Hamzah Ibn (former Muslim)
 Testimony of Leaving Islam
I was heavily involved in Islam in the 90s, for about 10 years or so. Certain aspects were beneficial such as friendships and brotherhood, though many other aspects bothered me intensely. I tried to ignore this feeling at the time though, and focus on doing the "right thing" according to Islam; following Shariah etc. I slowly realized that much of Islam was based on culture and politics, and had nothing to do with a Higher Being (God). Most of the motivations of Muslims around me were also purely for reward/punishment reasons, which was childish. I could hardly detect any motivation out of love or higher causes. People were mainly worried about getting brownie points for good deeds and prayers etc, and avoiding punishments for messing up laws and rules.
It became apparent that there were huge contradictions in Islam. there was to be "no compulsion in religion", and yet unbelievers were assigned to hell in the hereafter (even if they were saints), and/or mistreated and slain here. Polytheists were somehow translated into being always "evil doers", and sometimes Christians and Jews were holy and "people of the book" and other times evil and "not to be trusted". There was no central governing body or authority in Islam. Each sect or group (and there were hundreds), seemed to interpret the Quran and ahadith in its own way; some taking every word literally, and others picking and choosing, or following an Imam. Islamic sects were also fighting (and killing) each other globally - again, due to very small differences in beliefs. This destroyed any idea I previously had about a "united Islam" or "Muslim brotherhood" or "perfect Islamic nation".
Previously I had tried to emulate Muhammad. However when I later compared Muhammad's life to other spiritual masters and teachers, there was a stark contrast, and I couldn't defend it after a while. It was obvious that women, real-estate, war mongering and worldly pursuits had nothing to do with God or happiness. The idea of Islam being a "Religion of Peace" seemed an absolute joke. I also found some of the laws being pushed by Muhammad to be barbaric and loathsome, such as stoning adulterers, cutting hands from thieves, etc. Extreme tortures described in the Quran for "kaffirs" in hell were also quite horrible and didn't seem at all fitting for a "Most Compassionate, Most Merciful" God. It was no wonder Muslims I knew went around fearful of God and yet at the same time inflicting this same attitude on others. I lost all desire to try and emulate Mohammed's life, simply because it wasn't making me happy in any way, and made no sense in the 21st century. Muslim friends still believed that they were somehow blessed and holy by wearing Arabian robes and having a beard, because they looked like Muhammad - never mind about their internal state or actions- I found this ridiculous.
After realizing none of the thousands of laws and rules in Islam had done anything to increase my happiness or bring me closer to 'God', I searched for other answers. Sufism was a start, and seemed to hold much hope. Teachers were hard to find though, and Sufi's were mostly reviled or killed off in Islamic history anyhow. This started the ball rolling though, and I discovered other spiritual paths and teachers who helped me to attain higher levels of happiness and simplicity in life. Finally the time came to cut ties completely judge the tree of Islam by its fruits. The "golden time" of Islam would never come about, and it was obvious by the erroneous beliefs most Muslims had about "Allah" and life in general that they would not be achieving peace or happiness any time soon.
Once completely free of the obligation of Islam, I was free to re-discover simplicity in life, love and gratitude for just being myself, and peace in the freedom of not having to please any angry/demanding "God" etc. The whole idea of "God" took on a new meaning and reveals itself to me daily now.. not through books written 1000 years ago, or through ideas Ayatollahs, Muftis and Imams think we should believe or else.
I am happy to have trusted my inner feelings on this one, and not continued to blindly have faith in a system (Islam) that can't possibly work, and it isn't working to this day. To be fair, there are some wonderful Muslims around.. very kind, generous and open-minded. Though these people are often following their own hearts, rather than the laws laid down in the Quran or Shariah. A slave can't have two masters, and it is impossible to follow two contradictory directions and remain sane. We are all blessed with our OWN conscience, reasoning mind and inner feelings. I suggest we follow these so we are guided naturally to more and more happiness in life.
May all find peace here and now.