Why I left Islam
There are many reasons to leave a religion.
There are many reasons to disbelieve in gods. Doing either doesn't necessarily mean one will jump straight into bed with a replacement. It can also be liberating life experience. It doesn't have to leave a religion shaped hole that needs filling. It can set you free to just explore yourself and the universe and take it as it comes. To expand and breathe life unchained.
Some people don't even have any kind of emotional attachments to religion, instead having practical or social attachments. Any of these kinds of attachments can be replaced. But you're not going to put much thought into finding a replacement if they are still holding your attention.
Islam never really held my attention.
I always found myself out of synch with it. Praying was boring, fasting was uncomfortable, the structured rule set was frustrating and claustrophobic, often ridiculously arbitrary.
When I asked questions, my curiosity was met with trite answers that left me unsatisfied, left me wanting, left me cold. Programmed platitudes, clichés and canards that rang insincere and hollow to me. And that was on a good day when the answers were somewhat constructive.
It was more often than not a harsh, impatient and stifling condemnation of the mere idea of questioning such things.
The divine directives just didn't sit right with me either. I saw the abuses and injustices that were a manifest result of them, not only to me but to others, and this vexed me. Like a splinter in my brain.
All this was compounded by the overbearing masculinity of Islam. This is a man's religion. This last point troubled my conscience perhaps most of all. Long before I actually did any reading or investigation into the rationale of how things came to be this way for me.
I wouldn't describe my deconversion as an emotional expulsion of religion. I think it was a practical, sensual thing. Islam smelled like bullshit and the trail of evidence pointed away from Islam. You start doubting one thing and it starts a chain reaction. It's like a game of Jenga – you start removing blocks and eventually the little tower becomes so unstable that it collapses. I was an unbeliever even before I realised what one was, simply by ongoing practical deduction. But there was no "Eureka!" moment. There was no BOOM! I am an Atheist! It was a complete non-event – the end of an organic, gradual process. The result of largely an unconscious effort. A by-product of being a student of life. Of being curious. Of being unwilling to stop thinking.
Some people are just not born to be Muslim. Some people have a wilder lust for the world and an animal 'fear of the trap' that makes resistance to systems of life like Islam part of their very being. And that's perhaps more typical of adolescence than adulthood. Maybe I got out just in time, before I made a terrible compromise to my existence. I can't really speak for emotional attachments in this case, but I can maybe explain why Islam is not even remotely attractive to me except maybe as a chew toy when I’m bored.
First, the theological claims of Islam have been proven to be false again and again by people much more informed and eloquent than me. Simply by its own internal inconsistencies and fallacies as a work of literature, the Quran is self-refuting. Poorly written, poorly structured, profoundly lacking in original insight and depth, contradictory to the point of needing its own ad hoc system of abrogation, it is a featherweight compared to equivalent works in other traditions. Keep in mind that the Quran is allegedly the unaltered words of a god, verbatim. So sure are Muslims of this that they have fetishised the Quran to the point of becoming a self-parody. To the point of having an existential crisis (and sometimes even to the point of violence) if it is defaced or disrespected.
The Quran only makes matters worse for itself by being such an arrogant work. Making bold claims of perfection, challenging its reader to find better; "Whoever denies it, let him produce a similar one.
" The human authors of Islam painted themselves into a corner by proclaiming it to be no less than the Final Testament from the God of Abraham, and further, that Mohammed was the seal prophet, appointed to confirm, correct, complete and give closure to the prophesies that came before. It's an incredibly conceited and short-sighted thing to do, but quite understandable when you take into account the apocalyptic doomsayer culture it was born from, authored by those who thought the world would end ages ago, perhaps even in their own lifetime. And of course, it didn't end. And so, the supposed measure of divine wisdom revealed in the Quran uncannily resembles the superstitious and ignorant views of the men of that period, frozen in time.
The authors of Islam have essentially tied their own hands and, by extension, the hands of future Muslims – trapping them in a rigid narrative prison with only limited source material to draw upon. This is the price to pay for writing the final words of God in the dark ages. Slim pickings indeed.
Hence why so many Muslim careers have been made on spin and mitigation, bogus philosophy and pseudoscience, trying to find or manufacture hidden meaning behind exhausted and defunct lines of text that have simply not aged well, trying to exploit the wiggle room in its more ambiguous verses. We end up with the so-called scientific miracles of the Quran, various strained numerology attempts and desperate pattern seeking. It's all so forced and contrived.
A sad and pitiful attempt to keep the Quran relevant in a world that's already moved on.
Maybe millennia ago when books were simply not available the Quran might have stood out as the most profound and pertinent thing heard in that region, but what are people's excuses these days? You can walk into any library or bookshop and take a random book off of the shelf and prove this point: the Quran has not stood the test of time. It has been outshined, outclassed, outmatched by superior written works. Superseded and even preceded by great poets and orators who have already said any of its meaningful content a thousand times in a thousand ways, and conveyed it more eloquently and succinctly.
