prayer), shaytan (the devil) urinates in your ear or nose (Bhukhari, Book 54, Hadith 492), but you can spit three times over your left shoulder to drive shaytan away from you in salah (prayer). How are prayer or spitting and shaytan’s bodily fluids related? Frankly, how does that even sound sane? Unfortunately, it is one of the many superstitions that play on one’s imagination as a Muslim.

You may be familiar with the Qur’anic description of shooting stars as devils being chased away from the heavenly assembly by angels or Muhammad’s ascension to heaven on a flying horse-like creature called the buraq.

Hearing these tales a child was the very first time I became suspicious of my beliefs. However, I clung to the popular apologetic explanations to these stories as an adult, although they required a great deal of mental gymnastics to even understand much less explain to someone else.

One evening, while watching the rebooted documentary series Cosmos, I learned that Halley’s Comet is seen from Earth every 75 years. The Islamic story of devils being chased away by angels when one sees a “falling star” like phenomenon immediately came to mind. I felt a pang in my stomach as I asked myself “Is a devil or jinn being chased every 75 years?”

At the time, I just defaulted to the usual “science will eventually confirm Islam” shtick, but it became impossible to continue lying to myself.

Now, I ask you, even if you ignore Halley’s Comet and only consider random meteors, doesn’t it sound like a primitive explanation of the natural world by attaching superstitions to natural phenomena? Even if it is meant metaphorically, why is it not stated metaphorically? It is stated as fact in the Qur’an and many ahadith.

None of my concerns were alleviated until I learned that the “shooting stars are devils” and “ascension to heaven on a horse-like creature” stories are rooted in pagan beliefs.

This is but a small sample of countless odd and superstitious attributes of Islam. They make much more sense when you trace them to their pagan roots because they are simply stories and not facts. We no longer need to mind-bendingly prove the “science confirming Qur’an” as Muslims try to do. As I used to do.

At this point, I had to stop making excuses and accept that Islam is no different than Christianity, Judaism, or any of the thousands of world religions, both living and extinct. They all claim to be right while everyone else is wrong. Yet none can claim indisputable perfection for all of mankind.

Muslims criticize the other Abrahamic faiths, but Islam has similar and sometimes more troubling issues to deal with. The Abrahamic faiths are the most confident while also the worst. And they provide the least evidence.

Out of the thousands of world religions that have been practiced and 2,870 known gods that have been worshiped throughout time, what are the chances that Islam is the ultimate truth? I asked myself what made me so confident that Allah is the real god and not Ra, Vishnu, Thor, or even Zeus, especially when the basis of my and other Muslim’s convictions are exactly the same as the followers of Ra, Vishnu, Thor, Zeus, and the other 2,865 gods’ followers. I had to be honest with myself and realistically crunch the numbers.

 

Cutting the Last Strings

After Islam completely failed me, I wondered why people believe in this religion, or any religion for that matter. Especially when religion is so inconsistent with reality and our common sense.

In psychology, this is called cognitive dissonance: the simultaneous belief in contradictory concepts. In our case, this dissonance manifests in how Islam (and other religions) use theology to explain reality versus how science explains reality.

Cognitive dissonance is just as applicable to Christianity and Judaism as it is to the non-Abrahamic faiths. The interesting thing about cognitive dissonance is that faith completely blinds you to it. So it’s hard for the person to see it, even when there is clear evidence against their beliefs in plain sight. Theists don’t see this because their default is that their faith overrides reality. There is no room for rationale, and criticism feels like an attack on the individual rather than the religious ideology; especially if it is part of their identity as is usually the case with Muslims. Adherents become defensive and block out or deny reason and logic.

The following short clips present an excellent service in explaining the contentions that I have just raised.

Lastly, I have two points I need to make:

  1. Islam’s attitude towards women
  2. The clearer, wider context from which Islam began

My first point: I would like to address Islam’s blatantly oppressive attitude towards women. This has been the crux of my issues with Islam from the very beginning and the catalyst for taking my religious studies seriously.

