Representing One Ex-Muslim Is Better Than Representing None

In conversations regarding the lack of representation of ex-Muslim voices, I’ve come across a lot of people willing to guess at and speak for ex-Muslims. When I ask that they let the actual ex-Muslim in the conversation (i.e. me) speak, I’m told that I don’t represent all ex-Muslims.

Well, yes. But frankly, at least I’m not a never-Muslim speaking completely out of my arse.

At the conclusion of last year’s SSA West Conference, some of us were called onto stage to talk about a person we were happy to have met as well as something we were taking home with us from the conference. I mentioned an ex-Muslim student I had met. I also mentioned how happy I was that there were more and more people like him popping up as competition for my speaking slots as an ex-Muslim.

Though the phrasing of the latter part of the statement was tailored to elicit laughter (and it did), I really did, and do, mean it. I don’t want for me or anyone to be considered the ex-Muslim. I want for the rich and varied tapestry of views, backgrounds, and experiences that I am privileged to witness every day with the EXMNA group to be something of which not only EXMNA members are aware. I want for everyone to know that we ex-Muslims are people. Not props for one argument or another, not tragic and pitiable caricatures, not tools of “taqiyyah” or “Zionism”, but fully-realized, multi-faceted human beings.

I’m very much in agreement with the statement that I don’t represent the views of all ex-Muslims. Indeed, I cannot. Just as I oppose the myth of the ex-Muslim monolith, I am not a fan of being positioned as some kind of mouthpiece for all apostates of Islam. I’m happy and proud to be among an ever-growing number of known, named, and out ex-Muslims. I’ll be even happier and prouder when more and more of our voices are represented, especially on matters that are about, for, and by us.

Until then, when I see someone trying to speak for us or over us, I will do my best to be heard and, if feasible, have others be heard. I will not allow people to guess at how we might feel and excuse it by pretending as if their voice is equal to mine on ex-Muslim matters. I will not stand by as never-Muslims position themselves as the mouthpiece for a group with a history of being silenced by both Muslims and non-Muslims.

I may not represent all ex-Muslims, but for now, at least I can represent a single ex-Muslim. When it comes to the representation of marginalized groups, one is far, far more than none.

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Representing One Ex-Muslim Is Better Than Representing None
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One thought on “Representing One Ex-Muslim Is Better Than Representing None

  1. 1

    I absolutely love this blog by you, Heina. As with every other movement or marginalized group, I do not think anyone ever is really able to speak for everyone. I find that the whole, “You don’t speak for everyone” is an argument often brought up by those who wish to discount your individual voice, for your own self. But they can’t be up front and say, “We simply don’t care about you.” So they pretend they care about the “everyone” that you do not speak for. And, anyway, we need stories of individuals and individuals with different stories, not some individual with super natural powers of being able to speak for thousands and millions of people. It is the diversity in voices and stories that makes it all so beautiful after all.

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