At the age of 8, having grown frustrated and tired from elements I can barely remember; I challenged the almighty God prove his existence in the midst of the night. That night ended with the burning thought that "God does NOT exist!" ingrained into the back of my mind. 

 

London is a very multicultural city, there exists many ghetto's, one such ghetto was where I grew up. I was surrounded by many Muslim immigrants and their children. I spent most of my early years hiding my inhibitions due to personal fears and a wider desire to conform, after-all I was still a young teen. The more I tried to conform, the more I delved deeper into the study of Islam, desperately hoping to find salvation. When I left high school I finally accepted that I could and would never bring myself to accept God in its traditional sense. In many ways I thought I was broken.

 

Being older I began to take a greater interest in geopolitical issues and history. My resentment for religion grew in proportion to my understanding of the world and its past. I was never a patriot but I came to hate the fact that my country, Pakistan, was formed on such an ugly ideology; Islam. Most depressing of all was the Muslim education. For (active) Muslims education primarily refers to knowledge pertaining to religious scriptures, "earthly" education is viewed as a silver medal and in some cases even frowned upon. The number of my relatives leaving school with enough GCSE's to pursue A-Levels is equal to zero. Imagine being told "You wont take your knowledge to the grave!" when advising about the relevance of education.

 

Education aside, Islam was stifling creativity, drawing/painting is frowned upon, not allowed to indulge in music or film making. It also impedes on curiosity, "God knows best", "Humans are weak", "You will die and that's all that matters". The ugly oppression of women, which painfully they are indoctrinated to believe is the better way of life.

 

I became tired of pretending and appeasing, I actively began avoiding anything connected to Islam. This caused a rift between me and my family. I began to be honest to my friends, some family and any new relationships I formed. Some people would become curious, most would be shocked and some refused to socialise with me.

 

Interestingly the punishment for apostasy is death in Islam. While this law is challenged by a small minority of scholars the united consensus is that an apostate of Islam speaking against Islam should be killed. It is not so simple to be an Atheist for Muslims.

 

I have bouts of depression and there isn't much of a support network for me to rely on, I have become increasingly lonely. I hoped there would be other relatives and friends who like me also disbelieved. But even today I am as lonely as I was at that night when I was 8. 

 

I hoped maybe writing out some of my problems would help my mind calm down.

I guess what I want will never happen.

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Comment by Jedi Wanderer on September 12, 2011 at 7:35pm
Sure I'd be glad to, just let me know how to find it.
Comment by Irfan Aslam on September 12, 2011 at 4:09pm

Hi, Murtad I found AN and CEMB around the same time and happened to join AN instead. I have registered on CEMB today.

 

Thanks to everyone for the comments. Lately having come forth with my beliefs I have become very distant with my family especially my mother whom I am/was very close with.

 

Wanderer as you said you have studied psychology and philosophy I hope you can help me regarding a problem, but I will create a new blog post regarding it.

Comment by Jedi Wanderer on September 11, 2011 at 9:01pm
I can see Irfan already spending a lot of time at the council of ex-muslims website, Murtad. And Irfan, I identify with your story a lot. I was raised Jewish myself, not strictly or anything, but my family life was so bad and so I became very interested in whether there really was a just god, the same one my parents supposedly believed in (despite their human failures), or whether it was just hot air. I had very much the same experiences as you did, demanding that if there were a god that he should show himself, or strike me down, or do something to show that he wasn't as impotent as he seemed. I had a dream where god appeared to me as a man much larger than myself. In it, I remembered that one can control one's dreams (a trick I learned to help with nightmares), so I decided I would just grow to be as big as he was. After a back and forth of growing larger and larger, I made myself as big as I could imagine and then squashed him. I woke up feeling like I would never again have serious doubts that there might really be a god after all.

