To understand~ Voices of ExMuslim Women ~ Solidarity on International Women’s Day
What do you wish women who have never been Muslim would understand about your experiences of being Exmuslim?
That they have it really easy – and to not take that for granted. If being Muslim felt isolated, being Ex-Muslim is even more isolating since we’re an even smaller group of people. We have unique challenges to deal with. I’m more confused than I’ve ever been about dating in a non-Muslim way (not that there’s really a Muslim way of dating). I have to try to be myself while dealing with parents who want to drag me away from who I’m becoming because they think that that’s a bad person. They would think that I’m sinful, that I’m a whore, and that I have no value anymore, now that I’m no longer a Muslim woman. How do you deal with that when you just want to be “normal” – I want the same things as everyone else. But I’m being told that the way I’m going about it is wrong. But I don’t believe that for one second, and I’m sticking to what I believe. The alternative doesn’t look any better, and I already tried it. I won’t be living a lie.
There are so many who say hijab is choice… In Medical school, as well as during internship and residency training back in Saudi Arabia, I was frequently kicked out of classes, lectures, clinical sessions because (I kid you not) a teeny weeny bit of my hair would be showing. The male Doctor/Professor lecturing us would be so distracted by the 2 cm uncovered part of my hair, in a room full of about twenty other female doctors, that he would stop the medical clinical session and demand that I leave. [Editor’s note: In fact, it’s not that uncommon for women to be refused service because they were not covered up enough, see this 2014 news story of a Saudi girl who died after male emergency workers denied her assistance, and this 2002 news story of a group of Saudi schoolgirls who died in a school fire.]
I have heard many non-Muslims call the hijab beautiful. When I first wore the hijab, many people were quick to tell me that I looked beautiful, as if to show me how open-minded they were. These are empty words. How does a woman become beautiful by covering herself?
Leaving Islam is a big deal. No, I didn’t kill anyone. What prompted my disownment was the fact that my parents are deluded and conservative Muslims. They are obsessed with concepts of honor, male privilege, “purity” of the woman (virginity, mostly), and their own pathetic images. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.
And no, my parents won’t “come around eventually.” It’s been ten years. I’m out of their will, out of their lives, and out of their minds. I don’t exist. A religion like Islam is powerful enough to make a mother forget the first daughter she ever gave birth to. Muhammad isn’t painted as a loving, forgiving hippy like Jesus is in Christianity. He’s a sexist, fascist, intolerant warmongering dictator. There’s no room in Islam to reinterpret for the sake of hanging on to your own children in cases where they don’t act in accordance with the Quran and Allah’s “will.”
Follow Maha on Twitter.
I want to live a life free of a society dictates my worth is only what I can offer to men. I want to be able to make my own choices and have my own opinions.
There are so many women struggling to make their own lives, when they’ve been told so many times that their life is not their own. I understand your guilt and your helplessness. This path that we share is incredibly overwhelming at times. Let’s come together and share our own voices to ease the pain.