Anis (Former Muslim)
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Testimony of Leaving Islam
Special thanks to Sanitarium - one of the editors here - the first person to engage in a debate with me that led me to open my eyes and so start questioning Islam more. I can’t thank you enough!
Although even the mere thought of writing this testimony is making me nervous, I feel that doing so is very important to me. At least I am posting anonymously - the religious relatives in my family love me as much as I love them, but if they find out that this is my testimony, they will be outraged and very disappointed in me, especially because I’m only 17 at this time. With all of that said, here is my testimony.
My early life was not very religious; despite strong conservative values (we didn’t like gay people and viewed feminism with much contempt), our family’s faith in Islam was unstable. My mother wasn’t nearly as religious as my father, and after they got a divorce, she renounced her faith in Islam altogether. My father, by contrast, is still religious - although he isn’t zealous in any sense, he is unapologetic about his faith and holds some strong conservative values, unlike my mother.
A few years after the divorce, my father asked me to move with him, my step-mother, and my younger sisters, because he could tell that my mother wasn’t concerned with my education or my faith in Islam. He wanted me to live in a more Islamic environment, an environment in which everyone prays and fasts regularly, faithfully adheres to Islamic gender norms, and strives for paradise. His concern for my general education was another reason, for he promised to help me succeed academically, unlike my mother, who has always loved me as much as my father has, but never really paid attention to my education. Somewhat reluctantly, I agreed to move, partially excited about starting a new life, and partially worried about the exact same thing.
As I lived there, I learned a lot about Islam - everything from the Day of Judgment to basic instructions for prayer and fasting. Amazed by what I thought was a wonderful, peaceful, benevolent true religion, I soon became very enthusiastic about Islam, the fear of being seen as an intolerant bigot because of my religion notwithstanding. Indeed, that’s what worried me a lot - hearing all of the criticism of Islam and Muslims led me to believe that anti-Islamic non-Muslims wanted to hurt me and my fellow Muslims somehow. Upon being convinced of that, I began to defend my religion passionately, especially on the internet. I showed people countless apologetic arguments in response to claims like “Islam is against women” and “Islam allows child sex.” I felt great, especially when I topped off all of my argumentation with a frequent dosage of learning about the “miracles” of my religion.
Despite my passion for defending Islam, however, I always felt uneasy when I argued. My uneasiness grew as I heard more conservative Muslims tell me that things like drawing living things and music are prohibited in Islam, that I shouldn’t associate with non-Muslims “unnecessarily”, that Islam allows wife-beating and male-dominated relationships, that Islam prohibits free mixing of the sexes to an extreme degree, and that Islam allows having sex with children. I used to dismiss these people as “crazy” or “misguided”, but as I argued with more learned people and heard the opinions of highly esteemed scholars, I began to question my religion more and more. In particular, I kept thinking about the aforementioned things:
1. Music is prohibited? Why? Something as wonderful as music shouldn’t be banned. As Nietzsche once said, “Without music life would be a mistake.” How in the world can it “corrupt my soul” or make me less religious? It’s just for my enjoyment, and it can’t possibly hurt anyone by itself. And did Muhammad really think that I would start worshipping a mere stick figure just because it represented a human being? I’m sorry, but I don’t feel compelled to worship my younger sister’s picture of a cat just because it’s an image of a living being. How absurd
2. No, I don’t believe that I should estrange myself from the non-Muslims I love and respect just because of their different beliefs. To “protect” me from being influenced by my “sinful” mother (I feel horrible whenever he bashes her, even though she has done some bad things in the past that led to the divorce), my father advises me not to stay in her house, because if I get used to seeing her with my step-father, I’ll become a fornicator just like them and have an “illegitimate” child with some girl. (He doesn’t think they’re married, even though they have a secular marriage.) I love my mother too much to treat her like that. Just because she’s not a Muslim anymore, doesn’t mean she’s “impure” or “sinful.”
