Imam Tawhidi’s Twitter handle: @Imamofpeace
Mufassil Islam – @mufassili
First Post, by Tufail Ahmad, November 10, 2016:
India is witnessing the emergence of a movement of ‘ex-Muslims’. Troubled by the involvement of Muslims in suicide bombings in primarily Muslim countries like Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, helped by the availability of alternative interpretations of Islam on the internet, and driven by a questioning mind, Muslim youths in India are gradually leaving Islam. Such youths — both men and women, and well educated — are typically in their twenties and thirties and describe themselves as ex-Muslims, atheists or cultural Muslims. They network through social media, Facebook and WhatsApp, often use anonymous Ids, and are based in towns across India.
Sultan Shahin, editor of the reformist website NewageIslam.com, says that there is no organised movement of ex-Muslims in India like it is in Western countries such as Britain, but some Muslims called him to inquire about real Islam. “I have spoken to 3-4 Muslims who have left five-time prayers. A lawyer in Delhi even convinced his father to leave Islam,” Shahin says, adding that many such youths browse anti-Islam websites and accept the jihadi discourse as real Islam.
“I see individuals coming up [on social media] and we know each other. I can say that I am one of them,” says Nadia Nongzai, speaking of ex-Muslims. Nadia, who is based in Shillong and holds a B Tech in computer science and a Master’s degree in economics, comes from a practicing Muslim family. “In school, I could not believe that the god [Allah] who is so great will not have a sense of fair play and will send all non-Muslim kids of my school to hell,” she says, questioning the Islamic teachings that non-Muslims will not enter heaven. She does not hesitate in describing herself an ex-Muslim. Asked if this could pose a security threat to her, she says she doesn’t hide her identity and adds: “I am trained in martial arts.”
Sazi Suber (name changed) was born in Saudi Arabia and raised there by his parents till 10. His mother, who converted from Christianity to Islam and returned to Christianity later, brought him back to Mangalore, where he was sent to a madrassa. Sazi now holds a BE in computer science and is working on an app for comic books. “When I came to India, I found dogs cute and lovable. My mother told me that playing with dogs is haram [forbidden by Islam],” he says about the first clash of viewpoint he had regarding Islam. In Islam, dogs are seen as unpious and Muslims are forbidden to keep them as pets.
Two years after coming to India, Sazi was attending a congregation in Mangalore where an Islamic cleric was telling Muslims on a loudspeaker to not accept water and food from non-Muslim homes. This came as a shock to him and he couldn’t reconcile with this idea. “It was like telling me to hate my mom who was a Christian. No child can accept this,” he says about the cleric’s announcement. It fuelled his questioning of Islam. “I started reading science. Islam appeared as a shock. The logical conclusion led me to think: this was not right,” Sazi, now an atheist and 27 years old, says, adding that he also began questioning as to why only Muslims were involved in suicide bombings.
Ashiq (nickname) is an electronics engineer based in Thiruvananthapuram. “I used to go to a madrassa. I read books from the library about science. I used to ask my teachers: Who created god? But the teachers wouldn’t respond to my questions,” he says, adding that they would instead say: “You are guided by Satan. They would call me Satan’s shadow.” Ashiq’s most piercing question to his madrassa teachers was: since a day can last six months in countries near the North Pole, when should Muslims break their day-long fast? The madrassa teachers did not have knowledge of geography. “The clerics beat me up for asking this,” he says.
“My friends would call me son of Satan. They wouldn’t play cricket with me. I was isolated. Only my mother was there to talk to me,” Ashiq says. He was also taught not to accept food from non-Muslims. “The clerics threw me out of class when I questioned them why they teach: Do not accept food from Hindus,” he says. Later, his mother advised him to somehow complete his studies and not ask questions because they will declare you a kafir (infidel). “For the next year, I did not ask any question,” he says. Now, he is 29 years old and has joined Facebook and WhatsApp groups to encourage scientific temper among Muslim youths. “We ask basic questions: Where did we come from? How was the earth born?”
Ali Muntazar, 27 years old and based in Kolkata, comes from a family of clerics. His grandfather and father were Islamic scholars. He does not practice Islam and uses terms like “revolutionist” and baghawti (treasonous) to describe himself. He doesn’t offer prayers on Eid or any other day and eats openly during Ramzan. Asked if he has run into trouble over this, he says: “I was nearly beaten up. But in India there is democracy; that is why I was saved.” He says he had a questioning mind since childhood, but his father’s friends, who were clerics, could not answer his queries satisfactorily. Ali Muntazar was troubled by the fact that the life of his khala (mother’s sister) was destroyed by triple talaq, the practice whereby a husband divorces his wife by uttering talaq (divorce) three times. He is bitter: “The first victims of Islam’s atank [terror] are Muslims themselves.”
