An Ex-convert's Ordeal: Islam's False Sense of Peace
14 Mar, 2009
Almost Aisha, a Christian girl, who fell in love with a Muslim man and eventually converted to Islam, describes her torturous journey into Islam as a warning to those, who may be thinking of falling in love with, or marrying, a Muslim.
My dear brothers and sisters in humanity,
- I am an ex-convert to Islam, thankfully saved from slavery to an evil cult leader of the 7th century by the love and devotion of my family. I write to you today because I feel that it is time for me to come forward and share with you a little bit of my experiences with Islam over the past couple of years.
I was hesitant at first about sharing my story, as I doubted whether my writing would make any difference. I haven’t had the opportunity to study the errors and atrocities in the Qur’an and Hadith nearly as thoroughly as the authors of great articles here on FFI, so my story is unlikely to surprise you with new information. Similarly, having never lived in a Muslim country I cannot speak of the effects of a Muslim society- the stories of war, injustice, violence, discrimination, and sheer religious stupidity that seem to abound from these places. I have not personally had any terrible experiences with Islam or Muslims that will shock you. So I thought, at first, that my writing here was unnecessary.
Upon reflection, I have come to realize that this is precisely why I have to put in my two cents. As a Muslim, when I was faced with stories of the apostasy of ex-Muslims, I often found in the dramatic nature of events surrounding their decision an excuse to dismiss them. They had witnessed a war, or been abused, or been manipulated for political reasons — they had all experienced the stupidity of ignorant so-called Muslims. Their stories did not faze my faith in the least- I felt sorry for them for having had to go through such trials, but reproached them for being unable to see (everyone say it with me now) “the difference between the people and the religion”. Well, the Muslims surrounding me were all of the kindest, most accepting people I had met (both before and after my conversion), so I guess I fell into the trap that I had been so set on avoiding- judging the religion by the people.
My story is not outlandish like something out of a movie, but I
am writing in the hopes that even one convert or would-be convert to
Islam will find it easier to relate to than other more sensational
tales. Who knows, perhaps a liberating seed of doubt will then be
I was born Catholic, but was never really practicing apart from
the occasional trip to church. As a young teenager I became exposed
to people of many different sects of Christianity. After analyzing
and comparing their beliefs, I saw a lack of logic in them that
brought me to the conclusion that man had invented religion. This
did not affect my life, as I had never been a strong believer after
early childhood, and my morality had never been based on religion.
However, I remained fascinated with the idea of faith and how people
could believe something without proof with so much confidence. I
enjoyed talking to religious people and trying to understand them,
and in the meantime I varied between phases of atheist and agnostic
points of view.
I first became exposed to Islam when I started university, and made a few really good Muslim friends. Among these friends was a boy who would become my best friend and whom I would later fall in love with. (I know what you’re thinking- she converted for love! Not the case. But this is an important part of the story so pay attention- especially if you’re a girl). Despite calling himself Muslim and speaking proudly of his religion, (let’s call him Mahbub) Mahbub was hardly a practicing Muslim. He had many close girl friends, loved to go clubbing, and hardly ever prayed. It was because of this that I was so upset with my parents when they told me that they could not allow me to date him solely because of his religion. They tried to explain that the differences in our way of life and culture would eventually ruin our lives and furthermore that Muslim men were controlling and misogynistic. The idea seemed ridiculous to me, racist even, and because I had always had a great relationship with my parents their disapproval hurt, angered and confused me.
But it was too late. Or that’s how it felt anyways. I was already in love and after being fed countless Romeo & Juliet stories (with happier endings of course) throughout my life, I felt that we were simply misunderstood and my parents would see that eventually. So in love and full of faith in things working out in the end, I continued to date him, in secret. He never risked telling his parents about us of course, as he knew that they would never allow him to date.
In practice we were actually perfect for each other, and personality-wise had few if any problems throughout our relationship. It was all rainbows and butterflies. The problems we faced came from a different angle.