In the grander scope of the world stage, the Quran relies almost entirely on its exotic and foreign flavour to lend it any mysterious power. And this exotic allure has been taken hostage by Muslims. God, apparently, only speaks in Classical Arabic now. The Quran cannot be translated. It is no longer the Quran once translated.
The Message for all people and for all time, the perfect and Final Testament of God, that shines clear and evidently true to all, unaltered since its original revelation, on which the fate of our immortal souls rest upon, can only ever be understood in an ancient Middle-Eastern regional dialect. This is layer upon layer of absurdity.
What exactly is the Message? What could be so important that the Grand Architect of the Universe took time out of its schedule to communicate with humanity for the very last time? What's all the boasting about?
Never before has one boasted so much about so little.
A mediocre oral tradition, at best, which pertains only to a small province of a single planet over a narrow span of time, that cannot even remain relevant in that short timespan without abrogating itself.
Annals of petty local feuds, regional drama, and the defunct tribal taboos of an ignorant culture that thought the earth was flat. Randomly interspersed with reworked myths. Doubling as an instruction manual for holy war and a constitution for the mundane micro-management of a growing empire and future conquest. Marketed primarily to secure the interest and loyalty of fighting men, wherein it divides spoils of war in great detail, blesses the taking of sex slaves, screws women over for eternity, ultimately promising a paradise men's club for the obedient and diligent, tempting them with superficial material prizes and wealth and, of course, puts a little extra aside for the main player, Mohammed.
Now, I love a good myth. A good saga. Larger than life characters, heroes and villains, champions and monsters, love, honour, bravery, tragedy, deceit, epic swashbuckling human drama. Good old fashioned storytelling really lights me up. In Islam, mythology is a cheap knock off. What the authors of the Quran have managed to do, in the process of plagiarising and cannibalising every tradition that came before, is to ruin great myths. And its biggest crime is surgically removing any modicum of humour from them. Sterilising them to fit in with The Plan.
It has a complete inability to laugh at itself. Islam is where great myths go to die. It is a graveyard of broken myths. One seeking true adventure would do well to follow the trail of breadcrumbs back to the originals it has stolen from. See for yourself the hatchet job those ham-fisted bastards did. This plagiarising is common to its sibling Judeo-Christian religions too. But at least the Christian mythology has the trippy, malaria-fever odyssey of the Book of Revelation. And the Gospel According to John (KJV) kinda reads like a fireside story if you squint your eyes a bit.
What about philosophy in the Quran? Here is what I can write about the philosophy in the Quran: Nothing. There's nowhere to start. Islam is philosophically sterile. It's almost as though philosophy didn't even exist as a great tradition hundreds of years earlier, almost like Islam evolved in a philosophical vacuum. The measure of its failings is revealed when any analysis of the Quran is cross referenced with superior works, some even older. Side by side, we see a child's finger painting next to the Mona Lisa. It's almost funny. What a pathetic, infantile stab in the dark at philosophy Islam offers us. What kind of unfortunate and simplistic proto-mind can be satisfied by it? What appetite do I have that otherwise intelligent and respectable Muslims do not? It is a mystery to me. I am literally baffled at the hold these desert fairy tales have over people to this day. How amazing it would be if something so vapid and mundane would placate my wondering mind.
As a system of life Islam takes so much from you. It takes from you and gives back nothing you can't drink elsewhere from cleaner streams. You're diving for pearls in poisoned waters. It traps Muslims in a rigid spiritual prison.
A good, subservient, observant Muslim has her or his spiritual journey restricted by the ruleset of Islam. It is not only restricted, but ruthlessly policed by an all seeing eye. There is the overbearing knowledge that you will be judged according to a specific and set standard. You are held back. You are compelled in some cases to fight against your own good conscience, do things no good person should do, for no other reason than: it says so in a book I think is awesome. Like the wise man Jason Bourne once said, "Do you even know why you're supposed to kill me? Look at what they make you give."
As an institution, Islam is systematically responsible for some of the worst human rights violations in the world. It is no coincidence. These things don't just happen to be occurring in Muslim nations. These are the logical conclusions of the directives of Islam, the divine will of a fantasy war god that ancient clerics and superstitious folk decided to name "Allah."
These things are the cornerstones of its tradition: subdue, suppress, assert, aggress, spread, dehumanise opposition, demonise dissent, sustained by the unwavering and chauvinistic faith in the ascendancy and supremacy of a chosen people. And the sum of all this is vomited out into the world as a political and social movement that opposes democracy and liberal, free-thinking and freedom of expression, with the sole aim of replacing it with an unquestioned and unchallenged totalitarian ideology. This is something I would not want to believe in, support, or swear allegiance to, even if it were miraculously and irrefutably revealed to be of divine behest. Even if Allah himself descended from his throne and wrote proof of his existence across the sky, I'd distance myself from the ponzi scheme as a matter of principle.
