June 7, 2002
Islam has had a big impact on my life and my whole
family. I was raised in the
USA to a Christian mother and a Muslim father.
Both sides of my extended families are deeply religious, and both
would like for us to believe as they do.
So I grew up feeling torn as to what to believe.
Naturally, my father was more forceful of Islam, and wouldn't let
us make our own decision. He
instilled in us the fear of the Hellfire, but he also loved to describe
the many glories of paradise. While
these stories of heaven were nice, I just didn't buy into it.
I had too many questions, mostly about why this and that was haram,
and why it seemed like Allah wanted to prevent us from having fun.
My dad usually gave an answer straight out of the Koran, or
something somebody told him. I
was told that doubting faith was the work of shaytan, and that I should go
ask for forgiveness. I never
really received any satisfactory answers, so I just stopped asking the
questions and started to believe the way I wanted to, which was the way of
science and reason. For a
while, I humored my dad when he told stories, and went through the motions
of prayer and fasting, but my brother and I finally got tired of it, and
we sat down and told him how we really felt.
He stopped forcing us to practice, but it made him sad to see us
lose faith. Still, because of
his culture, he was always very protective (most would say
over-protective) and so in order to go out with friends from school, we
usually had to beg for permission or leave before he came home from work.
Begging did not always work, and was very frustrating, especially when his
only reasoning was "I don't want you to go". Going out behind his back meant facing the consequences when
we came home. He would be
very angry and shout, demanding to know where we went and who we were
with. He also yelled at my
mom for allowing us to go, and because she was usually sympathetic to our
side. I always felt guilty
for going places without telling him, but I also didn't think it was fair
that he should impose his culture on us so strictly.
my first taste of freedom when I went away to college.
There were all sorts of fun things I had heard about that I was
determined to try. I got
mixed up with drugs, alcohol, and girls.
I was enjoying myself as I never had before, but I didn't see the
bigger picture until much later. What
started as drinking socially at parties and clubs turned into sitting at
home and drinking with roommates, or even by myself.
I knew this was a sign of alcoholism, but it was not easy to give
it up just like that. To
support my drug habit, I started selling pot, which had disastrous results
when a friend of mine got held up at gunpoint by some gangsters.
Having sex was fun for a while, but it too became an emotional
realized I was just wasting my college years, managing average grades,
ensuring myself an average career. At
various times, I wanted to quit doing each of these things I mentioned,
but it was so hard, especially since I surrounded myself with people who
did the same things
11th really got me thinking. But
my thought process went something like this:
"Our government must have done some really horrible stuff to
these Arab countries in order for people who call themselves Muslims to
retaliate in such a way". I
went about finding out what the US military did in Iraq after the Gulf
War, and how our government supports the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
I tried to understand the rationale behind the first WTC bombing
and the bombing of the US embassy in Kenya. Although
I could never support an act of terrorism, I thought I understood why
terrorists must resort to such drastic measures. I put the blame on US foreign policy, and these terrorist
acts were the results of America meddling where it didn't belong.
I was feeling compassion for the people of Afghanistan and
Palestine who live in constant fear of military attacks.
I dismissed suicide bombers as the product of the increasing
frustrations in the Palestinian society.
during a rare moment of free time, I was walking aimlessly around campus,
contemplating life in general and questioning "what is wrong with
this world and how can it be fixed?".
I wanted there to be a way for everyone to just get along in peace
and harmony. What happened next, I later attributed to Allah's mercy, for
He had surely shown me the straight path. As
I was walking, I came across an old Muslim friend who I hadn't seen in
years, and we started to talk about Palestine, then I steered the
conversation towards the faults of American society.
He had an answer for every question I asked him.
Alcohol and premarital sex were not only haram to him, but they
contributed to why the divorce rate is so high, and why kids in America
are raised without family values or morality, then grow up to continue
this cycle. This made sense
to me, and I agreed with him. He
went on about the virtue of modesty, and how degrading it is to women that
Britney Spears is a role model for young girls, contributing to weight
disorders. Again I agreed,
and once again with the point that immodest behavior creates natural
desires within human beings, which in turn creates problems such as theft
and rape. I took it all to
heart, and put a lot of thought into what he said that day.
