Abdel Masih (former Muslim)
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My Testimony of Leaving Islam
I was born in Egypt to a Muslim family. We came to the United States when I was still mostly a boy so my father could open a business here. My family was and is a very loving one. I think in looking back, that maybe my family was loving because it was liberal in approach to Islam. It was loving not because of Islam but in spite of it. As I grew up we would meet many angry Muslims on occasion. Here at the masjid or there at this or that social function. They were always rare but they did exist. Whenever we would meet them or even hear about Muslim terrorists in the media my father would repeat his mantra about how that has nothing to do with true Islam. I believed my father and so I believed that there was a true Islam which was about love and tolerance.
As I grew up and went to high school, I started going to the masjid more often - usually once a week or more. I started to notice a trend. Even those who would give the khotba at the masjid seemed to be absorbed with this 'false Islam' that my father gently railed against on many an occasion. I started to become bothered by all the hatred and 'false Islam' being spewed at every khotba on what seemed like every jumah. So one time at the masjid, I decided to inform one angry brother who gave a very hateful speech about true Islam. His khotba praised a man who would wage jihad and be a shahid but didn't pray over a man who prayed but would not be a shahid. This seemed so backwards to me.
But when I talked to him he became very angry. I found that I was not well versed enough in Islam to defeat him in a debate. Even though he was winning the debate on what is 'true Islam' he still got more angry and began to physically intimidate me and threaten me. Think about how amazing this is! The khateb who spoke that jumah is railing in favor of violence and is then threatening other brothers who disagree - and he is doing the threatening inside the masjid!
The experience shook me very badly and the man was bigger and stronger than me so I could not win a physical fight with him; plus I abhor violence anyway. I decided I would best him and men like him with my mind - with a superior knowledge of Islam. I was going to immerse myself in study and learn about 'true Islam'. But when I began to study I saw that the Quran was filled with hate and not enough on love. Then I tried to get better understanding from ahadith but they were even worse! The ahadith made the Quran seem light on hate.
I was becoming very disillusioned with Islam. At the same time, I decided to start exploring other faiths. I fell in love with Buddhism and Christianity. It seemed so common to go to the masjid in any town USA and the khateb would rail against Christians, Jews, America, and even other Muslims. There was all kinds of hate and looking forward to some hoped-for-future in which violence would unseat anyone and everyone they disliked. Then I visit Buddhist temples and Christian churches and it is all about love and the speaker is very polite. Maybe this is not a good argument but it seemed to me like Christianity and Buddhism was more true than Islam. You will know them by their actions. The religion of Islam made many otherwise sane Muslims the way they are.
So I started thinking about becoming Buddhist or Christian. Maybe Islam is still in my blood because I have to believe in the prophets and God and I don't like idols too much. In Buddhism we were either praying to idols as gods or believing there is no God. Christianity seemed so much more familiar and the sermon on the mount is a teaching after my own heart. There is nothing like it in the Islamic literature. This is also why Muslims resisting oppression all over the world can only resort to horrible violence. They do not have any traditions that will provide a model for non-violent resistance. This is why I think there will never be a Muslim version of Martin Luther King. If there is, it will be in spite of Islam not because of it.