Bohra Muslims are a sect of Shia Islam. A number of Bohra Muslim youths are leaving Islam at the level of ideas, though it is not easy for them to not be part of the strongly-mandated practices. A Bengaluru-based Bohra Muslim, who wishes to remain anonymous, says: “The Bohra community has a strong policy of ex-communication, which can have a strong negative bearing on their daily life and business. But within the community, there is a growing disquiet about the role of Syedna [the leader].” He adds, “Culturally, I am more of a Bohra rather than a Muslim. But I wouldn’t describe myself as ex-Muslim. I am not bothered personally, but I am afraid of repercussions for my parents, my business partner and our business.”
D Zafar, who is doing a PhD on religious fanaticism in English literature and lives in Moradabad, has performed Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. In his quest for knowledge, he read three translations of the Quran and has now left Islam. Local Islamic clerics could not answer his questions, and instead would threaten him: awam mein hamara ek byan tum ko murtad qarar kardega aur tum ko shahr chhorna padega (Our one statement declaring you apostate will force you to leave the city). Once the local mosque imam was about to publish his photograph declaring him murtad (apostate), which had to be resolved through political influence.
“We stopped talking about it [Islam]. We used to get messages that you could not teach Islam, but if you want to teach English, it is fine,” Zafar says, adding he was told by Islamic clerics: kafiron se door raha karo (maintain distance from kafirs). Later, he joined some three-night camps of the Tablighi Jamaat, a revivalist group, but some rival doctrinal groups persuaded him against this. Zafar’s basic point of difference was this: “The entire Quran does not mandate five-times namaz [prayer]. Some Muslims even offer only 3-time prayers.” He notes that there is no uniformity in prayers because there are 20 types of prayers among 200 doctrinal sects in Islam.
Major Rashid Khan, who has retired from military service, comes from an orthodox family that prayed five times and observed Ramzan. “When I entered college, I started thinking about Islam and the Quran. I realised that we were not allowed to ask questions about religion,” he says, adding that his intellectual thinking departed from Islam on the issue that the moon was split at Prophet Muhammad’s hint and also over the issue of the killing of over 700 Jews of Banu Quraiza tribe, who had surrendered before the prophet. He left Islam and was scolded by his father; his elder brothers stopped talking to him. “My brothers did so because they think Muslims can have no business with those who reject Islam,” he says.
Major Khan brought up his children in a free atmosphere. “When my children were around 8-10 years, I started explaining to them what definitions of god exist in different communities. I told my children: you are free to decide; I will never force you to accept any religion. I also brought Islamic teachers to teach them the Quran,” says he, adding that children as young as 3-4 are taken to madrassa and that there is a need to ban madrassas because they teach hatred of other religions through such concepts as kafirs. His children have evolved their own thinking away from Islam.
Arif Mohammad, a student of engineering in Bhopal, comes from a family of practicing Muslims. “I believe in Karma rather than god,” he says, adding: “Consciously or unconsciously, I began questioning Islam after Class 12 but there was curiosity about religions right from childhood.” Arif Muhammad describes himself as Indian and not as Indian Muslim. “I have noticed about 50 Muslims [on social media] who have left Islam but they cannot openly talk about Islam,” he says adding that some of these youths have left Islam because they do not want to become part of terrorism. “These Muslim youths prefer their cultural identity over their Islamic identity. “
Arif Mohammad also notes that in order to avoid security issues cultural Muslims like him choose their friends wisely because some friends do become violent. “Social media has helped such Muslims to connect with each other and to realise that there are people like us on the planet,” he says, adding that such Muslims are connected via Facebook pages of Iranian Atheists, Afghan Atheists and so on. He notes that there are many Muslims like him in Bhopal, Jabalpur and other cities. Regarding the movement of ex-Muslims, he says that it cannot emerge as a formal movement without a leader. This point is also shared by Ali Muntazar who stresses the need for a platform for ex-Muslims.