Soon after we started dating he told me that he would only marry a Muslim woman, simply because he thought that any other marriage would mean too much conflict in ideals. He said he would never want me to convert for him however, but only out of my own faith. I told him that I would probably never develop faith in any religion because my mind was simply not programmed for that. We obviously saw this as a problem, but love blinds and he went on having faith that I would one day “see the light”, while I was sure that eventually he would change his mind.
We dated for almost two years, and in this time his expectations had imposed so many rules on my life so gradually that I had barely even noticed. I first stopped drinking, then eating pork. Next came wearing tank tops or anything that showed off skin above my knees. I had to give up swimming because of bathing suits (unless it was in an all-girls pool). Then I could not hug other boys or dance in public. I am sure you must be thinking how much of an idiot I am to be so easily controlled, and I don’t blame you– I wonder how I got there myself. But it was actually not very hard thinking back. First, many of the things I gave up never meant much to me anyway- I didn’t really drink or like pork, I am a fairly modest dresser by nature, and I am usually much too self-conscious to dance in public. Second, he never actually demanded these things of me- he would just manipulate my emotions by becoming very quiet and cold towards me if I crossed any of these lines. I confronted him many times of course, and we both agreed that it was unfair of him to expect these things from me, but he came from the angle of “well does (blank) really mean more to you than me…?” And of course it didn’t. I loved him; I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him… so what if I couldn’t (blank) because his cultural boundaries made him uncomfortable with it? In the end I always decided it was not worth the fights and another rule was established.
I want to make it clear that Mahbub is a really good person with a great heart, and he (almost) always treated me with utmost love and respect. He was always there for me and we made many lovely memories. Compared with other relationships I knew about, he was an angel of a boyfriend. My point here is not to say that “Muslim men are bad”; it’s not true and you can’t convince me of it. But there are three conclusions that I have come to because of this experience.
- A Muslim person no matter how liberal and non-practicing, as
long as they proudly call themselves Muslim, always has the
potential of becoming religious even to an extreme. During the
course of our relationship, I wasn’t the only one to have new
rules imposed on me. Mahbub became gradually more and more
religious, giving up clubbing, starting to pray 5 times a day,
eating only halal food, and separating himself from close
friendships with (other) girls.
- A romantic relationship between people of different faiths
cannot work if one of them is Muslim. Mahbub is neither
controlling nor misogynistic by nature, far from it, but when it
comes to the expectations of appropriate behavior a Muslim person
must follow the Qur’an… and it is the religion itself that is
extremely controlling and misogynistic, among other things. When
we met, Mahbub would not care if for example I wore a short dress
with spaghetti straps- but the more religious he became, the less
appropriate my normal behavior seemed, and the more uncomfortable
he became with it.
- I have come to realize that one of the reasons that it was so
easy for me to accept Islam is that I was already living under
many of its rules. Of course, the notion that there was a greater
purpose and reason for these restrictions than simply trying to
smooth over cultural differences with my boyfriend was a welcome
The Conversion Story
Mahbub and I often discussed and debated religion, but it was not through him that I really learned about Islam. I became more and more interested in the religion when I began having debates about it with a very religious girlfriend. She seemed to always have good answers for my questions, which were mostly regarding the morality and wisdom behind certain Islamic customs and rules. The more we discussed it, the less harmless and more logical the religion appeared. My point of view was further shaken when I read about the “Scientific Miracles of the Qur’an”. For the first time, I began to consider that Islam might be not only a good way of life, but a divinely ordained one as well. I studied the religion more closely then, devoting more time to learning about the Prophet Muhammad and starting to read the Qur’an.
At some point along the way, I stopped questioning the truth of Islam. To this day it is difficult for me to say what exactly caused this silent acceptance, though I suppose the fact that I was only discussing Islam with Muslims might have been a strong factor. They taught me (perhaps innocently) the Westernized peaceful Islam as “true Islam”, and anything that I brought up as evidence contradicting this was dismissed as a cultural or political problem- “this is not Islam”.
