Leaving Islam







Jamal D

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. 

  I got 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 addiction.

 I 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 

  September 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. 

  One day 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. 

  I went 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 faithfreedom.org. 

  I read 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. 

  The 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. 

  Now my 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. 

   As 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? 

Jamal D


Ali Sina Responds


Dear Jamal 

Thank you for your wonderful testimonial.

Now as for your desire to speak with your friends, I strongly discourage you doing so. There is no need for you to destroy your relationship with your friends and relatives over your beliefs. Your thoughts are personal and I do not think it is a good idea to reveal them to others. If you want to help other Muslims, which I earnestly suggest you should, you can use the Internet and write about your findings. If you speak about your beliefs to your friends, you not only would risk loosing your friends but you could be even harmed. The Internet is the safest place to educate Muslims about Islam. If you talk to your Muslim friends about this site, they may read your story, find out about your “apostasy” and you could be in danger. 

Now as for your concern about morality: Please know that morality has nothing to do with religions. Morality is a personal choice. One can live morally or immorally whether as a believer or as an unbeliever. It is a sad thing that morality has become a hostage to religions. People who convert to religions often need someone telling them what they should and what they should not do. They are people of weak character who are unable to make personal choices. But in final analysis it is they who through their own decision and will power do what is right. Rejecting religion does not mean rejecting morality. 

The sad thing is however, that the over zealot parents impose so much pressure on their children, that as soon as the belief in religion is vanished and the pressure is lifted, that child goes to the extreme and by breaking the norms of morality, that in his mind is linked tp religion from which he want to break away, he experiences a sense of freedom. Therefore breaking the codes of morality become synonymous to liberation from the oppression of religion. This is yet another one of the harms of religion. The truth is however, that morality is independent from religion and by rejecting religion one does not have to abandon morality.  

When you speak with your younger sister, you should tell her that she is free to make choices in her life. But she should be aware that her life would be affected by the choices that she makes. One should not live right for the sake of a deity but because by living right one will live a better, happier life. Abuse in drugs, alcohol or sex, do not offend God, but they hurt us. Suppose there is no God at all to punish or reward us, should we destroy our lives with that knowledge? 

By rejecting religion one does not become enlightened. It is by assuming responsibility that one can claim to have reached maturity. The difference between a religious person and an enlightened person is the difference between a child and an adult. While the former needs guidance and cannot make right choices on his own, the latter does rely on his own judgment and lives a moral and an ethical life without the need of being told to do so by someone else 

Take care 

Ali Sina





Articles Op-ed Authors Debates Leaving Islam FAQ
Comments Library Gallery Video Clips Books Sina's Challenge

  ©  copyright You may translate and publish the articles posted in this site ONLY if you provide a link to the original page and if it is not for financial gain.