I want to address the Muslimah who questions why an ever-loving god would allow her husband to strike her; reward him with endless maidens in heaven without any mention of what women receive in Jannah (heaven).

I want to address the Muslimah who finds it unfair that god will cast the majority of women into hell, although he created them in the exact way that leads them there.

I want to address the Muslimah who is alarmed by a religion that permits marital rape; who questions why she cannot achieve Jannah without the pleasure of her husband.

I want to address the Muslimah who is disgusted that it is allowed for her husband to have sex with concubines despite having a wife.

I want to address the Muslimah who is resentful of her husband being allowed to have more wives.

I want to address the Muslimah who is repulsed by the thought of men marrying and raping children as permitted by the religion.

I want to address the Muslimah who is uncomfortable at having to pseudo-worship her husband by prostrating to him, if not to Allah.

I want to address the Muslimah who is pained by the practice of female genital mutilation.

I want to address the Muslimah who does not see the hijab as liberating, but another way of sexualizing women’s bodies and perpetuating victim-blaming culture.

Incidentally, the Muslims of Arabia adopted veiling from Byzantine and Persian empires to mark a man’s ownership of female bodies. Veiled women, especially niqabis, were “private property” and thus covered to prevent other men from viewing a man’s property and to hide his “assets” until the highest bidder bought his daughter’s virginity. Slaves were forbidden from covering because they were considered public property and subject to sexual abuse. Covering was never meant to dignify women; only subjugate them even more. Islam neatly hid these harsh facts by way of introducing the ideas of respect and ghirah (protective jealousy), yet it is simply patriarchy with new wrapping paper and a pretty bow.

I want to address the Muslimah who is insulted by having her testimony worth half of a man’s and taught that she is deficient in intellect.

I want to address the Muslimah who is tired of apologetics explaining that Islam has been hijacked by culture/misogynists/extremists when even ISIS is technically doing what the Qur’an actually allowed Muhammad and Muslims to do (enslave, beat, and rape “women captives of war,” among their other atrocities) and that these perversions are the justification for oppressing women worldwide and throughout history.

My dear sisters, do you honestly feel like “respected and cherished pearls” given these views Islam holds towards you? Men do not need religion to oppress women, but saying “god says so” makes it a lot easier for them to do so.

Notice how these controversial issues all favor man and neglect women at best, or abuse women at worst? No egalitarian and upright religion would allow such things. I personally refuse to accept these teachings or the notion that I am any less than a man or can justifiably be treated oppressively, even if “god says so.” That is not an impartial god, but a god of man’s desires and reflective of strong patriarchal mentalities. Using religion to control people, especially women, is an undeniable theme throughout history.

I am not cherry picking the worst aspects of Islam. I am highlighting the subtle realities under the “fair and honorable treatment” of women that Muslims try to proclaim Islam provides. It categorically does not. If your holy book says you can strike your wife in any way, even with a small stick, something is not right with that book.

We teach children to not to hit one another and keep their hands to themselves; why is the Quran telling adults in a marriage – something meant to be a source of love – that this is okay? Why have even the slightest permissibility for domestic violence targeting women, in a divine book?

Unfortunately, striking or beating are the lesser evils, as the Abrahamic faiths are notorious for being characteristically misogynistic and senselessly violent. Yet, the issue of striking your wife is not the real problem. The real problem is that Islam, and the other Abrahamic religions, demand the subservience and obedience of women.

It is a harsh truth that women delude themselves into accepting these roles as normal. They accept an ideology that gives men the right to violate their basic moral decency as human beings and as women, in the name of an all-loving god. And yet, it is the same god that sanctions their abuse.