I subconsciously decided to accept Islam, but I thought it was
something I would not do officially until for a long time. First, I
intended to learn everything there was to learn about the religion
so that when I had to face my parents I could do so with knowledge
and convincing proof. Discussing the matter with my religious
girlfriend one day, however, convinced me that my parents would have
a very difficult time accepting my decision no matter when I did it,
so I agreed that there was no point in waiting. That day, I accepted
Islam with her as witness.
Islam means Peace
After my conversion, I felt a sense of peace and happiness that I had never before experienced in my life, and hope to never experience again. This was the peace that came with knowing with full certainty that I was in the right path. Knowing that there was a Creator who was watching over me and who had a plan for me. Knowing that He had in his infinite mercy bestowed me with the Qur’an, an instruction manual for life so that from now on I could always know the right choice and be certain of my decisions. Knowing that earthly problems did not matter at all, because this life would eventually be over and then I could look forward to paradise.
Another major factor that brought me happiness, slightly embarrassing to admit, was that I felt special. I did not have self-esteem problems before, but having somehow been chosen to be shown the correct path by Allah brought me a whole new level of pride. It suddenly seemed that every event of my life, every meeting and decision had somehow been divinely orchestrated to get me to this point of belief. And of course, if Allah had led me here then He must have a great purpose in mind for me- something much greater than my previous goals of career, travel and family. I started dreaming of all the ways that I could contribute to His great religion.
I also felt like I could suddenly “see” after being in the dark for so long. I think this feeling came from the fact that I finally understood the way that religious people around me thought and felt. Also, it definitely seemed like the world was brighter with beliefs that provided me with comfort, certainty and purpose. It was delightful to believe that anything good that came to me was a blessing decreed by Allah, and anything bad was a test that He was giving me to increase my status in Paradise. I understand why Muslims hold on so tightly to their beliefs, I figured I would rather die than go back to disbelieving.
After officially becoming a convert, I was thrust into the Muslim community, which welcomed me with arms wide open. My close Muslim friends were bursting with happiness when they found out. When they introduced me to new Muslim brothers and sisters, they did so with a deep tone of pride as the other person gaped at me in awe and admiration. Mahbub and I broke up because I wanted to do everything the proper Islamic way, but this brought neither of us sadness as we still planned to get married after completing our degrees. An unexpected blessing after converting was the sense of belonging and acceptance to this great community of people. Muslims I had never seen before and others that I barely knew were congratulating me and telling me how I was an inspiration for them. I did not feel worthy of the admiration at all, but was glad that I might be bringing others closer to the deen [religion].
I had begun wearing the headscarf and clothing that would reveal
no more skin than my face and hands. I devoted a lot of time to my
Islamic education. I focused on learning the prayers in Arabic and
watching online lectures on Islam by respected scholars. I even
enrolled in a free online Arabic course. I did not need any
encouragement to do any of these things; Islam was simply addictive.
Life became slightly more complicated as I had to schedule my day
around the five prayers and I was now limited to eating halal food,
but it never felt difficult—it was a small price to pay after all,
to please Allah who had blessed me so much. Besides, I was sure that
there were good reasons for these laws and that following them would
be to my benefit, both here and in the afterlife.
Muslim Way of Thinking
Becoming a part of the Muslim community provided me with some insight into what Islam does to people’s minds. Most of the following things even I found a little off when I witnessed them, yet sadly they never made me doubt the truth of Islam.
Muslims were very generous to me, and many strangers even gave me gifts of beautiful scarves or clothing. A few of these I know were given from the heart, but the rest came along with serious requests that I include the person in my prayers. It was done in such a way that it felt oddly like a transaction, and I am sure that this is how they thought of it: gifts for prayers.
