While I had written a testimony about my transition out of Islam to Quranic reform and then at the end to the reluctant acceptance of atheism (I say reluctant because I was disheartened to see everything I believed in was false), I didn’t really focus on what it was like for me as a Muslim. Do you think it is entirely possible to defend pedophilia, rape, unjustified murder, bigotry, homophobia, misogyny and the like and be totally unfeeling about it? The answer is no.
I must say you will get three types of Muslims. Ones who accept all the things mentioned above and do not think it is wrong at all. You will get Muslims (like I was in the past) who without admitting, will inwardly be embarrassed and horrified by these things, but will rush to make excuses and reasons for them. Finally you get Muslims who are so ignorant of their own religion that when they get presented with such evidence, they go into denial, accusing it of being fake, out of context or they turn a blind eye to it and pretend it doesn’t exist.
I was barely sixteen when I converted and I didn’t really get my first taste of what Islam was truly like until I met other ‘sisters’ in my new high school. Since I was fairly new to the religion I wasn’t aware of the extreme limitations upon women and thus dressed in a hijab with short sleeves and pants. Under a lot of peer pressure and spiritual blackmail I eventually transitioned myself to wearing long sleeve shirts, skirts or abaya. They thought I was insulting Islam by what I was wearing at first, but in reality it was simply ignorance. It was one of the first tastes I got on the Islamic community and how they treat converts. They are not very understanding or empathetic, but I didn’t let it bother me.
However I wasn’t really practicing. I understood that Muslims prayed five times a day, but I didn’t think it was a big deal that I didn’t pray. Surely, why would God be angry? He would know in my heart that I loved and believed in him. Sadly, it wasn’t the case. I was told all sorts of horrifying stories of what would happen if one misses their prayers. In fact just being late for your prayer earned you something like one thousand months to burn in hell.
From then on I prayed five times a day. I would get up early in the morning for Fajr, I would even pray at school and stress and become scared if I didn’t. My life was consumed by it. I could no longer focus on anything. Every day was simply a ritual of getting up and anticipating the next prayer as if my whole life depended on it. I was like a robot.
However while things like missing prayers scared the hell out of me, other things that Allah made unlawful didn’t. When I think back on it, the logic didn’t really work, but then again when you are indoctrinated by religion, reasoning and logic is often shut off. My sisters in Islam told me to stop waxing my eyebrows for Allah curses the woman who does this. I scrunched my face at the idea. A blood test when I was thirteen showed that I had higher testosterone levels meaning I would have a little more facial hair than the average woman so waxing was a necessity to me. I really did not want to look like a caveman so I ignored them for the most part.
Then I was told stupid things. One was that it was haram for women to shave because of the use of metal and iron in the razor. Well, why could men use it then? I ignored that too uncaring for the consequences in the afterlife. However fear of missing prayers still kept me devoted to Allah. Another harrowing problem soon presented itself. I wasn’t able to properly exercise because most exercises revealed my figure which was haram.
I couldn’t go running (can’t really anyway because I have asthma), couldn’t go cycling as that showed my figure and above all couldn’t go swimming. I was a healthy athlete, polo water player and squad swimmer before I converted to Islam. So I started to put on weight and a lot of it as well. By January 2011 I was bordering on ninety kilos (now that I have left I am back down to my ideal weight size ). The weight gain started making me depressed, but so was the religion. There weren’t many things I could do.
I could hardly wear makeup and nail polish because they had to be scrubbed off to do wudu and I had started to pick up a paranoid habit in prayer, thinking I had not done ablution properly and had stopped in mid prayer to start all over again. My grades in school started to slip. From earning one of the highest grades in year 10 and certificates of excellence in mathematics and history, my grades in year 11 were quite low. This was because I had stopped reading. I use to love reading, but all the books I loved were full of sex, drugs, alcohol, crime, kufr things. Things I should not read.
Nothing mattered to me more than Islam. It was all I clung on to and to me a lot of things in science were false so I did not allow such things to stimulate my mind. Fat, dumb and depressed at this point I started to study my religion with incredible hunger and found myself sorely disappointed. For one, I properly read the hadith of the marriage between Aisha and Muhammad and was horrified by what I read. I mean, I knew he had married a little girl and I had disgustingly defended this marriage before in the ignorance of biological and psychological development, but reading the ahadith only proved my fears that there was something very wrong here.
Of course when I asked my Muslim friends about it, they just explained that the English translations were not well written and it made grammatical and logical sense in Arabic. I consoled myself with that. Then I started reading ahadith of Muhammad raiding a pagan village and saying that the women and children were of the pagans and allowed to be killed. Inside I was deeply troubled by it and often turned a blind eye to it, but when in debates I was presented with this evidence I used excuses that the women and children were ‘armed’ and were part of the pagan ‘regiments.’
Stoning to death I also defended. It irked me inwardly of course, but any attack on my religion brought me so much pain. I explained that the harsh punishments of Sharia Law prevented crimes and set a precedent so other people would be discouraged from doing it. Later I found I was just lying to myself.
To explain further, inwardly as a Muslim I was disgusted by Muhammad and shocked by the things I read, but outwardly I had to do anything to defend and justify it for the sake of Islam. I suppose another hypocrisy was my unconditional love for Muhammad. Any slights upon his name often reduced me to tears, but I never felt such emotion when I heard Allah or any other prophet insulted. There was clearly something wrong with my priorities.
I really degraded myself as a woman. I accepted the fact that men had superiority over women and that the deficiency in my intelligence was due to my emotions hence my testimony in court needed to be backed up by another. I even made justifications for wife beating.
I don’t really remember how I broke the chain and bondage from Islam. I did come to the realization in 2010 that I wasn’t happy and there was something seriously wrong, but it was another two years before I left completely. I just thought some insight into the mindset would be helpful for those in the same predicament.
2011 was the year I spent questioning Islam and coming to Islamic reform. I also got a job in childcare. It was also the year my grades started to shape up and after January the weight began to drop. By the end of the year I had lost twenty kilos and I hadn’t even exercised, I was just ‘doing things.’ My grades were credits and distinctions in university and I was proud of myself. By 2012 I identified myself as an Islamic reformer and spent my time reading all sorts of books I could find and eventually after much deliberation found that the Quran no longer had a place in my heart. Neither did Allah.
I am just amazed how much my mindset has changed in the last five years. Of course from growing up, but also from leaving the chains of Islam.
I think in the end I had forgotten the most important thing and that was serving humanity. My life as a Muslim was nothing but a hypocritical farce. I spent too much of my time worrying about my individual salvation and gathering converts rather than helping those who were unfortunate. Now I serve a better purpose and that is humanity.