Mahavira (former Muslim)
Testimony of Leaving Islam
I was born into a household with two faiths. My mother is nominally Christian, with a (mostly) rational mind. My father is Muslim. I was raised the latter; learning to read Arabic, learning prayers and following the traditions of the faith. I spent much of the early part of my life in front of a Qaida, Koran or other religious book. While other children played and watched cartoons after school, I read aloud Surats from the Koran. My aunt had a miraculous ability to correct every mistake, every mis-pronunciation while cooking nearby. As for the meaning of what I read, I had no idea.
Growing up, I was very close to my father. He was incredibly loving and selfless. It is for this reason that I held Islam close and dear to me. My father didn't lie, he was a caring and devoted man; I believed that this must be associated somehow with the religion he believed in so strongly. Any religion that my father believed in had to be Truth. So when I attained something good, it was by the grace of Allah. Indeed, I felt in my heart that it really was a reward from God. When I needed help, I turned to Allah. Sinning meant praying for forgiveness, du'ah, sadka.
Unfortunately, there was trouble from an early age - my mind was filled with questions, doubts, compassion. There is an unwritten rule in Islamic society: 'don't ask questions'. While apologists and `modern' Muslims may claim this the fault of the individual community leaders and not the religion, it is accepted as fact that Islam does nothing to promote critical thinking. The most common response to questions was, 'who told you about this?', 'who have you been talking to?'. The Jews and Freemasons were always out to destroy Islam with their friends the Christians. It was never explained exactly why this was going on, just that it was.
Family and community politics drove my parents away from the Mosque and community. As I grew older, religion became less important. It wasn't until I was 19 or 20 that I came back. The emptiness of a life of `hanging out', going to nightclubs, etc, drove me to find a greater meaning to life. I remembered once feeling that Islam was great and true. I always felt, in the back of my mind, that one day I would return. Turning to the Internet, reading testimonials of reverts moved me emotionally. Studying the history of 'glorious' Islamic civilizations fanned a desire to identify.
I was comfortable, for a while. What I liked about being a Muslim was the community. Muslims are generally very warm and hospitable. There was nothing nicer than going to Jumma, praying with and saying Salaam to everyone. The khutbas did not teach me very much. When they were not about the virtues of donating to the Mosque, they discussed the obvious faults of man and how Islam was the solution.
I tried really hard to find some deep meaning in the Koran. I read it every night, trying to work my way through. At first, I was disturbed by the contradicting nature of Allah. In the Koran, Allah constantly asserts how all forgiving and merciful he is. That's very nice, except for the fact that he threatens `fire' for this or that almost as often. I didn't understand this. I continued to read it, assuming that I simply could not comprehend the greater meaning. To be completely honest, the more I read, the less I believed it was divine. It was repetitive and uninspiring. There were very few verses that touched me.
The cracks in my faith grew deeper than simply questioning the divinity of the Koran. Several important tenets of Abrahamic religions just did not make sense. The anthropomorphic God. I cannot believe in this concept. In Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, there is a human framework around God - this is limiting and not acceptable to me as the Absolute. The concept of God to me is an Absolute that transcends the human properties of `ego', `jealousy', etc. Any `all-powerful' and `all-knowing' is not the overlord of Abrahamic religions, who has a `chosen people', sends prophets and destroys unbelieving nations. What a ridiculous notion. Anyone who has the courage to step away from their precious and dear beliefs will immediately see that the description of this God defies logic and common sense. And then there are the concepts of soul, judgment, and the afterlife. I cannot believe in any of these. The concept of judgment is wholly irrational and unfair. In Islam, an infant who dies goes straight to heaven. What a deal. While most of us must live through the trials and temptations of life, these souls get a free ticket to an eternity of paradise. Is this fair? Of course not. It is ridiculous. So absurd, in fact, that it feels trivial to mention. Yet this is believed in by billions. Most importantly, why? Why heaven and hell? Why are we here? Was Allah lonely? Did he create us because he was lacking worship and praise in his infinite void? Why do Heaven and Hell feel all too Earthly?
It finally fell apart on Sept 11/2001. The attack itself was shocking and heartbreaking. It was nothing short of pure evil, murder in the worst possible degree. What was far more disgusting was the worldwide Muslim response, or rather the lack thereof. Muslims all over the world were largely silent. While many sympathized, the majority seemed to cry crocodile tears. Where were the Mullahs and Islamic leaders, making honest and loud condemnations? Where were the demands for reform, for eradication of the root of terrorism? Instead of accepting responsibility, absurd theories like `three thousand Israelis did not show up on Sept 11.. Mossad did it to frame Muslims' were circulated. Evil, cowardly terror attacks continue against _civilians_ in Israel. I have always believed that Palestinians deserve a homeland, however, nothing can justify the butchery of innocent Israelis -- children, women, the elderly. Why? Why isn't this hated and despised, like it should be? What is wrong with the Muslim world? The last realization to move me was that I am happy to be part of a modern, secular, and free Western society. Muslims living comfortably in Western countries speak of the good of Muslim society.. why don't they try it? How was Taliban Afghanistan extreme or misinterpreting the Shariah? They tried their best. It is not as though they decided to misinterpret Islam. They wanted to create an Islamic utopia. They tried to follow Islamic teachings as precisely as possible. What I realized is that, I don't want to live in an Islamic society. I believe that women and men are equal. I do not believe that a shoplifter should have their hands and feed amputated. I do not believe that the Men should get away with rape, or that slave trading is acceptable. Clearly, to any rational individual, these beliefs and rules are backwards and often cruel.
I believe that most young Muslims realize this. The problem with this generation is the need to identify, to belong. Most Muslims that I know are more interested in the `unity' or `brotherhood' of Muslims. They would rather believe in an irrational and cruel religion than detach themselves from their valuable identity. We need to be true to ourselves. We need to stop clinging to what we wish to be perceived as, and seek the Truth with a pure and honest heart. Religion is detrimental, a false sense of hope and source of comfort. It is certainly not worth dying for. I am sick of the suffering and killing solely due to religion. Why did those Muslims in Gujarat have to die? Imagine being born a Muslim, living your entire life as one. Absolutely no reason to convert to any other religion. One day, a mob of Hindus surrounds you with Kerosene. Your crime is being a Muslim. What a sickening, and terrible evil. Why should these people suffer? Why did thousands die when a building was torn down? This utter nonsense needs to end. It makes me so sad, what a waste of life. Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Christians, everyone is being killed here or there for being part of some religion. And none of them have any more legitimacy over another. They are all based on ancient books, fairy tales and promises of salvation of some sort. Most demand blind faith. Some are disturbingly intolerant and aggressive towards others.
I love humanity, I love mankind. Every creature on the planet deserves a chance. If I have a dogma, it is compassion. I should never seek anything that causes another to suffer. The golden rule is common to every belief system. We all inherently know that it is not right to inflict on others what we would not like on ourselves. This is the basis for a universal understanding of human rights. We don't need sacred books or rituals to create an ethical society. Look around, see the ruins of societies past. Gods, beliefs, hopes, they have come and gone. Countless have been worshiped and forgotten. Are we any different? Have we found the Ultimate Truth? Are humans at the end of the line? I do not think so. We must constantly evolve and transcend what we are. Our beliefs in the supernatural, divine, etc, are fading away. The Truth can be found with reason and understanding. At least open your eyes and heart to all that the world has to offer.
The kingdom of God is within you.