I had not realized how obsessed Muslims are with the calling of others to Islam (dawah) until a Muslim friend encouraged me to talk to my roommate about Islam and invite her to Qur’an study circles with me, simply because I told her how accepting my roommate had been of my conversion. I was also commended that talking to my parents about Islam was great dawah. In terms of education, I found it surprising how highly popular and easily available dawah courses were. I later understood the reason for this when I learned that it is each Muslim’s personal duty to perform dawah. It was also interesting to see the pleasure that Muslims derived from finding evidence that Christianity is wrong and from wondering in amazement how Christians can believe such absurdities.
The Us versus Them mentality promoted by Islam was also clear. Even after a short time as a Muslim, I began to think this way myself. When I saw someone who I identified as a Muslim, having never met him or her before, I felt a certain sense of kinship. I even started to accept the idea that it is preferable to give charity to Muslims than non-Muslims. I saw non-Muslims who questioned Islam as lost or stubborn people and felt sorry for them for their lack of understanding. Unless of course they spoke badly of Islam, in which case my pity turned to anger at their ignorance and spreading of lies. Of course that was the only reason anyone would criticize Islam, out of ignorance.
I always affirmed to non-Muslims that there was definitely freedom to question in Islam. I think I was in denial myself however, because I should have known better. Once, when searching online for evidence that the Qur’an had not been changed, I accidentally stumbled upon a website by Christians that claimed otherwise. I would not have paid attention to such a website, but it had been done so cleverly that I did not even realize that they were finding faults in my religion until I had been reading for a while. I was intrigued by their claims, and though no doubt entered my heart I decided I wanted to learn the “real” story. I sent this website to a Muslim friend, hoping to get some feedback to explain how this website was twisting or fabricating facts. She replied with a very upset email saying that we should not waste time looking at such websites. I calmed her down and told her it was okay to look at the other side of the argument so that we could defend our faith even better. After this, she sent me information regarding the history of the collection of the Qur’an, but she never directly addressed the claims on that website.
When trying to explain the death penalty on apostasy to a non-Muslim friend, a Muslim friend of mine defended it by saying of course every apostate did not have to be killed, this was just for cases when the person went around bashing and trying to hurt Islam. As if this made it perfectly justified. The sad part is, at the time I agreed. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think either of us would have ever condemned an apostate to death, she is a sweet, peaceful girl- but the fact that the idea that it could ever happen felt alright deeply disturbs me.
When I told my parents about my conversion, they were extremely upset to put it mildly. After trying to change my mind with all the arguments that they knew, they started a campaign to research Islam in depth. I was told that when I went home I would have to read many books that proved Islam was wrong. I talked to a Muslim Chaplain about this, seeking advice. I assured her that I was very strong in my faith and these books could never weaken it. I knew it was a waste of time to read them because they could contain nothing but lies and hate for beautiful Islam, but I felt that if I refused it would be an insult to my parents who had taken the time to find these things for me. She said in no uncertain terms that I could not allow myself to read such “hate literature”- that refusing to read it might be an insult to my parents, but reading was definitely an insult towards God. I did not agree with this at all, how could God be insulted by what I read?
The self-censorship soon started, though. I had been told that the verse that instructs men to beat their wives in the Qur’an was merely a symbolic commandment, that somehow what it really meant was that men could not physically harm their wives. This was proven by a single Hadith that I was never shown, and to this day still have not read, yet somehow I bought it. It was a little harder to defend it that way to outsiders regardless, especially my parents. Highly frustrated, I one day thought why would Allah, by allowing this misleading verse to be part of the Qur’an, make it so difficult for others to see the beauty of Islam? Why would He be so unclear that it seemed like the book was saying the complete opposite of what He wanted? I almost voiced this out-loud to a friend… and then it hit me what a terrible sinful statement it would be, doubting the wisdom of Allah. The most I could bring myself to do was wonder out loud what was the wisdom behind the wording of this verse.
