Nora Farrah (former Muslim)
Testimony of Leaving Islam
I was raised in a very strict, almost fanatical, Muslim household. From the age of seven I was told to pray 5 times a day and to wear the hijab or risk the belt. I never really questioned Islam much as a youngster, I forced myself to believe what I was taught. Questioning the religion of Allah is a great sin, I was taught, one that was caused by the devil who runs through the bodies of men like the blood. At the age of 17 I decided that I would study Islamic history, the sayings of the prophet and the Quran. I was struck my how male dominated Islam was…the Quran spoke of a heaven where men would be greeted by 70 houris, with rivers of wine and honey. No similar promise was made to women; in fact, the prophet said that most of the inhabitants of hell were women! Nevertheless, I told myself that escaping punishment in the hereafter was a sufficient motivation for following Islam.
In 2001 I undertook a study of Molecular Biology at university. The years I spent at university were the turning point in my life. I was exposed to various ideologies; including the various sects of Islam. I began to study their origins almost obsessively. I also discovered philosophy and began to logically question Islam. I came to realize how it all mounted to mere opinions and that faith required that I shutoff my reasoning…with so called prophets and mullahs prying on man’s need for a purpose and the knowledge of what happens after death. It seemed ridiculous to take the testimonies (which themselves were contradictory) of men whom I have never met.
Of course I understand the appeal Islam may represent for Muslim men…but as a woman, Islam offered me oppression on earth and oppression in the hereafter. Muhammad tells me to obey my husband without questioning, that I’m merely a sex object for a man to fulfill his desires. My chastity I was told protect…my circumcision was to ensure that. My life is only worth half of that of a man, this is because I am intellectually and spiritually inferior I was told. Allah in the Quran was very accommodating for his prophet and his fellow men.
Leaving Islam has not been easy. Removing my veil was a great shock to my family. Till now I have not told them the extent of my disbelief as this may cause risks to my safety. I am still searching for enlightenment and have not made up my mind about God. But I have found tremendous inner freedom. As Nietzsche put it, "the individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself".