I am an Arab-American woman from a moderate-Muslim family. Even though I was born in the U.S., I grew up mostly in the Middle East, then ended up moving back to the US for college. I have been here ever since. I am also a wife & a mom, and I have been a proud atheist since 2008.
Both my parents are educated professionals. They believe that you can have fun and live a good life while still following the basic traditions of Islam. We did not drink or eat pork, and my family definitely do not approve of people who did. My parents pray 5 times a day, fast every Ramadan, and absolutely believe that the Quran was given to us from god (using their own interpretation of course).
Generally, I had a pretty happy childhood. My family supported my hobbies and interests, which included playing sports (something many Arab girls don’t get to do). They were a little over-protective, but I still felt lucky that they were not as strict as many of my friends’ parents who were forced to cover and were not allowed to go anywhere by themselves.
One thing that was important to my parents was that we studied Arabic and Islamic. I had to take Islamic classes starting from kindergarten until I graduated high school. I am not an expert, but I know a lot about Islam and I am fluent in the Arabic language.
In school they made us memorize verses of the Quran and the Prophet’s sayings. I understood it, studied it and memorized it, but I did not understand why it was so unfair to non-Muslims and unbelievers. Being a “Kafir” (or an apostate) is considered the worst sin in Islam.
I always asked questions in class about everything and they always gave me some lame answers. When my teachers did not know how to respond, they would say “this is just the way god works” or “god works in mysterious ways”. You know… the typical cop-out answer in all religions. In Islamic class, they also taught us a lot about the Christian and Jewish religions so they can point out why they are wrong. They said that Christians and Jews all believe in the same god as the muslims, they just got a couple of things wrong. That is why god sent the prophet Mohammad, who showed them the new and “updated” book, the Quran. Or as I call it… “Religion 3.0”.
The “AHA Moment” – My deconversion Story
I always called myself a muslim, even though I didn’t really practice and I didn’t agree with much of it. I just considered myself a non-practicing muslim. I didn’t really put much thought into it because religion just didn’t matter much to me. I didn’t really think god would care if I were not practicing as long as I was a good person. I had to “pretend” that I was a good Muslim in front of other Muslims because it was such a big deal to everyone. I always felt uncomfortable in religious situations so I just avoided getting together with any religious family members and friends.
One day, a Christian friend of mine asked me what my religious views were. I told her that I was muslim, but I didn’t really practice or believe in much of it. She said “are you an atheist?”. I really didn’t know what to say to that. I pondered for a minute then said, “no, I don think so”… Then I realized that I never really thought of that as an option before, especially since most people that I know “picked a religion” or at least believed in some kind of god. I started thinking about what I really believed and why I believed it. I just knew I couldn’t be an atheist because I was always told that they are really bad people and I considered myself a good person.
At first, I believed that there was something out there but I didn’t think the religions got it right. I figured that most religions have the same general purpose, which is to be good (according to what their book says), and believe in some kind of god. And as long as we’re good, god would see it and we would go to heaven even if we don’t follow a specific religion.
Then one day it just hit me. How do I know a god even exists? If I didn’t believe in any religions or holy books, how do I know that their “higher power” existed at all. Science had a much better explanation of the world around me than having an invisible “being” in the sky. I finally had my “AHA Moment”. I started doing research, studying religion from an outsiders perspective and looking for evidence of any gods. And guess what I found… a bunch of BS. Every claim out there did not have a good enough reason for me to believe in any god or religion. That was it for me. I started seeing the world in a completely different way.
I enjoy life more without that feeling of guilt that religion gave me before. Life is so short, and as far as I am concerned, it’s all we are going to get. I try not to worry about the little things like I did before because it is a waste of time and energy.
I decided to start this blog for two reasons:
- I know there are many other muslims out there that are doubting their religion. They want to talk to someone but they don’t really have anyone to reach out to. There are many resources for ex-Christians, but not that many for ex-Muslims. I was lucky because my husband is very supportive and I was able to share my thoughts with him.
- I am sure many other atheists and people from different religions are curious about what it was like as a Muslim and how I see things now from an ex-muslim point of view.
That’s my story! If anyone would like to ask me a question or send me a message, feel free to contact me.