Why I left Islam
I am from Lebanon, I was born and raised as Muslim, as a young boy my father started taking me to our local mosque and taught me how to pray to Allah, here when the indoctrination started. My parents along with the Imam, told me many things, that just did not add up, that women who show skin are condemned to hell, I asked myself as a 5-year-old “These women are not harming anyone, then why would Allah punish them?” I also asked my parents: “Who created God?” They replied: “You are not allowed to ask this question, it will make step towards hell.” Imams also taught me about hell, it really scared me, and I got nightmares because of it, the concept of hell in Islam as described by most Imams would make an awesome horror movie. Ever since I was little boy, I am an individualist, I do not like people telling what to do and intervening in my personal freedom, I still am now.
However, my parents are open towards unorthodox views like they reject the Hijab, and don’t think that apostates should be executed, or adulterers/fornicators should be stoned, and think that honor killings are criminal. But unfortunately, they support blasphemy laws, and think that homosexuality is a mental illness and should be rejected by society.
On one hand, one of my maternal cousins is a member of The Committee of Islamic Scholars, this committee is socially authoritarian and want the government to walk all over other people’s personal & civil liberties in the name of Islam, morality, and traditionalism. A few months ago, when the Supreme Jurisdiction Council declared that homosexuality is fine, and that the state should not intervene with what people do in the bedroom, the committee got pissed off with the Council’s decision. The rest are pro-Hamas and pro-Muslim brotherhood.
On the other hand, my paternal uncle’s wife works for Dar Al Fatwa, a government institution run by The Grand Mufti of the Sunnis, the institution has political influence on government policy and is backed by Saudi Arabia, and the committee mentioned above.4 years ago, liberals, leftists, secularists, and feminists demanded the Lebanese Parliament and Government to legalize optional secular civil marriage, the Mufti scared the politicians by issuing a fatwa “Any Muslim politician , from the government, Parliament, or member Jurisdiction Council who supports secular marriage even if optional is an apostate. This made the politicians reject the demand, including Christian and Druze members. The rest of my father’s side is collectivist, tribalist, extremely traditional, they hate it when on their members marries someone from another religious sect, like Shia, Druze, Christian, or Alawite.
Lebanon, had suffered a devastating 15-year civil war from 1975-1990, it has damaged us socially, economically, and politically, and our Military, and gave rise to the terrorist organization Hezbollah backed by Iran. Lebanon is now divided into 4 major religious sects; the Sunnis, Shias, Maronite Christians, and Druze. Each of the 4 groups have politicians in the state, all 4 hate each other, and the politicians take advantage of the status quo to keep us fighting over ridiculous things.
I was not a very religious person, but at the age of 14 almost 15, my brother lost his job in UAE, and came to Lebanon in the summer, he used to very devout and dragged me to pray 5 times a day, I slowly started becoming more religious, by the end of the summer I devoted myself to Allah, suppressed my sexual urges but because of my raging testosterone levels, I still watched porn, masturbated to girls, and had sex with them, but I felt a sheer amount of guilt, and regret, I used to lecture my closest friends that they must not drink alcohol, have premarital sex, even shake hands with female, they got annoyed by me, and started hanging out less with me. But at the same time, I wasn’t feeling that I am being myself, I was repressive, consumed by those bad ideas. In geography class, we were discussing the universe, and the teacher said that the milky way galaxy has an estimated 160 billion planets , she also added that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe, I came to the conclusion that we may not be alone, and the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations is highly probable, I asked my Imam “ Our universe has hundreds of billions of galaxies, and every galaxy has hundreds of billions of planets, so according to the laws in probability in Math, the we could not be alone in the universe, Do you think extraterrestrials could exist?” His answer was : “No, that is a bunch of nonsense regurgitated by the evil Americans.”
At the age of 16 my devotion started slowly diminishing, but since I love The Simpsons, I started watching it more, through it I came upon Family Guy, and then South Park. I fell in love with the other two series, they were more than just comedy and satire, they were very well convincing. These shows make fun of everything, through this show I started being exposed to new ideas, even if I didn’t like them, also did offend me, I dismissed many of their arguments, but they did shed some light. But I couldn’t resist I still watch them more. One of the Episodes that made fun of atheism and evolution, when they explained evolution it made a lot of sense.
At the age of 17, I started losing my faith, I isolated myself in my room for a few days and asked myself these simple questions, “The Christian thinks I am wrong, so does Shia, and many others and I think Sunni Islam is the right one, what if they are right, what if the atheists are right, what if I am wrong?”
“If god is omniscient, why did he create satan, he knows certain people are going to heaven and other are going to hell, then why pray?”
“In the Koran, it written that God created life and death to test you, and judge you. But If life is limited, and the punishment and reward are eternal then why did god created us?”
“Why is religion geographical?”
“Why is consensual sex, masturbation wrong if they are harmless?”
“What is wrong with homosexuality?”
I remember as a young kid, that I was taught humans were the first creatures to inhabit the earth, but I discovered that there were dinosaurs and ruled the earth for hundreds of millions of years, and got extinct 65 million years. And the question from my childhood which was silenced “If everything needs a creator, and god created us then who created god? And who created god’s god?”. I decided that religion is bunch of bullshit created to control minds.
But I still needed to do further research, I started reading more about the universe, and evolution, watching more documentaries. I stumbled upon great thinkers Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Bill Maher, Stephen Hawking, and also atheist Youtubers like thunderf00t, TJ Kirk, Seth Andrews, DarkMatter2525, and. I found their arguments extremely convincing, encourage critical thinking, challenge adopted ideas, I did listen to religious clerics and had conversations with Pastors, Imams, Mullahs, Ayatollah I even watched Zakir Naik’s lectures, they seemed ridiculous, and unscientific.
