Afie (former Muslim)
Testimony of Leaving Islam
I am Afreen, a 24 year old ex Muslim woman. I am working and earn a pretty good salary. I was born in a Bihari Muslim family but quit Islam when I was around 19-20. I want to narrate why.
My parents are both Sunni Muslims, but I think compared to the other Muslim families I know, my parents are pretty liberal, especially my father,who rarely ever prays. I have just one sibling, an older sister. In my childhood, a Muslim woman, a madrassa teacher, used to come to my house thrice a week to teach me and my sister about Islam, however, she was extremely boring, so I never paid much attention. In any case, I think that Islamic texts are pretty boring compared to Hindu myths, which I studied in textbooks!
My older sister who had always been an average student was married off when she was just 18, only two months after she completed school. None of her Hindu\Sikh\Christian classmates married so soon, even those who were below average students were encouraged by their parents to at least graduate from University and have some professional career. The three other Muslim girls in her class (one of the girls was the daughter of a family friend) also married soon after, none finished college.
I have read a news report that Muslim girls in India are almost three times less likely than Christian girls to be a graduate, and I think this type of attitude is the cause for that. My sister had a son soon after, followed by a daughter.
I have been a brilliant student all my life, and was very good in science, and thus managed to get admission into a top engineering college, but my parents were very hesitant to let me go there all alone, and worried that I would interact with "boys". I somehow managed to convince them, only after I had promised to pray five times daily, which I didn't do at home.
In college, I saw my friends lead very different lifestyles, they wore shorts and miniskirts, while I had been forbidden from wearing anything but salwaars since I hit puberty, they also dated, went out to nightclubs etc. When I tell my Muslim family and friends about my apostasy, they often assume that it was my desire to lead a frivolous lifestyle, drink or party but actually it was the opposite. I was hooked onto the internet while in college, first pro Islam sites which gave Islam a very positive spin, but I just couldn't accept some of the views posted on Islamic forums. Some people on the forums seemed to justify wife beating, as long as it was "mild" or marrying off under-age girls.
It was around this time that I stumbled upon Faith Freedom. Ali Sina's arguments were rude towards all Muslims but I found that much of what he said about Islam & Muslims couldn't be denied. I found myself mentally arguing with Sina, I checked out Answering Islam and Answering Christianity, and I would try to analyze both positions.
I found much that was completely unacceptable to me, I had looked upon Muhammad as a perfect man, an insaan i kamil earlier, I simply couldn't consider him perfect when he had sex with a nine year old, "married" women like Safiyyah right after brutally murdering her husband and family, and encouraged his men to rape war captives. I abhorred those Sahih hadiths hadiths wherein Muslims said that "celibacy" had become hard on them so they desired women and yet Muhammad did not forbid them from raping the wives of polytheists. I remember feeling furious when I heard about Muslim women raped in Gujarat during the Gujarat riots. My mom had told me then that this was "kufr" behavior, and here I was reading about Muhammad allowing that exact thing and even raping himself! I also couldn't accept wife beating, unequal divorce rights for women, and how the Qur'an addresses men much of the time. Allah also seems to take great interest in Muhammad's sex life, he allows Muhammad to marry his daughter in law Zainab to forbid adoption in the Qur'an, and allows Muhammad to marry any believing woman who offers herself to him, while prohibiting it for other Muslims. It seemed clear to me that Muhammad was using Allah to fulfil his sexual desires, there's a hadith where his child bride Aisha says the same thing, Aisha claims that "Your Lord hastens to satisfy your desires." Also, it made no sense to me why God would hate idolaters & polytheists so much, why He would allow war rape, not forbid his Prophet from practicing pedophilia but hate people adding partners to God. I live in a polytheistic land, and most of the polytheists & idolaters I know are good people. I can't accept my Christian friends going to Hell for believing in the Trinity or my Hindu friends burning in Hell for believing in gods of all shapes, sizes and forms. Also, I have some atheist\agnostic friends, who are quite sympathetic to Islam. In fact, while my Hindu friends were often openly critical of Islam after terror attacks by Muslims, my atheist friends often defended Islam, yet Allah also claims to send atheists to Hell forever. He claims in the Qur'an that whoever disbelieves in Hell will go there, I couldn't accept good people suffering eternally for disbelief. The Qur'an tells us not to make friends with "unbelievers", Christians, Jews etc., I had been told throughout my life that my closest friends should be Muslims, even till date, my parents blame my apostasy on my "friends", who they claim led me astray. Reformer Muslims claim that this command was given only for a period of war, yet such is the nature of Islam that there's perpetual conflict between Muslims and non Muslims, so such commands often apply to every period.
Also, I was horrified to learn about the Islamic slave trade of Africans, I had been brought up to believe that evils like the caste system was something only polytheistic Hindus did, that Islam was an extremely egalitarian faith and if the whole world converted to Islam, the problems of racism would vanish. There are some very racist hadiths in Tabari, which say that Arabs are the most noble people and Africans are Ham's descendent and are destined for slavery. Also in Ibn Ishaq's sira its written that Gabriel told Muhammad that a black man looks like Satan and his heart is more gross than a donkey's. To be fair, many Muslims don't consider Tabari authentic and the Qur'an isn't racist, but then my Hindu friends argue that the oldest Vedas aren't casteist either. But the caste system has existed in most of Hinduism's history, like racial discrimination has plagued Islam throughout its history. Muhammad should have outlawed the slave trade from Africa, and slavery in general, instead he freely bought and sold slaves, including black slaves. Muslim nations like KSA, Yemen, Oman etc. were the world's last to outlaw slavery, and so strong was the black-slave association that the Arabs have the same word for both blacks and slaves- abd.
