What It Is Like To Be A Closet Ex-Muslim Woman

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight, not a footprint to be seen.

If you have read my previous blogposts, you would know that I am still a closet Ex Muslim. I have been hiding in this closet for more than 15 months. I still have to carry on with the rituals (albeit all the faking). I still attend Islamic classes occasionally. I still wear the Hijab. I have to listen to the listless Islamic lectures that somehow find their way into my day. The MP3 blares religious lectures, they read from religious books, they quote religious scriptures, they hang religious sayings around the house.

I don’t belong here.

A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I’m the Queen

“Hijab. Quran. Manzil. Waqt-us-Salah. Hell hell hell. Day of Judgement. Women know your place. Haram Makruh haram. Barakahh ridha sunnah wajib. Allah muhammad allah muhammad.” After a while, it starts to sound like an annoying rap song.

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside

My family members are very particular about the way women are to be dressed because apparently, the amount family honour is directly proportionate to the area of fabric she dons. I have met many closet ex Muslims, but very few of them are still obligated to wear the hijab. Every morning, as I pin my hijab meticulously, I remind the girl in the mirror that she should not let her leash define her or constrain her. I tell her that one day, she will be able to

“Your breast curves are showing. Your top is too tight. Cover it properly or else you will stay at home today.” They order me. I shut the mirror door lackadaisically and I pull myself together. This is another day that has to be surmounted.

Couldn’t keep it in; Heaven knows I’ve tried

They can’t know. They can’t afford to know. I don’t know what they might do to me. I fear my parents might stop my education and enroll me in full time Madrasah, like what happened to my other friends whose apostasy were discovered in a series of unfortunate incidents. My education is my only way out. My education is empowering. My education is liberating. My education is my hope.

I shut out my mind when they start preaching. I carry on with the rituals as their wish. I lie. I cheat. I fake. I don’t question them anymore. I do as they say.

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be

I am losing my memory. I am losing my mind, yet I remain sane. Somehow. My dawns are plagued with anxiety and fear, and my dusks are afflicted with depression.

Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know

As things stand now, I build an ark to get away from this storm one day. I immerse myself with the delights of paintings and literature from distant lands, and my dreams of travelling to those distant lands. I want to be the lotus that survives and thrives in the dirt.

My tears have dried up. But I can’t afford to my spirits to shrivel as well.

Let it go.
Because there will be a tomorrow.

[Follow me on Twitter @ChistaPantea]

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  • Regardless of the religion one’s oppressors use to rationalize their oppression, they are still oppressive. Perhaps they delude themselves that they are following holy ordinances or some other nonsense. Whatever they tell u.themselves, their actions speak so loudly it is hard to hear their inner dialogue.

    You are being seriously mistreated and I feel for yo

  • Mariam

    Me as I am muslim , I believe that all instruction in My Religion has a great Purpose , and for woman in Islam , the Islam guarantees woman freedom to learn work to choose her husband and Also ALLAH ordered us to wear hijab not just like that , Off course NO but hijab is to save Us and our community , for example look to Unites States Reports about Rape cases and
    Adultery , you will find a hundreds or thousands per day . Unlike the Middle east .

    Last thing : The way of Muslims dealing and living nowadays has NO relation with the Islam , and beauty of Islam .

    Just read more about the Actions and crimes of the Church in the Middle Ages to know what I mean , I believe that the Christianity in it’s origin is a good religion and from the Terms of faith in Islam is to believe in jesus and all prophets , but I did not like their Violent behavior .

    • Mariam
      1. Women: All the rights you’re mentioning pre-date Islam and exist outside of Islam as well. Khadija, Muhammad’s first wife proposed to him 15 years prior to Islam existing, ran her own business etc.
      2. Bad period: I’d contend that all religions are actually products of the era they’re in and this particular behavior is more tied in with intolerance and refusing to accept that your way may be wrong. During the Abbasid era in which the Islamic world flourished dissent was tolerated, there were people like Al Razi that wrote a book called ‘Fraud of the Prophets’. Others like Al Maari and Rawandi wrote tomes criticizing Islam, Allah & Muhammad. They weren’t murdered… Can you see that happening today?
      3. Early Islamic History: Muhammad and his lieutenants all committed horrible atrocities so it’s not simply about what’s going on today.
      3a. Abu Bakr killed thousands of apostates in the Apostasy Wars
      3b. Muhammad conquered a Jewish tribe Banu Nadir killing the chieftain and his son-in-law. The captured women were then distributed among the men, imagine that in a modern context. The US for example distributing women from Afghanistan or Iraq.. Muhammad heard about the beauty of the daughter of the chieftain and married her , consummating (raping) her 24 hours after killing her dad n husband.
      3c. Muhammad himself has sex slaves, the most well known being Mariya the Copt. Modern Muslim writers lie that she was actually a wife, if you look up any early tafsir or Sirah (Ibn Ishaq for example) it is very clear that she isn’t a part of the wives list.
      3d. Umar was a misogynist and pushed the hijab for the wives of the prophets. Muhammad was initially against the idea
      Book 026, Number 5397:

      ‘A’isha reported that the wives of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) used to go out in the cover of night when they went to open fields (in the outskirts of Medina) for easing themselves. ‘Umar b Khattab used to say: Allah’s Messenger, ask your ladies to observe veil, but Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) did not do that. So there went out Sauda, daughter of Zarn’a, the wife of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him), during one of the nights when it was dark. She was a tall statured lady. ‘Umar called her saying: Sauda, we recognise you. (He did this with the hope that the verses pertaining to veil would be revealed.) ‘A’isha said: Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, then revealed the verses pertaining to veil.

