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The Sun Won’t Swallow the Sky

One the many things I hope the wider world never discovers is my wikipedia search history. This is because, as well as a thirst for inanity, it also betrays all the grim, gory stuff I read about. Things I will feel no better for knowing, but have to look at anyway.

The other week, while looking for something else entirely, I came across a blog written by an ex-Muslim. I have been reading it avidly ever since.

Now, I am a Muslim, though one who falls into that category of being content with Islam and certainly very happy to have God in my life, but often displeased by the actions of certain Muslims. There is also the fact of certain events leaving me with a major distrust of most ‘authority figures’ in modern Islam.  

The thought of leaving Islam chills me. It’s not about the possible loss of my husband, the fracturing of my identity, as much as the thought of going back to having that empty space that my faith now fills. I did not like having that empty space, for me it was a world without a heartbeat.

There also the gasp factor around people leaving Islam.

This gasp factor is odd for two reasons:

1)I’ve known several people online leave Islam and at least one in real life. I am sure most people reading this have too. It is not that rare.

2)Until you get married and ‘settle’, converts are always being viewed as at risk of leaving Islam. Miss a few jummahs and people will quickly presume that you’re off being/with a crack whore.

This means we are too busy gasping to actually talk about why people leave Islam.

If we do talk about it, it’s soundbite-city.

“They didn’t know true Islam/ had weak faith”

“Other Muslims treated them badly”

“It’s all a plot and they we never Muslim in the first place.”

Then off course, there is the matter of our brethren who get all bloodthirsty when such things are mentioned.

Just to state the obvious here, death threats and hostile behaviour towards anyone is wrong and shameful. Yes, even if they are insulting Islam, because let’s face it, it will be the same half dozen accusations we have all heard many times over. Without seeming too obvious, but surely the best way to defend Islam, it to do good deeds and be generally lovely?

I digress.

The fact is this blog is detailed and very well written, showing someone’s gradual disillusionment with Islam and belief in God. I read elsewhere someone talking about this blog and they said they felt a lingering darkness reading it. Which is ironic, because the author would describe themselves as being very happy as an atheist.

I also felt this darkness and yet I cannot stop reading it. I think that is partly the odd compulsion to read something, even though it makes me feel uneasy and quite frankly, saddens me.

However, more than that, I read it because I think it is a viewpoint that we as Muslims need to hear. The blog holds up a mirror to our community and our discourses and the reflection is not what one might hope for.

People have always converted to and deserted from Islam, along with any other religion. Whether the numbers are rising or falling in either direction is difficult to define, and rightly so, as such matters are ultimately the property of our deepest selves.

So while what draws or repels someone from faith may be as unique as snowflakes, we as a community should not just look the other way, or mock.

Issues like:

  • Over-emphasis on marriage, coupled with atrocious marital advice (complete stranger marriages and marriage for papers in particular)
  • Obsessive legalism.
  • Lack of emphasis on building a relationship with God
  • Fixation with women’s roles. Not letting women figure this out for themselves.
  • Complete lack of awareness has to how soul-destroying marital abuse can be. 
  • Putting authority figures on pedestals.
  • Claiming that Islam is very simple (pre-conversion) and then immediately post-conversion, the new Muslim is no longer allowed to make any decisions without asking so and so first.

None of this is an exaggeration, and I’m sure that most of us have struggled with at least one thing on the list. So who is to say, apart from God, why some lose their faith and others keep theirs.

In general, I always come to the same conclusion and that is that we are just not kind enough to each other.

Maybe people would still leave Islam anyway, but they would do so without rancour, accepting it as something they explored, but found wanting. For those who find this too laidback, I would say that Allah takes care of the akhirah, this life is all we have in our hands at the present.

For those within Islam, kindness may save them so much misery and pain. And that is no small matter.

I’m struggling to conclude this, because what I saying really is a mountain of obviousness and yet and yet. Is in fact our lack of actions and poor behaviour a larger indicator of low faith then any blog entry by a former believer?