In order to save my dwindling faith, I read articles by reformist Muslims like Khaled Abou el Fadl, or read testimonies of converts to Islam, but I kept feeling that the anti-Islam claims made more sense to me. I am not the type to tie myself into knots defending the indefensible and I realised that Islam contradicted many, if not most, of my core values. I also found the "culture v. religion" argument frequently used by Muslims, including my own parents, pretty bogus. Whenever Muslims did something wrong, my parents would parrot that line. While some unpleasant things were indeed "culture" something like wife beating wasn't "culture", it was sanctioned by Allah in the Qur'an. Marriage to extremely young girls wasn't culture, it was something Muhammad had done. Rape of kufr women captured in war wasn't culture either.
I became an agnostic but have recently converted to Buddhism. This was because I went to visit Bodhgaya, Nalanda etc. some months back with my colleagues, I saw the ruins of Nalanda. I learnt that this beautiful world famous ancient university was destroyed by Muslim invaders, who also destroyed other sites like Vikramshila, Odantapuri, Jagaddala etc., beheading thousands of monks, burnt the library for weeks. The Muslim invader Ikhtiyar Ud din asked if there was a Qur'an in the University before burning it to the ground. I had read in school textbooks about the Nalanda University, where Chinese scholars like Hiuen Tsang came to stay, but we weren't told in great detail about Islam's horrific role in the destruction of such places.
And this isn't "culture" either, this sort of behavior too was explicitly sanctioned by Muhammad, when he destroyed the 360 idols of the Meccan idolaters, warned them to remain inside or he would kill them. Muslims who destroy others, especially idolaters sites and kill them if they refuse to convert to Islam do exactly as Muhammad did.Other
Internet sites like History of jihad also gave me a fresh perspective about Islamic invasions of kufr lands, forcible conversions to Islam and harassment of non Muslims. While I felt that some of the information was rather biased, I just couldn't justify how the first four rightful Sahabas could invade non Muslim nations to spread Islam. When I asked my father, a pretty "liberal" Muslim about this, he said that given the "condition of the times", this was "acceptable", but this sort of explanation just didn't satisfy me. I used to consider myself Muslim when the USA invaded Afghanistan and although I was in my early teens then, I remember feeling angry with the USA and very upset when I saw images of the dead and mutilated. I remember really empathising with the plight of all those who lost their families, widows, orphans and amputees-the invasions of non Muslim lands like Iraq, Iran, Egypt etc by the "first four righteous Caliphs" also undoubtedly caused thousands of amputees, widows, orphans and bereaved parents. I am a pacifist, and I believe, no matter what the era or country, people will always try to defend their homelands if invaded, and they always have a right to object to anyone taking over their lands, yet Muhammad's Sahabas did the same thing. How could I respect the Sahabas anymore, if they forcibly invaded non Muslim lands, and killed people who were only trying to defend their homes from foreign invasions? Also, I abhor the very notion of collective punishment, I believe its never, ever justified, so I was naturally appalled about the mass murder of Banu Qurayza Jews.
I decided that converting to another religion would help me to distance myself from Islam completely. I didn't want to remain a "cultural" Muslim. I read up more in Buddhism and I liked much about it, there were stuff which I didn't agree with, but then the Buddha explicitly gave us the freedom to choose those of his teachings with which we agree, so I have religious permission to cherry pick. I didn't want to convert to any Abrahamic faith, also Christianity too preaches that non believers go to Hell, something I find repugnant. I found Hinduism quite sexist, as much if not more than Islam, it too has many of the atrocious social practices which repelled me in Islam. Buddhism doesn't teach like Islam, that I have to believe in that religion to go to Heaven, nor does it teach like Hinduism (and Confucianism) that one has to have a son who will perform the last rites and ancestor worship to go to Heaven. Probably the comparatively better position of women in Buddhism is why Sri Lanka is the only country in the Indian sub continent not to have a problem of "missing women" through selective, abortion, infanticide & neglect- a problem which exists in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh & Nepal. I think I am an agnostic, I simply can't believe in any God, and Buddhism is agnostic too.
Also, as a Bihari, I think that Buddhism might have been my ancestral faith, the word Bihar itself comes from the word Vihara, which means monastery. So I cam still stay close to my roots. I still lead a very conservative lifestyle, but this is by choice, not due to Islam, I don't party often, I don't wear very revealing clothes, I never smoke or drink.
This is my story in a nutshell. I think everyone should examine their faith to see if it agrees with their core values, if it doesn't, I don't think that it makes much sense to hold onto it. Of all the religions existing in the world today, I think Islam is the one with the worst qualities in terms of theology, practices and extremism. I absolutely don't support any attacks on innocent Muslims, but I think a debate on Islam is needed.
I don't want anyone to give dawah to me, and no death threats please, but if anyone is in a similar situation and need some advice, feel free to mail me at [email protected] Also, I am no hater of Muslims, my family and many of my closest friends are Muslims-who're as respectable and harmless as people of any other religion or no religion, so no mails from people who support any collective punishment or harm on innocent Muslims.