Though he never explicitly said, "Go be a Muslim like
me", I envisioned the world in an Islamic utopia, much like Malcolm X
described his Hajj. "This
is the answer I need", I thought, "this is the answer the world
needs". I immediately
quit drinking and smoking, then broke up with my girlfriend.
The next week I picked up a translation of the Koran and started to
read it. I also read Islamic
and anti-Islamic websites. That
Friday, our Muslim Student Association (MSA) was holding a meeting for
non-Muslims who wanted to learn about Islam, and so I went and I learned. What attracted me the most, over all the other teachings, was
the unity of the brotherhood and the kindness I witnessed.
That night I knew I wanted to revert to Islam.
home that weekend and told my father I wanted to be Muslim. I started praying five times a day and reading the Koran
every night. I was really
getting into it, and the feeling I got from being a servant to Allah was
better than any drug. I had
no temptation to drink or smoke, but it was still hard to resist the
"evils" of females, especially the ones on our campus.
I attended MSA meetings every week, listening to readings from the
Koran and watching biased presentations on Islamic countries. I was thoroughly convinced that I had made the right
decision, and never questioned my faith until I came across
the homepage and rejected the whole thing, because it was all taken out of
context. Fighting, killing,
and beating one's wife are to be done as a last resort, only if they are
first unreasonable in a civilized dialogue.
When I came to the 'Earth is flat' link, I was curious to see how
this could be pulled out of context as well.
I pulled out my copy of the Koran to verify the full passages, and
that was when I started to doubt faith and think rationally. The
commentary in my Koran were just lame attempts to explain the validity of
these verses. Once I accepted
that the Koran was most definitely not divine word, a lot of other things
started to make sense. I kept
reading about the life of Mohammad and it made me sick to my stomach.
I went through the shock, denial, confusion, and anger stages to
enlightenment in a few hours of reading through the articles and
testimonials. I wasn't sure
what to do.
next morning I was still in shock. I
didn't wake up and pray, but instead read another of Ali's articles. I decided I would not let myself revert to who I was before
Islam, but take with me the good morals I picked up, and leave behind the
rest. I still think there is
much good to be learned from the teachings of Mohammad and the Koran, such
as selflessness, modesty, honesty, and the importance of the family. I just simply cannot accept the whole book and its views on
slavery, women, and killing as something God would condone. The passages explaining the movement of the sun just go to
show how blinded by faith most Muslims are.
I hope that I would have rejected Islam after I read through the
entire Koran, but somehow I'm not so sure.
I have to thank Ali for making it clear.
mission is to solve some of the family problems that are going on at home
right now. My sisters stopped
believing a few months ago, and since then it has caused nothing but
trouble between them and my dad. As
protective as he was of me, he is ten times as strict with his girls.
My youngest sister, who is 14, took an overdose of pills because
she said she didn't want to live anymore if she couldn't have her freedom.
Social services got involved and now she mostly lives with her
friends. Now she thinks she
can do anything she wants, and she is acting just like I did when I broke
free from home. I'm worried
that something bad might happen to her if she isn't careful.
Most of all, I would like her and my dad to work out their
problems, but she doesn't feel like she can even talk to him. She is intent on keeping this new way of life and doesn't
even want to make an attempt at reconciliation.
My dad blames American society and her friends for corrupting her,
and she blames him for forcing his culture on her.
I have acted as the common intermediary for about a month, but I
didn't realize the full extent of the problem until now. One of them needs to make some changes, and I hope my dad
starts to understand her situation. I
blame Islam because it is responsible for my father's mentality.
In his head he is trying to protect her and thinks he's doing
what's best for her, but in actuality it only drives them further apart. It
will take some time, but with effective communication the situation in our
family will eventually heal. I
just hope readers pick up on the danger Islam poses, even in the best
intentions of a good, "moderate" Muslim like my father.
Ali, thanks again for your wonderful website.
of yet, I have not had the opportunity to sit down with any of my Muslim
friends and bring up these questions.
I am just pretty confident that they would come up with some way to
explain these doubts, however illogical they may be.
I also don't want the other MSA members to charge me with
"corrupting their minds" or something like that.
I am not the type of person to communicate well enough to be able
to win a debate, no matter how right the idea seems in my mind.
If I had some more knowledge about the history of Islam and the
life of Mohammed, I would like to sit down and have a discussion with a
few of my friends, and maybe later, with my father.
Do you have any advice for me?