A version of this post originally appeared as a comment in a certain secret apostate group on Facebook.
I left Islam publicly and officially in late summer of 2006. While I don’t regret the move, I wish I had known at least some of what I know now. I currently benefit from hindsight enough to comfort, maybe even actually advise, my younger self or others in a similar position.
Here is a very specific list of Things I Did, divided into Helped and Didn’t Help.
Warning: If you’re anything like me, the first thing that did help is going to annoy you. Continue reading “Advice for the Newly-Apostized (or My Past Self)”
I’ve not been as active as I had in a while, so to get myself back on track, I’m going to start the Haramadan Chronicles in this Year of Migration 1436*. I’m going to be reflecting and writing, facetiously and seriously, here and on other outlets, on my history with the Islamic month of fasting and its accompanying traditions, rituals, and routines. Dedicated self-reflection and ritual are the only aspects of Ramadan I have truly missed; now that I’m fairly comfortable with my apostasy, there is no reason for me not to give that part of it a whirl again.
Making this especially fun is the fact that my Hijri birthday is the 5th of Ramadan, my partner Danny‘s is the first of Shawwal (aka the day of Eid ul-Fitr), and he is going to be experiencing Ramadan and Eid firsthand for the first time this year.
Some reading to get you started:
* That is the year right now according to the Hijra calendar, which is a lunar calendar based on the year Muhammad reportedly migrated from Makkah to Madinah.
Content Notice for Eating Disorders
While you may have given up Islam, are there any trappings of Islam you still practice? For example, do you fast during the month of Ramadan?
I get asked variations of this question all the time, and the answer for me, personally, is no. Nothing I did beacuse of my religious beliefs was anything that continues to be worth it to me for me to continue doing as an atheist. In fact, some of the mandates of Islam are legitimately harmful.
But what about, say, charitable acts, or acts of kindness? Or the benefits of meditation? Or the encouragement to smile? Or the wisdom in certain quotes? Continue reading “Is There Anything in Islam for This Ex-Muslim?”
Once upon a time, I had just come out to my family as an ex-Muslim. Believing me to be under the influence of a a heathenish social group or malicious atheist man, my folks dragged me to mosque after mosque all over California. The miles were clocked in the hopes that some imam or sheikh would manage to “answer my questions” (though I was long past questions, really). I went along with it, since I had been successfully gaslit into feeling guilt for my choices and had learned that there were rewards to giving into their “requests” instead of resisting them (i.e. I’d be left blissfully alone about it for a longer while if I yielded instead of standing my ground).
One such excursion was up north to see a religious leader my father knew and liked. That my cousin’s Gaye Holud was to take place that evening was no deterrent. The entire family piled into the van and we made the 150-mile trek up to the Santa Barbara area. What ensued was an hours-long conversation that involved lots of discussion and point-counterpoint but absolutely no eye contact between the imam and me, bless his devout heart.
Continue reading “Leaving the House of Islam”
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.
Continue reading “Representing One Ex-Muslim Is Better Than Representing None”
Here is part of what Vlad Chituc over at NonProphet Status had to say about #AnApostatesExperience:
To quote fellow Patheos blogger Dan Arel, #AnApostatesExperience was meant to show “what real threatening and venomous attacks look like,” as if that erased the threats that Aslan received. It’s hard for me to see how this is any different than “Dear Muslima,” except this time it’s a Muslim as the target. [Aslan] never suggested that his experiences are worse than the experiences of any ex-Muslims, so what do they have to do with the threats he’s received? The struggle of ex-Muslims is an important issue to highlight, but not as a way of one-upping the victims of threats and harassment.
To answer the title, i.e. “Why is it so hard for critics to read Reza Aslan charitably?”: It’s because Aslan is far too charitable when it comes to the oppression that Muslims perpetuate within their own communities. Further, I find the characterization of #AnApostatesExperience in the post to be not only uncharitable, but also poorly-informed as to the real issues with Reza Aslan and with ex-Muslims.
Continue reading “#AnApostatesExperience: An Informed Critics’ Reading of Reza Aslan”
Once they know about my religious and family background, people generally want to know how my family relationships are now. They’re not so bad these days, thank you. After 8 years, even such a dramatic revelation as apostasy loses its ability to shock and agitate. Filial love can, in some situations, overcome anger and pain.
More difficult to overcome than my family members’s distaste for apostasy are their feelings about bodies.
Continue reading “The Double Lives of Brown Girls’ Closets”
Content notice for body image.
The other day, we at EXMNA made #AnApostatesExperience happen in response to Reza Aslan — who utterly missed the point.
He wasn’t the only Muslim responding. I got one Muslim who told me that I would’ve been better off taking off my headscarf rather than full-on coming out to my family as an atheist. This person is hardly alone. More than one Muslim has asked me why I didn’t tell my parents that I wanted to de-veil and stop practicing Islam rather than to declare to them that I had deconverted.
Given that I went from being a devout Muslim to being an atheist without detection but am a terrible liar, pussyfooting around my atheism would have been a pointless strategy. Continue reading “#AnApostatesExperience: Why I Declared My Apostasy”
Remember when Sam Harris said a misogynistic thing and doubled-down on it by talking about how he has a wife, a mother, and a female editor whose contributions to his work he highly values? Most white liberal atheists saw that for what it was and mocked him. It’s the “I have a black friend” argument.
Reza Aslan did a version of that yesterday regarding #AnApostatesExperience, the hashtag we at EXMNA started.
Continue reading “#AnApostatesExperience: A Plea to Reconsider Your Love for Reza Aslan”
This weekend, I received a message on Facebook:
Read your article on being an ex-Muslim and why you hold that identity. I braced myself for a torrent of talking about how Islam is the worst ideology in the world and how evil the teachings are. But hey, you kept it from being polemical, which makes me want to ask you a question: As an ex-Muslim, why do you avoid polemics against Islam? You’re probably one of the least angry ex-Muslims I’ve read about.
My feelings upon reading it were mixed. Gratitude faded into annoyance, which mellowed into a slight defensiveness (I loathe anything even slightly resembling the idea that I’m “one of the good ones“).
It’s not as if I never was angry about Islam, or don’t continue to be angry about aspects of it.
Continue reading “A More Reasonable Rage: What Made Me Angry at Islam”