Mahbub and I remained best friends, but it was soon indicated to me that this close friendship was wrong. According to Islam, there should be no friendship between different genders. I agreed with this view in general, but I tried to defend our friendship as an exception. I thought, such friendships are forbidden to prevent that the people will fall in love, but well we were already in love so there was no sense in ending the friendship now. However, I was encouraged to separate myself from him with two arguments. First, I was assured that Allah loves us when we give up things we love for His sake. Taking Mahbub out of my life might be very painful, but surely I must have faith that Allah would replace whatever I gave up with something better, that is how He worked. Second, if Mahbub was hurt and felt alone without me then this could drive him closer to Allah and to become a better Muslim. In fact, I was told I should make it very clear to him that the reason we could no longer be close was that I felt that he was not very serious about religion. This was sure to motivate him to practice Islam with more devotion. This kind of manipulation felt wrong to me, how could I deliberately cause someone I loved pain to change their level of religiosity? Then again, it would be better for him in the end…. We did tone down our friendship, though we tried to do it gradually and were never able to completely give it up. The change in him was evident—he always prayed five times a day now, devoted a lot of time to watching Islamic lectures, and even grew a beard. His own parents began to refer to him as an extremist. I was so proud of him… and now I only feel guilt and sadness over the part I played in his change.
One of the strangest ways of thinking I encountered was when a Muslim friend told me that she was jealous when she saw how much suffering I was experiencing with the disapproval of my parents. She said that she would not like to be in my position, but that she knew that every headache I contracted and every tear I shed was increasing my level in Paradise. She testified that Allah tests the true believers the most, and she could not help but be jealous that, after starting out with a clean slate of no sins I was immediately rising up in Paradise levels. This is not something that she said to me to make me feel better, this is the way that Islam taught her to think. She spoke of the companions of the Prophet who would cry when their lives became too easy because they thought Allah no longer loved them. This felt twisted to me, and I was sure that I would give up the higher levels of Paradise if it meant that my relationship with my parents would be healed.
I want to emphasize something again. You should all be so lucky as to be around the quality of Muslims that I’ve had in my life. They are good, loving, peaceful souls, simply trying their best to be good Muslims. It is clear to me now that all of these twisted ideals and morals that they carry are solely a product of their submitting to Islam. The more religious a Muslim is, in terms of knowledge and practical application of the religion, the more twisted their mind and morality becomes. So, you may encounter good people that call themselves Muslims- in my experience, it is very likely. Please do not judge the religion by the people.
The House of Cards begins to crumble
As I delved into learning and practicing Islam, there were definitely things I stumbled upon that would have made any reasonable person doubt the legitimacy of the religion. Unfortunately, whenever I found one of these things, I programmed myself to find an excuse for it and put it aside. After all, if even one thing was wrong then I knew that would mean everything was wrong… it would mean all the peace and fulfillment I had felt was invalid. And I was not willing to let that feeling go, not for anything.
I first noticed how some of the information that had been given to me before converting to Islam was slowly revealed as inaccurate, without much excuse or explanation for why it had not been fully revealed before. For example, I had been told outright that women had the right to divorce in Islam (one of the many rights given to us by Islam, subhanallah). When discussing it after my conversion however, I was told without ceremony that women couldn’t initiate a divorce. I was confused, and they tried to smooth this over by saying that it was “sort of” like a divorce, but worked in a slightly different way… Why, I wondered, didn’t they explain it this way before? In another case, I was told also that Aisha loved the Prophet so much that she never remarried after his death. The fact that according to the Qur’an, had she done so, both her and her new husband would have been committing a most major sin… was left out of the story.
I was also confused by the authenticity of Hadiths as measured in discussions. I had of course been taught about the collection and classification of Hadiths, and felt the Muslim pride that unlike Christian writings ours remained authentic and unchanged. However, it seemed that in a discussion authenticity was simply measured by the light under which the narration portrayed Islam. Whenever a Hadith went against the picture of Islam being promoted it was said to be “rare”, “questionable”, “fabricated”, or at the very least mistranslated. I was disoriented; I thought Bukhari was the most authentic? Well he was of course, but there were still some weak Hadiths in his collection. The more I asked the more it seemed… “some” meant “a lot” of weak hadiths. When the opposite was true and the narration fit the version of Islam being promoted, the most rare Hadiths were put forward as irrefutable evidence.