It is a further bit of craziness that apostates of Islam are supposed to be killed. What kind of god demands that fellow humans exact punishment, in this case a command to murder, in his name? Why can't he just do his own dirty work, create his own punishment? Isn't hell enough? Too many stupid and ridiculous questions like these to merit any kind of plausibility.

Since those early days of my childhood, I also spent a (probably unhealthy) amount of time studying human thought. I also studied psychology and philosophy (have degrees in both), and that burning desire to change people's minds has never left me. I don't suppose it will ever leave you either. I would say that the most important thing I have learned from my studies of human motivations and behavior is that, central to our sense of goodness or morality, is the sense that we are good, valuable people. In other words, value and goodness (and ethics) are based around our self-esteem, our egos, our sense of ourselves. So bizudana was absolutely correct, because if you attack a person on what he most identifies with, e.g. their religion, their whole way of understanding themselves as good people, you are attacking them at the very core of their sense of self. It is a very personal attack.

Take care of yourself, Irfan. You aren't alone. Make sure you do what will make you feel sustainably good about yourself, and you will be a happy and successful person. And if you ever want to talk, about philosophy or psychology or politics or just about anything, feel free to drop me a line. Oh, and don't marry a Muslim. Find yourself someone who shares your values, only then can you truly value your relationship.
Comment by Ruth Anthony-Gardner on September 11, 2011 at 6:38pm
I appreciate your sharing. You are not alone here, even though it's only cyberspace.
Comment by Murtad Fitri on September 11, 2011 at 6:25pm
Interesting blog post.  I can relate to a lot of it.  Hang in there, Irfan.  You are not alone.  By the way, there are a lot of ex-Muslims at the www.councilofexmuslims.com forum.  It is where I mostly hang out.
Comment by Bizu Dana on September 9, 2011 at 12:24pm

I can understand how it must feel to be pushed aside by your own family, especially because of some idiotic notion that is routed to their minds. There is a chance i am wrong but can it be that islamism works both as a religion and as sort of a "code of honour", a way of living for people? And in they're minds.. if you dare to express criticism to it's specifics it may be interpreted as if you criticise them personally, they're way of life. That can generate powerful reactions. If I dare to speculate how a religious mind works (i was raised by a hyperactive religious grandmother), it might be that they always think it's hard enough to go day by day without crossing that imaginary line of morality, drawn by religious concepts and rules. Hard to keep in mind that you have to pray everyday and really mean it .. hard enough without you coming up to them and calling it absurd.  In they're minds you might always be the "black sheep".

So don't get depressed. You can't be depressed about this your whole life. 

[excuse my bad english..]

Comment by Geoff on September 7, 2011 at 1:11am

Thanks for writing your thoughts.  "You wont take your knowledge to the grave!"  Agreed.  How agonizingly absurd is that thought process, it's what keeps followers of Islam backward and trapped in ancient ignorance never to experience growth and maturity.  I have no use for any religion or deity but some are worse than others.  If you haven't yet read this book, I emphatically encourage you to pick up a copy.  Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.  I think you would see parallels that can help you.  A true story about herself, a Somalian women who escaped Islam, her country and her family.  Her story is so profound on many levels.  I picked it up last year and have never read any book twice, this one was the first.

Religion at it's core is a tool for power and control, it's a hell of an invention (pun intended). Believers and leaders get something out of it and they don't want that, which they get, to change.  Anything or anyone seen as a threat to diminishing that control and power which religion provides them is dealt with extreme prejudice, evident throughout history in every corner of the globe in all religions big and small.  Religion begets violence because it is intrinsically indefensible against logic and its last defense available is to eliminate the opposition. Hit you, kick you, belittle you, arrest you, shun you, kill you.  I would say to you to be cautious who you are completely honest with.  People whom you thought you knew can snap and betray you.  Take care and be safe.

Comment by mistercliff on September 7, 2011 at 12:01am
Growing up indoctrinated is hard on many of us, but children taught to be Muslim have it especially hard. You have my sympathies and are amongst friends here.

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