greetings,

i've been atheist for about 4 years. but my family have no idea because they are practicing muslims.

i was just wondering about your thoughts regarding a 'Muslim- Atheist'. i think identify myself as a 'Muslim-Atheist', my personal beliefs are pretty athesit, but my actions dont quite reflect my atheism. perhaps its due to cultural restrictions. but i was just thinking if anyone else would identify themselves as a 'Muslim-Atheist'. perhaps you could say what you think the term means to you, and maybe any other comments you have.

HB

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I have a lesbian Pakistani friend of mine, she says she's "culturally a Muslim".

I think it means that she is not part of the religion, but that she grew up so immersed in the culture of her people that it's inseparable from the rest of her identity and to some extent, she affirms and is proud of her culture.

Richard Dawkins is an 'atheist for Jesus' also and says he's a 'cultural Christian' in the sense that he accepts many of the humanist teachings of Jesus while not believing in God.  I myself would say am an atheist for Jesus as well, I embrace his message of economic and social justice.

Also, when my mother raised me she taught me some Christian principles, like 'never deny water to a thirsty stranger', and she would feed homeless people from the neighborhood who passed by the house every now and then, she set an example of compassion that I'm very proud of to this day and it's still a part of me that I celebrate, to this day I try to always eat all the food in the plate because I'm aware of hunger and lack, maybe it's a Catholic guilt trip that I never shook up but I think it is one of those things that I never want to give up even as I've questioned everything else.  My mother taught me decency and compassion.  This is how I was raised, and now this is not just a Christian virtue but a (perhaps Christian-inspired) humanist virtue to me.

Islam has some positive things about taking care of the poor, of orphans and widows, and the banking system in Islam is way more sound than ours.  I do think there are positive things and human values that can be affirmed in Islam without believing in the supernatural claims.

And I also think it's important to look in the mirror and take pride in your roots and your ancestors, so that maybe it's good for you to affirm some aspects of Islam that are still important for you, even as an atheist.

There are also humanist Jews who even get together in temples to celebrate Judaism within a secular context, for its cultural value, without making references to God at all.  I would argue that Unitarians are the Christian version of this.  So this is a wider movement!  Salaam akeykum.

Hiram's response is definitely worth looking at.  For a long time I resented the absolutely evil aspects of my religious upbringing to the point where I could scarcely go near a church without expressing my disgust.  Many of the details of Islam are very different but the same dichotomy holds.  I have gotten to the point where I believe that religions express some of the worst of humanity and some of the best as well.  The bottom line of relying on dogmatic superstition to direct our thinking is very negative and to be avoided at all costs.  That is what we must confront.  

I suggest checking out Darrel Ray's The God Virus for good advice on how to interact with the devout.  This is very difficult at times but we must do it.  Good communications mean that you must not push them into a hostile, defensive or sometimes belligerent mode.  Depending on the social norms for your community, this can also be physically dangerous.  

Remember, most religions regard apostates as worthy of death.  

I can not identify myself as a Myslim atheist and relatively very few can do so. It is surely more dificult to be an ex-muslim than ex from any religion. The answer to your problem depends upon how serious you are about coming out of the closet. If you are living in a muslim country, you will have to most probably live your whole life in a closet. If you do not want this, coming out of closet means coming out of your country.  

I can't help you from my own experience hbma, but YouTube is a good place to find what ex-Muslims are thinking. You need to have the Adobe Flash video player installed to watch videos, (install it if you don't have it). Try this for a start:-

=============================================

Islam to Atheism - Ex Muslims اسلام کے دہریت الاسلام الى الالحاد 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLiMlQzTHlQ

=============================================

There you will find a video of well known other ex-Muslims' names and their 'photos. In the right hand margin, you will find links to the testimonies of ex-muslims. Choose carefully - not all the videos are helpful, ie. some are NOT. I know that to be openly ex-muslim/atheist can be dangerous, especially in muslim countries like Pakistan/Iran etc.

Cheers to you, Gila G.

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