As I said earlier, I devoted a great deal of time to watching lectures by scholars online. I simply loved the way that they explained and justified Islam. However, it is a curious thing that I could not find any videos that I could send my parents to show them how Islam really was. Every single video seemed to have at least one extremist point that either I myself rejected and overlooked as an incorrect view of Islam, or that I agreed with but knew that my parents would be deeply disturbed to learn. Looking back I can’t believe my own gullibility at this point. I guess I really believed that somehow I was the only one who understood the spirit of true Islam, even better than these scholars sometimes! Then again, my other option was to entertain the idea that I might be wrong about everything…hardly appealing.
There were other ridiculous things that didn’t make sense to me… like when I found out that the Prophet said to eat with you right hand, because the devil eats with his left hand and we should not imitate him. Or the fact that it was crucial to keep track of the times I went to the washroom during the day so that I would know whether I had broken my wudu or not. All these things I put away into the box in my mind labeled “Allah knows best”. I have renamed that box “denial”.
When the time came for me to go visit my parents, I was advised
by a religious friend and a local shaykh to not go. Everyone
insisted that I could never break ties with my family because it was
un-Islamic. However, these two people said that putting myself in a
situation where I would be under such significant stress spiritually
was also against Islam and a sin. They said I should wait, and let
more time pass before I faced them. I did not think for a minute
that there was anything that my parents could do or say that would
lead me to stop believing. So I was never worried about that, and
was perhaps slightly annoyed at these advisors for lacking
confidence in the strength of my faith. Anyway, my family meant too
much for me to take the advice of staying away from them. I felt I
had to do everything in my power to show them the true Islam, and I
did not want to do anything to risk losing them forever. I did
however, go with a plan to basically run away from home if things
got too unbearable. I was under no circumstances willing to give up
The Man Behind the Curtain
When I reached home, my parents devoted all of their time and energy to showing me the things that they had learned about Islam. I was taken off guard when everything they showed me was directly from the Qur’an and Hadith. I could no longer say that they were being lied to by Islamophobes. Before this I had not been exposed to the Medinah period writings, and did not know how to explain many of the cruel and violent things that I was reading. God knows I tried, though.
Every time I was told to read a new verse or narration I would read a few different translations of it, then read the surrounding text to get some idea of the context, and finally read different Tafsirs’ (books that interpret the Qur’an) interpretation of it. All along the process, I hoped to find the correct context of the verse, the one that would redeem it. Sadly, I was disappointed time and time again- especially when the Tafsirs’ interpretation of the verse revealed it to be even more cruel and violent than the verse itself had seemed. Nevertheless, I refused to give an inch and simply told my parents that I did not know what the correct meaning of these verses was but that surely there was an answer. They were unfazed as they asked me to look at the next verse… at which point the cycle would restart.
I guess my parents were trying to show me how evil the teachings of Islam could be, to prove that they could not have a divine origin. I simply would not allow myself to question the truth of Islam though, so all I could do was try to justify these evil teachings as good. I kept a growing list of concerns to ask my Muslim contacts, hoping that they would know the correct way to look at these teachings.
The first doubt that I admitted to myself was regarding a verse that my parents had not even shown me. While looking for context to what they had wanted me to see, I stumbled upon Surah 33, verse 53. The tafsir for this verse explained that it was revealed because some guests lingered in the Prophet’s house long after the meal was finished, which annoyed the Prophet.