The stories of the above-named people are not isolated. It is indeed a trend that Muslim youths are leaving Islam in towns across India, but most of those interviewed here observed that there is also a rival trend of Muslims becoming more religious than they used to be. A few points that emerge about those who are leaving Islam: They live in fear of local Islamic clerics, they become isolated in their local neighbourhoods, their stories bring out the fact that questioning minds are not acceptable to Islam, there is a teaching of hate against non-Muslims by Islamic scholars and virtually every Islamic cleric considers himself as the ruler of Muslims. However, given the critical thinking emerging through these former Muslims, there is an urgent need for a platform for them where they can join hands, network and discuss Islam, more so since Islam is engaged in an eternal conflict with the identity of India as a civilisation.
Here are a couple of videos by ex-Muslims recently posted by Bill Warner on his Facebook page. Ex-Muslims are very well versed in the evils of Islamic doctrine.
Faisal Saeed Al Mutar is an Iraqi-born satirist, human-rights activist and writer who was admitted as a refugee to the United States in 2013. Wikipedia, Twitter: @faisalalmutar, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/faisalsalmutar/
Yasmine is an Arab-Canadian university educator who has recently written a memoir entitled ‘Some of my Best Friends are Jewish, and other confessions of an ExMuslim’. In it she describes how, even though she was born and raised in North America, she endured the same traumas that are familiar to Muslims across the planet. As a child, she was beaten for not memorizing the Quran. As a teenager, she was forced into a marriage to a member of Al Qaeda (after he was bailed out of prison by Osama bin Laden himself). And as an adult, she wore a niqab, and lived in a home/prison with paper covering all the windows. Yet, somehow, with nothing but a high school diploma and a baby in tow, she got out. Despite the dark themes, Yasmine’s message is one of hope to her fellow ex-Muslims.
Published by Hashim Almadani March 7, 2017
Vice News, By Imtiaz Shams, February 17, 2016:
The first thing you need to know about ex-Muslims is that the best term in Arabic to describe us is basically a swear word: murtadd, meaning someone who “turns their back” on Islam. The word has a dirty, spit-on-the-ground feeling to it, with a rolling “R” and a sharp drop at the end. This is where you need to start if you want to even begin unpacking the ubiquitous, systematic discrimination we face that can pervade all aspects of our lives.
One key form of discrimination is the erasure or downplaying of our experiences through stereotypes, the most common of which is, “You probably weren’t a real Muslim.” I spent half my life growing up in Saudi Arabia, travelling to Makkah every year for Umrah, a holy pilgrimage. My first book was a gorgeous red and gold-trimmed copy of the Riyad us-Saliheen, a compilation of hadiths (transmitted sayings and actions) of the Prophet Muhammad and his Sahaaba (companions). I’ve been praying, fasting and memorizing the Quran since as long as I can remember and would devour books proving Islam’s truth through scientific miracles and its moral code.
My family moved to the UK just before 9/11, and many Muslims will understand what I mean when I say the atmosphere changed after that day. At school boys gave me the nickname “terrorist” and to this day I still own a shirt where some of them drew explosives and bombs on my last day of high school. That discrimination didn’t affect what was then a deep and abiding love for Islam — it just strengthened it.
So what happened? If everything was geared towards me spending my life as a practicing Muslim, why would I leave? One of the key tenets of orthodox Islam is its perfect nature and the infallibility of the Quran, two claims I unwaveringly held on to for two decades. But as I grew older and my critical thinking developed, the accepted truths about the morality of the Prophet’s actions and the miracles described in the Quran got harder to swallow.
Watch the VICE News documentary: Rescuing Ex-Muslims: Leaving Islam:
I stopped believing mountains were “stakes” or “pegs,” protecting the Earth from earthquakes. Ironically, mountains are actually most common where earthquakes are most plentiful: in tectonic zones.
I no longer believed that Islam had come down to slowly phase out the loathsome institution of slavery. Instead I began to feel that the institutionalization of slavery in Islamic scripture under the auspices of “prisoners of war” allowed for millions of Africans and other non-Arabs to be taken as slaves by the various Caliphates, in some places exceeding even the horrific Transatlantic slave trade.
I had thought that Islam had given women equal rights to men, and this may or may not have been true if we were talking about 1,400 years ago. However, taken literally the same scripture can be used to reduce the inheritance and legal rights of women, enforce certain ritualistic clothing and practices on women but make them either a choice or non-existent for men, ban women from marrying non-Muslims but extend that right to men… the list went on and on in my mind.