I decided to read the Koran and The Bible critically, and I saw that these books are filled with unscientific claims, unethical, misogynistic, and homophobic bullshit. And above all else it contradicts itself. I also made an analogy, that Muslim majority and Islamic countries and dystopian and extremely backwards, and wherever there is Islam there is dysfunction. And look what is happening now in European countries they are now suffering from a security crisis.
From the 1920s to the 70s, Arabs, Persians, Afghanis, used to be much more progressive they got influenced by western culture and Attaturk who secularized Turkey, the hijab was rare only older women wore it, Arab women used to wear bikinis and short skirts sexual harassment & rape were almost nonexistent unlike now in Egypt. Saudi Clerics nagged former Arab & Persian leaders to control what women should wear, but Arabs ignored them. Arabs used to go to European countries to earn their degrees. After overthrowing monarchies and Fedualists, the middle class was established because of free market capitalism, and they ruled the Arab world holding progressive and liberal values. But soon after KSA started getting rich with oil Arabs started going to work there coming back with regressive and reactionary values about the world since the 80s. In addition, the Muslim brotherhood gained more influence. Making Arab culture become one of the most backwards in the world. Plus, the Islamic revolution of Iran also affected us negatively which gave birth to Hezbollah triggered by Zionism, and western neo-conservatism.
And what really pisses me off is the western regressive left, feminists, and social justice warriors defending Islam and telling others that “The hijab is liberating”, If someone mentions that atrocities against women and gays in the name of Islam or Islamic countries they will reply “But it’s their culture”, and what is worse is that in the women’s march almost everyone was cheering for Linda Sarsour who wants to bring Shariah (Islamic Law) to America which is anti-women, and homophobic. By the way Sarsour means cockroach in Arabic.
I now I am an atheist, the de-facto kind, I don’t agree with religion or the hijab but it can be helpful to the unfortunate providing some escape fantasy, and hijab can sometimes protect from the scorching sun.
In conclusion, yes Christianity is bad, but Islam is Christianity on steroids.
PS: Excuse my English, it isn’t my first language. Thanks, in Advance.
That's quite a story and also quiet a journey. Both Christianity and Islam are way off track. It's hard for those who are indoctrinated to see that getting others to all see religion their way is nonsense. It will never happen. Much of religion is cultural but does this mean we have a cultural god? How many gods are there? More rightly it means that we have no evidence of gods from anywhere. Those that make god claims want to have all the answers. None of us have all the answers. It's OK to say that you do not know.
I came from a part of Christianity that calls itself Pentecostal. Today I can no longer believe it than believing in a man in the moon. Gods are imaginary.
Thanks, I relate a little bit to former Christians, but the closet ones are former Evangelicals. Many Americans and Brits told me that Evangelical Christianity is the like the Wahabist/Salafist version of Christianity.
Jaber -- if I may call you that? Thank you for a post which is both analytical and self-exposing. After reading every word (before breakfast even!) I feel I almost know you.
Welcome to this group. Please feel free to post anything you wish to write, and to comment on the postings of others.
You say you are "from" Lebanon. Does that mean you are elsewhere now? I hope you are in a more free country where your liberal ideas do not put you at risk. Muslim countries need intelligent, thinking, questioning young leaders, but those countries put their lives in danger out of fear that those ideas will take hold. I worry about young men and women who have figured out the Big Lie that is religion and, by speaking the truth, put themselves at risk.
I look forward to reading anything you care to post here. I'm glad you're one of us.
Thank you, you made my day.
No, I still am in Leb, but the thing about Leb is that it is the lesser of the evils in the MENA region, I am also open about it around my friends and a couple of my family members especially my brother who used to be a fundamentalist Muslim, now he is an agnostic. (I will get to that later). I also joined a movement back in 2015 in response to the garbage crisis I attended their meetings to debate our methods of direct actions and organizing rallies. I befriended them, it turned out that most of them are atheists and agnostics and diests. I live in a fairly progressive area, we have pubs and nightclubs , women wear whatever, there is some infuence from The Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party, and the Communists, and American Universities are close to my area they are spaces for intellectual debates, and people are free to exchange ideas, and professors encourage discussions on controversial issues. Many times American universities hold seminars, panel discussions, debates, and lectures and most of the speakers hold fairly progressive values,
Yes I definitely agree with you that the Arab world needs intellectuals, independent thinkers, and muslims should be encouraged to question the status quo. But the problem is that Muslims are dogmatic, they fear criticism of their ideas, and Arab leaders are willing to use violence to silence any person who disagrees with them, yes we do have the American University of Beirut & Lebanese American University but they are highly priced, and this is problematic for us to advance our culture.
The Arabs were advancing and moving forward until the Wahabis & Salafists , the Iranian Revolution hijacked our cultures in 80s they took us back to Medieval times.
Jaber, there is nothing more dangerous to religion than someone who has a penchant for asking questions ... and the one thing I note in your piece is lots and Lots and LOTS of QUESTIONS!
To which I say, TERRIFIC! KEEP IT UP! And also, greets and welcome to Atheist Nexus!
I very much appreciate your post. I live not from south park in Colorado. I am American and ignorant about Islam and the Middle East. I do try to study and understand it as much as possible but it is no substitute for real piece experience. This being said I was identified exactly with the experiences you wrote about. I could not help but think as different as our cultures and countries are with different religions how is it that it seems I went to the same Mosque? Did I go to church with this guy and not know it? Somehow I was really able to identify with your struggles. I can only come to the conclusion that religion is a universal poison that affects all human beings. Again thank you for sharing your story.
Don't worry about me I'll be fine, this a pseudonym