“O Ye who believe! Enter not the dwellings of the Prophet for a meal without waiting for the proper time, unless permission be granted you. But if ye are invited, enter, and, when your meal is ended, then disperse. Linger not for conversation. Lo! that would cause annoyance to the Prophet, and he would be shy of (asking) you (to go); but Allah is not shy of the truth…”(33:53)
This just seemed too silly, and honestly like something that someone with multiple personality disorder might say. Would God really be concerned with the time that one spent in the Prophet’s house talking? If the Prophet must really be protected from all annoyance, then why not make his job easier and lead everyone to accept Islam? Would that not make a more significant difference in his life than restricting visiting hours at his home? Anyway, couldn’t Muhammad do that himself? It hardly seemed to fit God’s job description.
After having these sinful thoughts, I tried to admonish myself and take them back. It was useless. Once I opened the gate for doubt, all the evidence that had been building up in the denial storage boxes in my mind flooded into my consciousness. I began to see the man behind the curtain everywhere I looked. Within the same verse, Muhammad made laws that prohibited his wives from talking to men without a curtain separating them, and also made it unlawful for them to marry after his death. Since most of them were teenagers at the time, this seemed a very cruel ruling.
I grew more and more frustrated as I was unable to get satisfying answers to my questions. Websites that promoted Islam offered the same propaganda I had been fed and made no mention of the many doubtful verses that I had by this point accumulated. The few that mentioned them gave far from satisfactory explanations in an obvious effort to sugarcoat the truth. I emailed a friend asking about some of these verses. My friend forwarded my questions to a more religious friend. That person contacted their Muslim Chaplain, who then asked a local shaykh. I began to realize… the Qur’an is not clear at all. How can it be that God would send down a message to guide us, so unclear that we would need to rely on man to understand it? Even reading highly scholarly books of interpretation we would not have full understanding- we would have to obtain doctorates in religion and go to Medinah University it seemed to truly understand the “context”. Even then, educated scholars differed on many key issues. Just the existence of many Islamic sects was proof enough that there was great room for interpretation. So how could I know who had the right interpretation? I would have to pick one school of thought and pray that it was the right one (Muhammad said that out of the 73 sects that would emerge, all but one would be in hellfire… so odds were not on my side). I thought the whole point of God sending a message to humanity was to guide us all, not to create confusion as we are forced to follow corrupt and fallible men in their interpretations.
When the answers finally came back through the email chain, I wished that they had gone even farther up the ladder of knowledge. For example, I asked about a Hadith from Bukhari that states,
“If at all there is evil omen, it is in the horse, the woman and the house. A lady is to be warded off. And the Statement of Allah: ‘truly, among your wives and your children, there are enemies for you (i.e may stop you from the obedience of Allah)’.“
The answer that came back clarified that the translation here is hideous. What the Hadith actually intends is “a caution to man that he has great responsibility to the women of his family and if he doesn’t do what he is supposed to -to support them and give them their equal and just rights, that he will suffer.” The translation I obtained was from an Islamic site of Hadith books, so I wonder what Muslim translated “man must fulfill responsibilities to women” into “women are evil; stay away from them”. Hmm…
It was in these days of mental and spiritual turmoil that I received an email forward from a Muslim friend, announcing that a special date was coming up in the Muslim calendar. The Prophet had said that those who fast on this day would have all of their sins of the next year forgiven! Imagine that bargain… as long as you don’t eat during daytime of one day, you pretty much have a free pass to sin for a year. And if this happens every year… well I wondered what is the point of trying to be a good Muslim when all you have to do is remember to fast one day out of the year. This ludicrous idea did nothing to help me hold on to the faith that I was fighting for.
I tried prayer, and I tried silencing my doubts, but nothing seemed to be working. As a final desperate attempt to re-strengthen my faith I decided to research that one thing that had seemed so miraculous to me so long ago: Qur’an and Science. Previously, I had taken propaganda at its word and believed that the Qur’an truly talked of all these scientific discoveries long before their time. I was deeply disturbed when I actually examined these supposedly miraculous verses and found that most of them actually contradicted science! With great “analysis” and “interpretation” the scholars somehow played around with the language to try to make it agree with science, but even after all this work the connections were weak at best.