I honestly don't think I ever did manage to rationalise the immorality in the Quran. As soon as I actually found out about Mohammed and his sleazy, violent, entitled and indulgent life, the spell was broken. Utterly and irreparably. How anyone with a working conscience, a love of humanity and want for equality and respect can read about the life of Mohammed and remain impressed – or worse, in full awe of the man – is a mystery to me. Especially as a woman. The more I learned about the Prophet, the more I found him repulsive even for a man of his time. That, and reading the Quran itself. So many obscene verses and unjustifiable commands that it's impossible to remain enchanted once seen. Magnified a thousand times in the context of an abusive environment, experiencing first-hand the fruits of that toxic manual. I don't think it ever occurred to me to rationalise it, only to dream harder, make plans for my own destiny and escape that physical and emotional prison.
I flirted with Islam again when I was a little older. With the mindset that, while disgusting and polluted and anathema to real humanity, perhaps there is some deeper truth missed by the misogynist, the supremacist, the predator, the charlatan, who use that book to such great effect. This was at a point when I seriously needed spiritual and moral guidance. But there was none to be found in Islam. Spiritual guidance in Islam is only to be found in those unique individual Muslims who have a very generous and selective interpretation of its traditions. Ones who put being a good person first before being a good Muslim. Good despite Islam, not because of it.
So ultimately, I was faced with that choice of being a good person or being a good Muslim. A human being cannot be both in my eyes. These two things are at opposite ends of the scale for me.
To be an obedient, observant Muslim, you must sacrifice your humanity. You must surrender to a divine will, swear honest fealty to it, without doubt, without questioning. To be a good person you must not only renounce many of the central tenets of Islam, but you must also openly oppose them, wherever they manifest in the world. Then, and only then, can you claim to be a good human with me.
Or, you can compromise – live some kind of half-life, a contradictory creature, torn between faith and your own conscience, drifting this way and that amid your own confused and unbalanced inner equilibrium, fooling yourself that you are free, and valued, and precious to non-existent higher power.
You can pretend that you love an unlovable god, pretend that such a hateful god could ever love you, try to salvage some validation and purpose, some salvation from a book that gives you a little and then takes a lot more. All the time harbouring a self-loathing, a deep rooted knowledge that you are a slave to that same higher power, with your mind shackled and your heart held back from true human interaction, under his ever-present gaze and scrutiny.
That's no life for me. That isn't living.
The more I pulled away from that hideous Abrahamic concept of a supreme god, the more alive and vital I was in this gorgeous universe. I was free to be me, the person inside, perfect with all my flaws, comfortable in my own skin, no longer a mind-slave to the dark age ideologies imagined up by sadistic and insane monsters of history, no longer led along by the nose like cattle, no longer living according to the dogma spelled out by long-dead fools whose ideas belong in the graveyard of failed human endeavours, throwbacks to the infancy of our species. The umbilical cord that holds back the ascendancy and mastery of our own spirits and minds must be cut. We've crawled along on our belly for too long under religion. We should be walking on our own by now, running by now. We could even be flying by now.
There are better role models in this beautiful world than the so-called Prophet. There are better contributions to the knowledge of the world than the cancerous, poisoned chalice known as the Quran. There is better wisdom out there to find, to add to your own spiritual alchemy, better philosophies, better revelations, better discoveries, better poetic and artistic expression, better hopes and dreams to be had, better love and passions, a much richer, fuller existence – all eclipsed while you are under the black cloud of Islam. Better religions, even.
Everything good that is in me is from elsewhere.
There were times when I almost hated Islam for the life it denied me for so long, never knowing my potential as a member of the human race. I know that potential now. I can taste it, feel it, appreciate it like never before. I penetrated that black cloud like the chick breaking out of the egg. It was like opening my eyes for the first time to a whole new alphabet of feeling and emotion. Like seeing in colour after a lifetime of black and white.
I reject Islam wholeheartedly. I made my choice. I chose to try and be a good person instead of trying to be a good Muslim. The main symptom of doing so was feeling the weight lift off as each and every facet of Islam fell away from me. I have learned I no longer have to surrender my body, mind and soul to the god of the Prophet's desires, dreams and delusions, and I have realised that I wont be punished for made-up crimes in an imaginary afterlife if I choose not to surrender.
I'll never go back to Islam. Never. I would be a fool to even entertain the idea. I've shed my skin already. My journey has only just begun, my journey of life, with new blood running through me, new verve, new growth, new days, and new hope for the first time – true, tangible hope and possibilities. And with Islam in my rear-view mirror, I have no shame for who I am. No pity for myself, no more fears, no more tears and no regrets. Tried, tested, built to last. The sum of my parts.
This journey of life I am forever grateful for and I can't begin to describe how excited I am. I can only show those close to me, those making the journey with me. And to those who accept me for who I am and what I am, I will share myself; naked, unashamed, with arms wide open.
Written by: Ishina
, for the CEMB blog.