It is like saying if you love your rapist, the rape will not seem so bad and your love for him will give your life meaning. It is complete lunacy. The real clincher for me in this particular verse about striking your wife is the context in which it was revealed. A famous Islamic scholar and popular speaker explained that a woman, beaten black and blue, complained to Muhammad that her husband abuses her and Muhammad told her to hit him back. On her way to retaliate against her husband, Muhammad chased her down to recant his statement saying that although he would have wanted her to get revenge, Allah commanded otherwise.

The idea that Muhammed, a creation of Allah who is also called Ar-Rahman (The Most Merciful) was more merciful than Allah left me speechless. So Allah, the supposedly Most Merciful and All-Just, permits the wife to be beat, but does not permit the wife to retaliate or the husband to be punished. It leaves the woman, and consequently other women, to simply endure the abuse. Where is the justice?

For me, this only further confirmed – and I say further confirmed because there was a real issue with which revelations were worthy of being put into the Qur’ran – that Muhammad was strategically receiving verses that tied into whatever agenda he had. From a critical perspective, it is reasonable to suspect that if Islam allowed women to fight back, Muhammad would lose the male followers he needed to support his prophethood because Arab culture and society were run by men and for him to be left with only a female following (the oppressed class) would be useless to his goals.

Aisha said it best when she relayed that she had seen no women suffer as much as the believing women.

Let me assure you that these thoughts are not the whisperings of the devil; they are the voice of reason. These thoughts are the rational part of our brain calling bluff when it recognizes something incongruent.

These are the sensible parts of our intellect that challenge the emotional, psychological, and even physical assaults on our being, particularly in our case as women.

My second point: We have to step back to look at the big picture. The current narrative of Islam and its history is incomplete without taking into account the historical, political, scientific, geographical, anthropological, psychological, and sociological facts that reveal the truth about its origins.

We should examine all belief systems through this holistic view. Religions are as old as civilizations and naturally contain various elements of those civilizations from the way individuals thought to the politics of the time. Moreover, beliefs in the supernatural and superstitions are even older, dating back to the late Paleolithic era before any formal religion was established. Religious people take this fact and claim that we are built for faith and have an innate inclination to believe in a god, but that is a perpetuated myth as atheism has existed for just as long.

The fact that you have to teach a child about god debunks the “innate belief” lie. As for Islam, its entire premise is unoriginal as it is a copy/paste of older faiths and myths, which themselves are collections of superstitions, stories, and legends, plus whatever geopolitical agendas were at play at the time.

To anyone, like me, who is told to stop overthinking, leave it to scholars, or that god knows best because we are flawed humans who can not grasp the eternal wisdom of god, I ask you:

  • If our obedience and worship to this god is so crucial to our afterlife, why not send guidance that accounts for the complexities in human nature and counters evil tendencies, rather than leave his guidance vulnerable to such disparaging perversions?
  • Is an all-able god incapable of sending guidance that makes total and undisputed sense, despite human complexities and differences? If he did and we refused to believe, then that’s one thing. However, if you refuse because the religion does not make sense based on the intellect and abilities the same god gave you, then you are damned forever. How merciful is that?
  • Why do the Abrahamic faiths come from one miniscule portion of the entire globe and not take into account the other regions, countries, and cultures everywhere else? Think about that. The Qur’an makes you think only Arabia and surrounding places existed at the time, but there were entire thriving and robust civilizations in the Americas, Asia, Australia, Europe, and Africa beyond Ethiopia. Those three faiths come from a place that is a small percentage of the entire earth, yet they are supposed to account for the entire globe? Why were all three “actual true religion(s)” sent to specifically those people and not the Aborigines, Native Americans, or neighboring Africans?

The list could go on, but you get the point. I have been told that these are unanswerable questions and not worth wasting time thinking about. To that I say: If there is a god and he/she/it truly loved and wanted to guide us, even for his/her/it’s selfish demands for worship, then he/she/it is supposed to be able to send a religion that doesn’t leave room for such serious questions.

