Iamfound (former Muslim)
Testimony of Leaving Islam
I've been an active member of FFI for quite some time now, but never posted my full story. This is long, cause the journey to where I am today has been a long and difficult one.
I was born in Qatar, a small country erecting from Saudi Arabia into the Persian Gulf, where I would stay until 1994. At the age of 4, my family moved to Canada, where we have lived ever since. My parents did not let the Western values get in the way of our Islamic ones. I've always been one to ask questions, and voice my opinions, no matter the consequences. My parents instilled the Islamic values in me from day one, using only fear to get me to adhere. I started fasting Ramadan in 2nd grade, my only motivation being the pile of presents I would get in the end. My family was extremely poor for a very long time, my dad was an English teacher overseas, but his education and experienced were not recognized in Canada. Despite our dire financial problems, my parents always found a way to get me the toys that I wanted, even if it meant setting a bill aside, unpaid. Although you will later see the torment that my parents have put me through, I am eternally grateful that they provided me with a normal childhood, despite our poverty. They never let any of us know how poor we really were, until we were old enough to see it for ourselves.
I started wearing the hijab when I was 11 years old, but I took it off 3 months later. I was the only Muslim in the school when the 9/11 attacks occurred, and I lost a lot of friends. I felt that taking off the hijab would help get them back, but was later proven wrong. I started wearing the hijab again 8 months later, this time I would keep it on for 6 years. I wanted the attention, I wanted the praises from my parents. I was a naive 12-year-old, barely on the brink of maturity, still unsure what I wanted in life. But I knew I wanted my parents' attention, even if it meant wearing a scarf I hated.
I started truly asking questions when I was 14. Questions like: Why can't I date? Why is alcohol forbidden? Why is pork forbidden? Why can't I go out like my friends do? What's the point of wearing the hijab? Why this, Why that. My parents were always extremely religious, so I asked them. My questions were always shot down with accusations that I was doing something wrong behind their backs, so I eventually stopped asking them. My inability to read Arabic stopped me from ever reading the Quran and learning how to pray. I never prayed a day in my life, and always felt guilty for that. I loved the religion that my parents always told me about, I loved this magnificent Prophet that I learned about in Saturday Arabic School. I remember begging and pleading to my parents to teach me how to pray, but they never had time for me.
Fast forward to 2006: My family is no longer poor. My father found a job in Northern Canada, and my family is now more than financially stable. At this time, I was a member of the Air Cadets, and I belonged to a forum where Cadets from all over Canada chatted. The day I joined this forum, there was a thread in the International Issues forum about the infamous Danish cartoons. I immediately voiced my opinion, declaring that the Prophet was a peaceful man, and that Muslims had every right to be angry. I found myself in a heated debate with an atheist member of the forum, exchanging Quran verses and arguing about the true values that Islam (supposedly) has. I argued exactly how the likes of Ahmed Bahgat argue here: As soon as I was proven wrong, I preached Islam... I never even thought twice about the possibility of Islam being wrong. It wasn't even in the question.
These are some of my quotes from that debate:
- In our Qur'an (the holy book of Islam) it states that we can't even try to think of what our Prophet may have looked like, let alone try and DRAW him. That is why Muslims are so angry about this. It is offending our own values and beliefs.
- Our Prophet was portrayed a terrorist, a violent man, the complete opposite of who he really is. It's hard to pinpoint just one thing that ticked us off so much. The intent was also offensive, but the cartoons themselves were the real issue.
Although I posted that nonsense, I also criticized the Muslims for reacting violently. I still got my head chewed up and spit out by the atheists, but I didn't let it bother me. I was right, they were wrong; I thought I'd be laughing at them while they burned in the pits of hell. A few months after this debate ended, I went back and read it again. I decided to look up the verses that the atheists were quoting from the Quran. I was shocked to see that they were right. These verses were true. They were not taken out of context like I assumed they were, they were not twisted around. They were there, in black and white. I quickly shoved these thoughts to the back of my head and continued living a Muslim life.
Fast forward, Summer 2007: I remember the first time I went out without my hijab. At this point, I had read the Quran in full, read the hadiths, read answers that Muslim scholars offered to doubters. I was not convinced. I decided to test the murky waters. I took it off for a day, and went to a restaurant with my friend Anne. We both ordered alcoholic drinks (we didn't get ID'd). I remember taking that first sip and thinking "What the heck is the big deal?" I realized that alcohol isn't the deadly poison that Muslims make it out to be. As long as I'm not falling over drunk with half my clothes hanging off in the middle of a public street, it really isn't that bad. At the end of the day, it is just a beverage. At the time, I was working full-time at a Science Museum over the summer.
A week after the day at the restaurant, I started going to work without my hijab. People were shocked, but again, I loved the attention. I felt so liberated... My parents never knew about this. I had to take 2 buses to get home from work. After I got off the first one, I'd run to an empty corner somewhere and put on the hijab, then jump on the second bus home. It was a double life, to say the least. When school started, I started wearing the hijab again. I was terrified of getting caught by someone in my family. By the time winter came around, I was pretty much convinced that Islam was wrong. I had read the Quran, asked questions, read books, watched interviews, and I just was not convinced. I had a Muslim friend at the time who I would always end up arguing with about the religion. She stopped speaking to me after a while. I was experimenting with marijuana by this point, but I quickly stopped doing that for my own well being.
A few months after this revelation, I was so overwhelmed by the double life I was leading--being the good Muslim girl for my parents, while living the life I wanted behind their backs. I felt guilty, so in an attempt to fool myself, I started reading Pro-Islam websites. I quickly started believing again, being overwhelmed with guilt for ever daring to stray away from the light that was Islam. Thankfully, this only lasted a couple of months. I was still wearing the hijab at this point. Over the summer, I went out more often without it. I went to a club for the first time, and finally felt what it was like to break free from the shelter that my parents built around me. I haven't been to one since--the clubbing scene just isn't for me.
In the middle of the summer, I found FFI and found the answers to all my remaining questions. At the end of the summer, right before I started university, I decided to stop wearing the hijab, without having to tell my parents. Unfortunately, that didn't go as planned.
I will never forget that phone call. I was walking downtown with my friend, I had just gotten a haircut, wearing a simple t-shirt and jeans, sans-hijab. My phone started ringing. I don't know how, but I just had the feeling that someone had seen me. I just knew it. My brother yelled at me, ordering me to go home immediately. My brother didn't speak to me for three months. My mother's disappointment was beyond unbearable. My father called me, telling me I was dead to him. My oldest brother showed no reaction. After a few days of hell, my oldest brother and my mother informed me that my other brother (the one who caught me) was planning on moving out and disowning the family because of what I had done. They then surprised me by telling me that the hijab was my choice - although what I did was wrong, they couldn't force me to wear it. They felt that forcing me into it would just make me stray from the religion. If only they knew.
My brother finally started speaking to me again, after three agonizing months of silence. I am eternally thankful for that. Although my dad isn't happy with my decision, he is speaking to me as well, only because my mother is pretty much forcing him to. Our relationship has been strained for years, and it is showing no signs of changing.
Now? I am hijab-free, religion-free, and have never been happier. FFI was the last push I needed to finally leave the cult of Islam and start making my own decisions in life, instead of turning to a severely outdated book for guidance. I didn't fast this past Ramadan, and that experience broke down the final barrier. I am now free.
Thank you for reading my story. I know it's long, but believe it or not, this is just a summary!