Likewise, I am friends with some nice non-Muslims, and there’s one person in particular I appreciate greatly. I used to be enemies with him because he argued with me about pleasure in heaven and Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha. But over time, I got along with him, and eventually even became one of my favorite people. How could I just tell him that I don’t like him just because he doesn’t believe in any god? People tell me that religion is the sole source of morality, but even though he hates religion, he’s certainly a nice person. I refuse to disassociate myself from or discriminate against my loved ones just because they’re not Muslims. Anyone who doesn’t hurt me or other people and generally is a kind and sincere person is my friend, as far as I’m concerned. I can’t bear to imagine my best friends being thrown into hell just because of their disbelief. It’s funny how even an imperfect being like me is much nicer than the so-called merciful Allah. At least I don’t want to inflict eternal suffering on fellow human beings just because they didn’t listen to me.
3. What did women do to deserve such poor treatment in Islam? Granted, they can own property and refuse to marry, but that doesn’t mean anything in light of the fact that they are basically the property of their husbands. Muhammad was far from a champion of women’s rights as Muslims insist he was. I laugh at anyone who tells me that women are honored in Islam in light of the fact that Islam allows men to rape and enslave prisoners of war and non-Muslim women, the fact that Muhammad married other women without the consent of his other wives, the fact that he explicitly favored some of his wives over others (and making them feel terrible in the process), and the fact that Muhammad said that even if a wife chopped off her breasts and cooked them for her husband, she would not have fulfilled all of her marital duties. How disgusting.
He also explicitly despised women; he called them deficient in intelligence and piety and therefore the majority of inhabitants of hell. What kind of self-respecting woman would agree with this nonsense? And then there’s that infamous wife-beating verse, Qur’an 4:34. Every time I used to tell non-Muslims (and even Muslims) that only “light” beatings are allowed, hitting her face is prohibited, it should only be done as a last resort, etc. I literally felt sick to my stomach. That was because I never have believed (and never will believe) that I have a right to beat up the one I love for any reason. My step-mother, a Muslim who certainly cares about being pious, has told me that every time she reaches 4:34 as she recites the Qur’an, she tries to pretend that it doesn’t exist. She even told me that whenever she goes over the verse, she asks herself, “Why, why is this in the book of Allah?” I can only imagine how other Muslims wives feel when they stumble upon a verse in a holy book that tells them that men are above them in status and have the right to hit them if their wives disobey. What a horrifying verse.
4. Islam is decidedly a religion of not only misogyny, but also gynophobia and spontaneous sex phobia. Women are told that they were the first fitnah for the Jews and that they are always a source of temptation for all men. Moreover, there is ample evidence that in Islam, the sexes should almost always be segregated, because of the fear of fornication. Men are said to be sex beasts, and women are, again, said to be a huge source of temptation for men, regardless of the piety and wisdom of men. Look, I’m a 17-year-old male, and just like countless teenagers and adults, I often get sexual thoughts. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to perform a sex act with a woman I meet on the street. Nor do I ever dream of having sex with my female relatives - they are like sisters to me, not potential mates, for crying out loud! And do Muslims really think that if I befriend a girl, I don’t care about friendship, but rather the possibility of having sex with her? First of all, just to get this out of the way, premarital sex is totally benign. Second, let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that it really isn’t benign. Even so, despite the fact that I’m a teenager, I can easily form a meaningful friendship with a girl that isn’t sexual, even if she’s attractive in my eyes. I don’t view and I never will view every single woman on the planet as a potential girlfriend or sex partner. And to hear someone say that I care about my female friends just because I want to have sex with them is absolutely insulting. I may hug and shake hands with my female friends for various reasons, but that doesn’t mean that I want to sleep with them some day. I give women as much eye-contact as I give men, but that doesn’t mean that I’m trying to seduce them. Islam not only insults women, but also insults men (to a lesser degree, definitely, but it still matters to me).