Yet through all this I could not internally accept I had left Islam because I didn’t know I could leave. The very idea that one could be a practicing Muslim but then leave Islam was completely and utterly alien to me. I was finally forced to accept I no longer believed in Islam at the beginning of 2012, but I had no identity to go to and nobody who understood what I was going to speak to. My friend Aliyah described this stage as being like an “alien in your own skin,” and I felt like a complete outcast.
Another feeling that hovered over my leaving Islam was fear. Islam had presented itself as a complete and objective blueprint for my life, in charge of dictating my role in this world and my relationship to death and an afterlife. This left me believing that without the religion, even if I lived life making a difference in this world I would no longer be abd Allah, a slave of Allah, and thus my life would be aimless. It told me that that apocalyptic Yawm al-Qiyamah(day of judgement) would come when I would be judged as an apostate, one of the worst of sins, and put into Jahannum (hell). The language around hell in Islamic scripture can be terrifying — is it any wonder many new ex-Muslims have to cope with the anxiety it creates?
This period of fear and isolation did not last very long as I quickly found others out there when I stumbled on a Reddit group called /r/exmuslim. Suddenly I had access to thousands of active ex-Muslims, their stories, advice and experiences of discrimination. Almost all of these Redditors were anonymous because of the inherent physical and social risks to leaving Islam, so I began to reach out. I came up with a vetting protocol, carefully checking people out one at a time and hosting private ex-Muslim socials of sometimes up to 60 people. Sharing your story for the first time with another ex-Muslim is exhilarating, and there were so many of us to share with! Sure we still felt like aliens, but there were a lot of us aliens and we felt more comfortable in our own skin.
Around this time, I had a chance meeting with two gay lawyers who gave me some advice: what really changed for LGBTQ people in Britain was not just that they organized into communities but that they began to come out publicly. This resonated strongly with me so I joined forces with Aliyah Saleem, a feminist ex-Muslim activist, and we started what grew to become “Faith to Faithless,” an organization that creates online and offline platforms to promote apostate voices.
The very first Faith to Faithless event was a year ago at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). Although we had members of the QMUL Islamic society and some da’wah(preaching) groups leafleting our event, it was a massive success. Some of the ex-Muslims we met there have since spoken at other events. Although we received support from the wider public (including Muslims), we also received plenty of hate mail and abuse. I’ve had people spit on the ground and call me a murtadd, while insults to female Faith to Faithless speakers are always framed in disgustingly sexist terms. Even worse is that we’ve often been let down by the very people who should be helping us, including some feminist and leftist activists who have used racialized terms like “native informant” to describe us, undermining our agency as a minority within a minority.
As you would imagine, many ex-Muslims contact Faith to Faithless for advice or urgent help and have faced abuse in different forms. Some, although accepted as members of their family, are constantly told that they are going to “burn in hell” and should repent. Others are forced out into the streets with no financial support whatsoever. Some are physically abused, such as one ex-Muslim girl who was kicked in the stomach by her brother and then locked into her room by her parents.
It’s important to note that not all Muslims have treated ex-Muslims in this way. Some of the most important voices to me were my Muslim friends who privately messaged me giving me their support and love. We need to be able to stand together to fight both anti-Muslim and ex-Muslim discrimination, which can often go hand-in-hand. If you’re a young ex-Muslim who has left their faith and feels alone or isolated, get in touch. You are definitely not alone.
Follow Imtiaz Shams on Twitter: @imtishams
The Muslim Issue, July 6, 2015:
Ex-Muslims are being harassed, ostracized, threatened and played brain games on when they try to leave Islam.
The report description says:
Islam is the fastest growing religion in the UK, with the number of Muslims almost doubling in the last few years from 1.5 million in 2001 to 2.71 million in the latest census, 2011. A small but increasing number of people are also choosing to leave the religion and many say doing so has led them to be rejected by their family and friends and – in some cases – threatened with violence. Benjamin Zand spoke to ex-Muslims.
Islam has an enormous exodus of millions of people but because of the dangers of it, it’s not officially mentioned. Some reports from Arab Christian channels even claim over 300 million Muslims are secretly Christian converts.
PS: Pay attention to the footage taken from ENGLAND, not Rawalpindi or the Middle East. Look at the demographics! How can anyone imagine England will survive this volume of Muslim immigration? Should anyone imagine they can survive this infiltration it would be the only country in the world to survive Islamism in history.