I started thinking about hell and the kind of place that it was, the kind of torture that took place therein. I thought of people who perform torture here on Earth, and how disgusted I was by them. The torture of hell was so much worse than any possible earthly torture, though. I wondered who deserved to go to hell and concluded that the answer was nobody. I would even have trouble sending someone like Hitler, who to me is the epitome of evil, to that place. But according to the Qur’an, all non-believers were going to hell. My sweet grandma who never did anybody any harm and prayed to the Virgin Mary every day…would be sent to hell. In fact, the same fate awaited practically everyone I had known before starting university. But I would never send even Hitler to that place. Did that make me more compassionate than God? That was impossible; a true God would have to be the most compassionate being in existence.
It is said in the Qur’an that Allah increases the disease of disbelievers, abandons or misguides them, and even seals their hearts. Contrast this with my parents’ reaction when I disobeyed them and converted to a religion that they did not approve of. They could have taken an easy course and either disowned me or accepted my decision without questioning it. Instead, their love was so strong that they dedicated all their energy and resources to bringing me back to what they believed to be the right path. How is it possible that my parents’ love for me is greater than God’s for mankind? It is not. A true God would have to be the most loving being in existence, and He would never give up on his creation or even worse misguide them!
The Truth Hurts… At First
Finally admitting that I no longer believed in Islam to myself and my family thrust me into the deepest state of depression that I have ever experienced. My world shattered around me and I lost even the will to live. I will not go into details about my experience in those first weeks, but only to say that it really speaks about the degree of power and mind control of this cult called Islam. I have the utmost respect for those apostates who were born Muslims; I cannot imagine the difficulties that you must have faced for your decision, both within yourselves and from those around you.
Thankfully, I had my family with me for support. Likewise, the Faith Freedom website was infinitely helpful; stories of other apostates helped me to feel less alone, and intelligent, well-written articles helped to quiet the guilt that tried to tell me that my sinning had led me away from Allah.
Some time has passed now, and I feel no sadness about having left this cult. I feel free and grateful to have been given a second chance at life. I no longer live with the mind-numbing tranquility that I had as a Muslim, but I am once again free to think for myself and live life as a real person instead of a robot- worse yet, as a slave to an ignorant and cruel man.
I knew that any future for Mahbub and I would be impossible if I left Islam and, though our relationship had no influence in my acceptance of Islam, the fear of losing him was definitely a major motivation to hold on to my faith near the end of that traumatic period. The end of our relationship has been difficult for me to handle, but I have come to accept that we want very different things, and we will both be happier making our own paths in life. It saddens me now to see how much he has changed for Islam… he no longer listens to music, watches dance shows or enjoys the same silly humor. I am sure he feels like a better person than ever for his devotion, and I think this is the great tragedy. I finally understand why he insisted when we met that he would only marry a Muslim woman- I was too innocent then to understand what being Muslim really meant, but now I say with confidence that I could never marry a Muslim man.
Most of my Muslim friends accepted my decision without any interrogation, and the ones that were close to me before my conversion continue to treat me with sincere love and respect. This is not the case for my very religious friend. I am afraid that the disappointment I have brought her, having failed Allah’s test for me, is too great for her to bear; after having treated me like a true sister while I was a Muslim, she now no longer talks to me. Likewise, a couple of Muslim male friends appear to disapprove of my decision, having also disappeared from my life. That is okay; I do not need these people in my life.
What do I believe now? I have not joined another religion, nor am I likely to. I don’t refute the existence of God, nor do I claim it. I accept that there are some things that I cannot know and that the mysteries of life are part of what make it beautiful. I believe in the goodness of people and the awesome power of our minds and hearts. I doubt the existence of an after-life, but I am in no way afraid of the possibility. In any case, I think for now I will focus on making this world and this life my paradise.
Thanks for taking the time to read my story. I hope that someone will learn from my experiences and avoid the same mistakes.