    • Apostatelover

      Mariam, poor soul, reciting her brainwashed verses.

    • Apple

      You need to stop talking SHIT like that. I feel for her. I used to be forced wearing veil, something that I DON’T WANT TO.

      I am grateful I am an educated woman, I know how to speak up for myself. Because people like you keep talking bullshit like that, women like her (who probably doesn’t know how to speak up for themselves) have to pay the price!

  • Ozzie

    I’m in the same spot as you. I’ve spent more than a decade in the closet as an ex muslim. You’re not the only one suffering. I am too. I wish we could at least suffer together. If you want to talk please shoot me an email. The distance between in the closet ex theists might be far but if we engage in dialogue with each other it could help us feel close.

  • Abi

    Dear friend, remember your not alone, there are a lot of ex-muslim closets (I’m one of them :). I also still wear the hijab and follow the rituals. Oh, freedom is so precious but we are stuck! I try live each day as it comes and be a better human, I read a lot which helps me keeps my sanity. I also play sports, enroll in any new course I can do, volunteer, socialise with other people from different background, religious or non. As you mentioned, I can’t expose my self, the consequences are just too damaging for me and for the people around me. So I just try to better my self and be compassionate and helpful to other and hopefully build a better future for myself and those who are around me!

  • Ex Muslim Paki

    Stay strong brave girl

  • Mai

    I feel you, friend. As an ex-muslim Emirati/Khaleeji we really need to do something about it. I do believe that we are not the only ones. Recently, I decided to find a way to hint to my family that I’m an atheist and no longer care about the consequences of my atheism that will follow my decision to come out.

    I believe if none of us created and eased the path to the freedom of the rest of us, we will still be caged. I would much rather die than live the life our traditions have had planted for us to live.

    I found your blog today, I’m sure I’ll stick around to get to know you, people like us, we tend to feel lonely and I’m pleased to find courageous women like you.


  • KisahMelati

    Don’t lose hope.

  • Haj Lee

    Reading this really brought me back. I remember those days where I would
    pin that hijab so gracefully but I knew that’s not really who I was. My
    clothes were never loose enough or long enough. Everything was always
    haram and I was never good enough for them. I made a choice one day and I
    left. Mind you it has been 4 years now it was a journey but it was well
    worth my freedom and actually being happy. The real world is only as
    give up because the life ahead of you is so much better and you will
    never be happier!! How much longer do you have in school?

  • Tayyiba

    I’m reading this and i feel sad. Sad because you feel forced to be Muslim. I am a Muslim female and i have to say i have never felt trapped or forced. I practice my Deen and come and go as i please. i drive, i shopping. I wear hijjab not because anyone told me to, but because i want to. i will keep you in my prayers and i hope you find peace in this life and the next.

    • Alex

      That is very kind of you to say

    • Joseph Harrison

      Remember that we don’t believe in the next life.

  • This is beautiful. I just found this site, so I don’t know who you are or when you were writing this or how long ago you escaped or if you’ve even escaped yet. But hang in there. I believe in you.

  • Sharfin Alam

    I am muslim but i would like to point out few things . Muhammad(pbuh) said ..you have accepted islam but faith or iman has not entered in the heart ..what we see is true for 99 percent muslims. we pray 5times a day to become Ahmed( muhammad(pbuh) to become good person yet you wont find a single guy who is like Muhammad(pbuh). Even though the book has been sent as a mercy read by people without any shred of mecry in their heart..its like hey we have to do this..force women to wear hijabs etc. You are free to follow islam or leave islam as you please since its about faith..not about rituals..also Quran needs to be read n understand using hadith where most people do read it which is translation . Quran needs to be understood n taught by Alem Sheikh who should be able to solve your problem immediately if not then he is not the right guy to ask questions to solve your problems. I say its fundamental right for anyone who is being tortured mentally physically in islamic countries or family to leave islam as they please .Do not follow islam like an idiot..know the purpose then follow it..if you fail to understand then leave.its simple but man most country dont allow it ..they twist everything in Quran n punish people cripple them…they themselves dont have iman n they are preaching it. I feel sorry for people who are being abused .

  • Ana

    You have to fake in order to reach your independence, yes, but your mind is already free. Once I was a closeted Christian, it wasn’t until I was 30 years old that I finally came out, after more than a decade of faking.

    • Issam

      So are you a Christian or an ex-Christian?

  • Leanne Veitch

    When you find your freedom, you’ll find friends here, waiting for you. XXX

  • Ms ft

    Oh dear, it seems you are painting my life with your words. Good luck to you. I hope you keep safe and do very well in life.

  • Joseph Harrison

    Stories like this don’t make me sad. They make me angry. I live in the UK, I’ve never been religious, I’ve never known the misery. But every time I hear about oppression and intolerance, anywhere in the world, I hate religion just a little bit more.