Baaligh Aaqil (former Muslim)
Testimony of Leaving Islam
Actually sitting down to write this testimonial represents perhaps the biggest step so far in my journey out of Islam.
Before I begin, I must say that I find this site extremely useful for those of us who are making the extremely difficult, often confusing, and sometimes painful separation from the fanatically brainwashing teachings of Muhammad and his Qur'an. Because Muhammad explicitly taught Muslims: "Whoever leaves his religion among you, then kill him," I will deliberately not give details about my life that will allow people who know me to figure out exactly who I am. However, every bit of detail that I write here is 100% true.
My parents were African American converts to Islam. Looking back, it is easy to see how the religion, with its apparent emphasis on faith, morality, and racial equality, could have captured the minds of young, idealistic southern blacks in the times following the civil rights movement.
By the time I was born, my parents had fully made the transition from the cult-like, black nationalist teachings of the Nation of Islam to "mainstream" Sunni Islam. (Interestingly enough, I now believe that the same things that caused my mother to leave the teachings of Elijah Muhammamd-- i.e. his sexual perversion, radical extremism, etc.-- could also cause her to leave the teachings of Muhammad ibn Abdillah, if only she knew the truth.) My mother was by all accounts a good woman. She gave us the education she thought we would need in order to be good Muslim kids. This meant regular lessons in Qur'an and Arabic at the local mosque, coupled with readings about stories of the "prophet" and his "great companions" and the early scholars of Islam. By the time I was 12, I had memorized a great deal of the Qur'an and was often called upon to recite it at community gatherings and to lead the prayers when the Imam was absent. I began to receive daily classes in Qur'an and Hadith and, by account of my Syrian Qur'an teachers and everyone at the mosque, I could recite the Qur'an without the slightest trace of an American accent. I was the community show kid. Despite the fact that I was practically spoon-fed the faith since the time I was born, my interest in Islam, I would have told you, was completely voluntary. In my teens, I was very active in reading about comparative religion and often spent my time talking to my friends about the virtues of Islam, or arguing online about why Islam was the final, true religion. I had practically memorized all of the late Ahmed Deedat's works, and became very interested in the writings of Bilal Philips on the nature of Tawheed (the oneness of Allah), Shirk (Pretty much anything that contradicts Tawheed), and the importance of following the Sunnah (Basically everything Muhammad ever said, did, or was cool with.)
I became extremely interested in what is known as "Wahabiism". At the time, of course, I would never have called it that. For me, it was clear that what Muhammad Bin Abdul Wahab had preached was essentially the same thing that Muhammad had called to: Strict and absolute monotheism, rejection and hatred of disbelief and disbelievers (walaa and baraa), rejection and hatred of innovations in religion (bid'ah), and an overall return to the literal teachings of the Qur'an and sunnah. If any Muslims had a problem with this--and many do--then they clearly have a problem with what Muhammad himself taught. With that said, I didn't see myself as an extremist. I still wanted to go to college and study computer sciences, I still wanted a house in the suburbs, I still hung out with my friends at Starbucks. For me, my choice to follow such a strict interpretation of Islam was purely logical: If we say we follow Muhammad, then let's follow Muhammad.
By my late teens, during my first year in college, I had my first real introduction into things that would sow the seeds of my leaving Islam, although at the time I didn't realize it. I remember taking biology classes and learning about evolution. I dismissed most of what I learned as false "theory", and tried to reconcile the rest with what I knew from the Qur'an. I began reading heavily about the so-called "Qur'anic scientific miracles," and even became active in giving dawah (calling to Islam) on campus using these miracles as a part of my evidence. I think that because I could recite the verses in Arabic as well translate them on the spot into English, it made a much more impressive show for my college mates. I converted two people to Islam, giving them Shahadah myself.
Another class that really stuck out in my mind was world history. It was difficult for me to accept that the Most Merciful Allah would allow that many generations of human beings to live and die, just to throw them all in hell at the end. The Qur'an teaches about 25 prophets specifically, and no more than 100,000 are said to have existed since the dawn of humanity, and yet we have thousands upon thousands of years of human history, of which Islam, or even anything resembling Islamic monotheism, played absolutely no part whatsoever. I was partly pacified by the hadith that states that those who had heard nothing about Islam would be tested on the Day of Judgment and allowed to enter paradise if they succeeded in obeying Allah then. However, what about those who had heard something about Islam, and had just dismissed it as false in the same way that I had dismissed Mormonism or Jainism or the teachings of Rastafarianism without much thought or consideration. Islam teaches that they WOULD be thrown into hell. Was that fair? Again, I didn't let myself think about that too much.
