Ali Reza (Former Muslim)
Testimony of Leaving Islam
Like most Iranians I grew up compelled to think I’m Muslim, but by taking the time to think and research on my own, I now consider Islam, and religion as a whole, to be an anathema to the people of Iran. There are many violent, misogynist, intolerant passages found in the Quran, along with the thousands of ridiculously flawed theories, but rather than reiterating those I’d like to share more of my own experience.
I found my way out of Islam by researching, travelling, and looking at the world with an open mind, rather than be convinced that all I was told as a child must be true. My journey out of Islam and to atheism was gradual.
Just thinking about how old the earth is (> 4.5 billion years) and how humans have been around for over a hundred thousand years, yet for generations no divinity came down to inform humans about the existence of god, let alone the religions that exist in the world today. All of a sudden in a tiny fraction of our existence on earth, countless number of religions emerged, each claiming to have revealed an inerrant set of laws and beliefs that we must follow. Moses heard god’s voice from a burning bush, Muhammad found god by hallucinating on a mountain, Abraham heard god’s voice telling him he should slaughter his own son, and Jesus was apparently god himself! In today’s world, people making such claims would be in mental institutions receiving help from psychiatrists, not revered as founders of organizations receiving massive government sponsored tax breaks. If someone actually finds it offensive to hear this, then there is something wrong with them, not me for talking about it! Thinking about this in depth nullified the concept of religion for me.
I thought for years, why is it considered so wrong to challenge ideas that are so unclear, yet continue to ruin people’s lives around the world and still, to this day, highly influence our economic and political systems? But because of my Muslim upbringing there was always a part of me that felt like I needed to defend Islam. I was always told how loving and great god is. But in midst of all these thoughts I kept thinking, why does god, who we are told is so caring, focus on a few minuscule prayers, yet does not care about millions of infants who are dying slowly with tremendous physical and emotional pain in the wake of the most horrific natural disasters, or the millions of starving children who pray for just a bit of food, or the innocent victims of rape and child abuse. Can it be that those prayers are just meaningless, and when I am told to pray from something so minor it actually matters? Especially in the case of tragedies that humans have no control over, if god is all powerful and loving, he should be able to save the numerous infants from being ripped into pieces and suffering a horrific death in a natural disaster. If he cannot then he is not all powerful, and if he can, yet chooses to do nothing, then how can anyone consider him loving. Thinking about this in depth nullified the concept of praying for me.
At this point I find it strange that people would leave Islam for Christianity, or another religion. If people have the power and freedom to liberate themselves from Islam only to convert to another religion, it means that they probably did not leave Islam for the right reasons.
One of my ultimate goals in life is to spread knowledge as much as possible. Right now there are millions of people in the Muslim world who cannot even grasp the option of life without god. Questioning the existence of god is unheard of, and they don’t even think atheists exist. This is all due to lack of education. Many even believe that people should be killed for leaving Islam, let alone denying god. Many of them have never read the Quran in their mother language. If knowledge spreads and people become more educated, I am convinced that atheism will grow tremendously in Muslim countries. Many ex-Muslims out there, like me, are former ‘moderates’ who defended Islam at one point even though we did not really practice it. I became an atheist when I acquired more knowledge. Putting an end to censorship combined with more access to information has led thousands upon thousands of us to leave Islam.
I realize that this website focuses on criticizing Islam, but I believe all religions must be criticized. I find the concept of having no religion to be incredibly liberating and beautiful. However, this does not mean that I dislike people who consider themselves religious. Religion is such a great tool to for controlling people and I know that religious people are no different from me, they have just fallen victim to this concept. For some it is too late to realize but for the majority knowledge and education will set them free.
I grew up in a country that has been devastated by many different reasons; one of them is the religion of Islam. Centuries before Americans even heard of the term “Islamic Terrorism”, Iran, known as Persia at the time, was conquered by Muslim warriors and as a result Iran is now a “Muslim country”. I’m against the religion and its outdated system of laws, just as I am against other religions. I believe in promoting education, and an open minded global community that seeks the truth. I endeavor to encourage others to look for answers rather than just accepting what they have been told. I want people to allow their children to develop their own thoughts by giving them access to all the information available out there and not make them believe one way is better than the other. There is nothing wrong with admitting that something you have been told your entire life may not be correct. I am optimistic about the future, with more access to information the religion is fading rapidly.