I pondered over these and other problems for years and prayed for peace whether I would ever find the answers or not. However, in putting together all of my efforts and research, I have come to the very clear conclusion that religion and god are human constructs to try and make sense of the world; to manipulate and to control people.

The best analogy I’ve found regarding this is in holding a glass of clear liquid. It may look like water, but you cannot verify it is actually water (it could be vinegar or acid etc.) until you test it in various ways. You could taste it, smell it, put it through a chemical test, or confirm its boiling point, among other methods.

If you get the same answer after testing it several ways, then you can confidently say that it is water. The same reasoning applies with religion. You have to test it in many ways to come to an honest conclusion. Islam, and any religion for that matter, simply does not pass the test. It completely fails.

 

Old Crescent: Taking Out the “I” in Islam

My new grasp of Islam was very hard to accept because it was utterly shattering to admit that the core of my identity had been wrong. That the religion that I had been brought up to believe in and everything I was told was true was in fact, false.

Yet it was simultaneously relieving to not have to try to understand reality through an Islamic lens or worry about psychological/spiritual tests. I am still navigating the aftershocks of this huge detachment and deprogramming my brain from everything I ever thought I knew. The fact that you have to be indoctrinated into Islam or any religion is woefully telling of its “naturalness.” Indoctrination is defined as being lead or forced to believe things uncritically—in effect, brainwashing. To me, it’s obvious that religion crumbles when thoroughly challenged and falls on the crutch of blind faith because it can not justify itself, much less save our souls.

But I understand that it’s very comforting to think there is a “higher” being that is taking care of things. One that will rectify all the wrongs of this life; that will reward you for your efforts and worship, one that will love and take care of you; someone that you can rely on when all else fails.

However, these are intangible beliefs, not to mention very conditional. Is this deity truly a loving god if  you have to believe and worship in him/her/it for any of that happy reconciliation in the afterlife to apply to you?

Now that I’ve accepted my truth, I cannot continue living a lie.

For anyone interested, here are two comprehensive sites that answered all of my issues with Islam and reaffirmed that I was not alone. Ex-Muslims who saw through the fog of deception, did their research, and used the Qur’an and authentic ahadith to prove the falsehood of Islam. They run these sites:

Here are websites/blogs of some Ex-Muslims. You can find links to their YouTube channels on their respective sites:

Here are prominent YouTube channels that critically question Islam:

These are support groups (respective blogs/channels on their sites) that you can visit to be part of a community of like-minded people who left Islam and religion in general:

 

New Moon: Rebirth

By “coming out”, I risk losing a lot. Family, friends, community, culture, the life I’ve built, and my entire self as I know it.

“I have nothing to die for I have absolutely everything to live for”

This is why I have avoided this big step for so long. But now, after having endured that initial period of grief, I feel an immense relief in finally making sense of everything that had tormented me for years.

Right now, I’m still going through the grieving process as my family and friends slowly find out. Even in this short time, I realized that when you challenge doctrine and find your truth, you begin leading a more honest and emboldened life.

For me, it meant making choices and confronting things in my life that I would not have before. Leaving Islam has given me mental clarity and changed my outlook for the better. I genuinely cherish every minute I’m alive without the crutch of an afterlife.

I see reality around me with curious new eyes and find excitement in discovering how things work or why they are the way they are, rather than defaulting to “because Allah made it that way”.

I put more effort into my relationships because we all need each other.

I see things more rationally because I’m not clouded by superstitions.

I am much more genuine in my goodness because I value human life and treat others the way I want to be treated without the promise of a reward or threat of a punishment.

My life is cleaner without dogmatism and convoluted philosophy.

My brain is healthier exercising its moral compass without being told what is a sin and what is not. I learned that you do not need religion to have morals, only common sense and empathy.

Most of all, as a famous atheist acutely put it:

“I have nothing to die for I have absolutely everything to live for”

And so I too, refuse to waste anymore of the one life that I do know I have.

 

Sincerely,

Amira

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