Then, 9/11 happened. I was immediately involved in efforts to show the "true, peaceful" side of Islam to an outraged yet curious public. Unfortunately, the more I read, the more I realized that I would have to hide things in order to make people accept Islam. No one would accept that Muhammad allowed the genocide of a thousand Jewish men, looking at their penises for traces of pubic hair to determine who should be killed and who should be enslaved. No one would be OK with the fact that the Qur'an clearly states that Muslims should kill unbelievers wherever they find them, and that the scholars of Tafsir taught that this "verse of the sword" abrogated all previous verses advocating peace. I realized that if I were to get anyone to accept Islam, I would have to focus on its theology, which is at least much more straight forward and comprehensible than the theology of most other religions. Any time anyone wanted to bring up terrorism, women's rights, democracy in Islam, etc, I knew I had to bring the conversation back to the oneness of Allah. I allowed this to make sense in my mind because, as Muhammad Bin Abdul Wahhab had taught, this was the basis of Islam anyway.
At around that time, with the recommendation of my local Imam, I was accepted into an Islamic university in a Muslim country (A part of me badly wants to name the country and city I studied in, but that may narrow things down too much and with the whole apostate death thing, that might not be such a good idea.) Anyway, in my travels, I was able to study Islam from its original Arabic sources and even had the opportunity to literally study at the feet of Muslim scholars in the holy city of Makkah, while looking at the Kaabah itself. In many regards, I admire the wahhabi's no-nonsense, no apologies, literal blind following of exactly what Muhammad taught. That is undoubtedly the way that Muhammad wanted Islam to be lived (There are many hadiths and Qur'anic verses to support this, but I won't list them all here.) I once remember a wahabi scholar insisting that the brain was not the center of the intellect, rather their heart was, as this is what is taught in the Qur'an. When one of the students questioned him about proven conditions like brain damage that affects the intellect, and heart transplants that do not, his response was "We don't believe those lying doctors over the words of Allah."
With that attitude, I tried to force myself to believe in the things that Islam taught that I knew for a fact were not true. Like the idea that the sun prostrates under Allah's throne at night, or that human life on earth could have possibly started with the creation of Adam from clay only a few generations before Nuh's flood, which according to Tafsir, was no more than 10,000 years ago. I also tried to hang on to the idea that Islam was a peaceful religion, while learning all the details of Muhammad's bloody campaigns and raids. Not to mention all of his marriages, concubines, and prisoners of war. Eventually, as I learned more about the "reason for revelation" for certain verses, which often involved horrible dealings with women, unjustifiable military raids and conquests, and situations so specific that it is hard to imagine such a great God would care much about them, it became difficult for me to read certain parts of the Qur'an.
Why was the great Allah so involved in petty arguments and feuds in 7th century Arabia, yet completely silent through virtually every other great war, atrocity, and human calamity since Muhammad's death. Why did the wise Allah find it so important to scorn Muhammad's wives in scrolls eternal, yet not think it would be a good idea to abolish slavery--which the Arabs were heavily involved in. Why did the creator of the universe spend so much time talking about obscure concepts like the "seven heavens" and the "lamps as missiles to drive away devils" yet not mention anything about observable, verifiable phenomena like the solar system and galaxies and supernova and white dwarfs--things that would really show that Muhammad received revelations from the creator.
With time, I found myself afraid and worried of the idea that somehow, I had done something wrong to cause Allah to want to lead me astray. I prayed more, I fasted more, I read more of the Qur'an. But the more I read, the more I doubted. Finally, I got the courage to actually read books critical of Islam and religion in general. Books like "The God Delusion" and "God Isn't Great." Rather than learning something new, I found that these books only confirmed what I had known inside all along. The problem was not with me; the problem was with Muhammad and the religion he taught. Rather than feeling bad, I began to feel free. I lost all the guilt that Islam had so forcefully put inside of me my whole life. I began to understand that I was attracted to women not because Satan was whispering at me to look at haram things, but because sexual attraction was how evolution ensured the survival of the human race for the past several hundreds of thousands of years. I began to understand that the reason I could get along with some people who were not Muslims was not because I had some "weakness" in my heart, but because you didn't have to believe in Muhammad in order to be a decent person, and because people can not logically be condemned to hell simply because they were indoctrinated since birth in a religion other than the one that I was brainwashed into believing. Most of all, I came to realize that no one dogma or doctrine fits every scenario in every time. While there are undoubtedly some good things that Islam has done for the world, these good things do not make Islam true, especially since it so clearly isn't. No more than the fact that kids behave better on Christmas Eve when they believe in Santa Clause makes that belief true. We can not be afraid to change our views when logical, rational, provable truth stares us dead in the eye. We may not have all the answers now, but we should never let a repressive, fictional ideology keep us from looking for as much truth as we can scientifically find.