Lastly, I should also note how ridiculous sex segregation is when it’s actually being done (which isn’t to say that it’s reasonable in theory). The Muslim women in the other side of the masjid seem totally othered. When I used to help with serving food during iftars in Ramadan, I just walked into the women’s room, lay the dishes on the floor where they were sitting, and run back to the men’s area. How absurd. Why couldn’t we let them sit with us? Women are people, too; I’m sure if they had their way, they would sit with the men as well. Why? Not because they want to have spontaneous sex with some Muslim men, but merely because they want to sit wherever they feel like. Oh, and one time, during the Ramadan night prayers, a woman quickly rushed into the men’s prayer hall to encourage more people to donate; she said that she had just donated $1000 to masjid funding, and she wanted others to contribute a similar amount for the sake of the masjid. That was nice of her, right? Not in the eyes of the conservative folk; they were outraged to see that a woman had the audacity to walk up to the minbar in the male section and give her fellow Muslims a short message. There are more examples of the absurdity of sex segregation, but I think these two are enough to show you how absurd a religion Islam is.
5. Muhammad married Aisha when she was 6, and had sex with her when she was 9. Sex with a child. This is a religion of peace? Forget about whether Islam condones violence against non-Muslims; even if Islam opposed all offensive warfare, it still would not be a peaceful religion simply because it allows its followers to rape children in the name of “marriage”. That’s absolutely vile. And even the Qur’an, in 65:4, condones child marriage implicitly. Several esteemed scholars have confirmed this. One of my uncles has no problem with child marriage. When I found out, I was so disconcerted that I pretended to argue that Islam doesn’t allow child sex, even though I know that claim is wrong. It’s better for him to hold a belief that isn’t Islamic than to be “pious” by believing in something that is at once Islamic and morally reprehensible in my eyes. Anyway, when I told him why child sex is necessarily abusive, he told me that I don’t have “all of the facts” on my side and that science has proven me wrong. First of all, he’s ignoring the wealth of evidence that suggests that child sex is severely harmful. Second, he’s ignoring the suffering of victims of child sexual abuse. It makes me feel sick to imagine someone trying to justify sexual acts with children. Muhammad was never a role model. Rather, he is an example of humanity at its worst.
After dwelling on the above matters constantly and additionally learning more about the cruel and intolerant nature of Islam, I drifted away from the religion slowly but surely. The thing that made me leave Islam for good was realizing that the justifications for believing in it are fallacious. All right, there are some reported miracles that prove that the religion is true, but to conclude that they are proof of the truth of Islam necessarily involves either an appeal to absurdity or circular reasoning. Moreover, if Allah is so powerful that he has rendered all epistemic criteria contingent (he can do anything, after all), then that means that no standard of knowing is absolute, so even choosing to believe in Islam is doomed to incoherence. And then there’s the problem with the authenticity of the Qur’an and ahadith in the first place. All of this was the straw that broke the camel’s back; never again will I return to religion, because similar arguments apply to other religions.
I am now a proud kafir. I vehemently oppose Islam and any religion like it. But I have nothing against the Muslims I know. Many of them are good people, and want to be good. And that’s why many liberal, Westernized Muslims defend their religion so fiercely. They just don’t want to follow a bad religion. They’re terribly misguided, but their intentions are important to remember. Personally, I judged Islam by moral standards that had nothing to do with Islam. If I really cared about accepting Allah’s rules the right way, I would be a blind follower. But I followed my conscience, not Allah’s arbitrary and cruel demands for humanity. I don’t care about attaining salvation. Even if Islam were true (and it isn’t), I wouldn’t care. Allah can throw me head first in hell for all I care. If it means caring for others for their own sake rather than for the sake of avoiding punishment, I’ll gladly go to hell. I couldn’t care less if Allah condemned me to hell just because I had the audacity to have a good friendship with a girl. Fortunately, I won’t go to hell, because Islam is decidedly false.
That concludes my testimony. Having finished it, I feel a profound sense of peace. Thank you for reading. It means a lot to me.