These are just some of the words Muslims use to describe ExMuslims because to them only a confused, misguided lying traitor would leave the most perfect religion and dare to speak about it.
I was around 3 or 4 when my mother converted to Islam because to her it made more sense that Christianity or Judaism. The day she took her shahadah she put on the hijab and she changed our names from our Western ones to Muslim ones. Besides that my childhood was quite similar to other Muslim and ExMuslim children going to the mosque for Quran and Islamic classes, wearing the hijab from seven and no mixing with the opposite gender. However, it wasn’t long until my mother fell down the rabbit hole of Islamic extremism. I was taught to admire people like Osama Bin Laden, that the multiple terror attacks were justified because the west was evil and full of kufr. Our home was raided by ASIO for my families connections to individuals who are currently serving prison sentences for plotting a terror attack on Aussie soil.
I often like to say that I escaped a Shariah in Australia.
When I hit my early teens my mother removed me from school because she did not deem the school environment as an Islamic one and it was time for me to learn how to be the perfect Muslim wife and mother. At thirteen she “encouraged” me to put on the niqab which I wore until the night I left home.
I hate the niqab. It is one of the most dehumanising and alienating pieces of clothing a woman can wear. It puts a literal barrier between her and the rest of the world. I would beg my mother to let me remove it but she would refuse saying that I was a disappointing her or be cruel and say I would look like a sharmoota or whore.
Slight rebelling from my siblings resulted in my family making the decision to move to a Muslim country because if we weren’t surrounded by corrupt western ideas we wouldn’t rebel. Prior to us moving there a doctor had been killed for asking the local mosque to lower the sound of the adhan next to a hospital. A young man was killed by his father for saying he was a Christian. My step father’s own family said that if any dared to even think about leaving Islam they would take them to the highest mountain and throw them off the top. I couldn’t understand was religion really more important than family?
When my family returned to Australia, I had begun to have serious doubts about Islam as a way of life. On one hand, I was being told that Islam gave women all these rights but on the other, I was being deprived my rights. I read through all of the Islamic texts I could get my hands on The Quran, Tafsir ibn Kathir, Bulugh Al Maram, Sahih Bukhari and Muslim, Riyadh us Saliheen. I began to study Aqeedah (Islamic Creed) and Fiqh ( Islamic Jurisprudence) to find ways around my parents’ control. But all I could find were justifications. As a daughter I had no power. I was my parent’s property until I was my husband’s.
I never had this deep connection to Islam or this fear of Allah. I just obeyed my parents and acted the good Muslimah out of fear of them and their fists. I thought my only way out of this environment was to get married.
So I was going to find the most nonpracticing Muslim guy out there. Now they do exist but none were lining up to marry the fifteen year old niqabi daughter of the local sheikh.
I had almost given up until tragedy struck my family. A terrible accident resulted in the death of my youngest sister and I remember holding her body and realising how easily life could be over. Then and there I made a promise that I was not going to give up, that I was going to be free.
Fast forward a few years and my relationship with my family had become very fractured. I still wore the niqab, prayed and did everything they wanted but I would fight them on the smallest things like going to the library or visiting friends. Finally at 19 after one particularly brutal encounter with my parents, as I lay cowering on the floor I realised I had had enough. This fight was going to be the last because I was so tired of the fighting, the struggle to constantly hide what I was thinking and feeling, who I really was. I pulled every last bit of courage I had left in me and I ran out of the door in front of them.
I had no idea where I was going, how I was going to survive or where I was going to even sleep that night but in those moments I didn’t care. I had survived everything life had thrown at me, I was going to survive this.
And I did.
Five years after I had left home I came across a news article that was about ExMuslims. I was instantly curious. I knew that people left Islam, I knew what they were called in arabic but I had no idea there was another word for what I was. I jumped online and typed ExMuslim into google and straightaway I discovered the world of ExMuslims. Reading about their experiences, I instantly felt this deep connection with people I had never met because there was one thing that united us, we were all apostates from islam.
So I created The Nullifidian where I could share my story and offer advice and support to my fellow ExMuslims. I kept myself anonymous because I feared for my life, I still do. I feared for my life in Australia. Over the years I have encountered many people I grew up with and have been abused and even cornered in doctors clinics where I have begged and cried for them to leave me alone. Muslims are funny this way. They don’t do this to Christians, They don’t do this to Jews, hindus sikhs or even the average atheist. They do this to ExMuslims because there is nothing that offends them more than an apostate.
I have been told I was taught the wrong Islam by Muslims who listened to every Khutbah my step father gave. I have been told by my own brother that I deserved to be raped and murdered. I was been told that my heart has become black and my flesh will be torn from my body in the hell fire.
When I tell my story, many moderates claim that the Islam gives everyone a choice but where was my choice?
Not a single person challenged my family and said to them let your daughter go to school, don’t force her to wear the niqab , instead praise was given for raising such a pious daughter such a pure daughter a perfect muslim daughter, offering their sons for marriage and encouraging their daughters to be just like me.
But it’s only now when I dare to speak up they say my family were wrong, that they didn’t understand the religion?
And I am not alone in this experience. Every single ExMuslim faces this whenever they speak up. A complete disregard and denial of our experiences. We are called liars and hypocrites. We are accused of wanting to eat bacon and sleep around. We are told that we were not taught the “real” islam. We are called agents of mossad or that we were never Muslim to begin with.
But I expected this.
What I didn’t expect was the complete erasure of experiences ExMuslims go through as “Not real Islamic experiences” by those that claim to advocate for minorities. Sadly many of those advocacy groups are not privy to Islamic teachings or the community are far too quick to push our experiences to the side out of fear of hurting Muslims. But what of the people Muslims are hurting?
It is incredibly important that people listen to ExMuslims because the more the world is silent, the more ExMuslims are imprisoned, the more ExMuslims are going to be tortured the more ExMuslims going to be killed. This is not something that only happens in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia or Saudi Arabia this is happening in our backyards. Daughters are being forced into marriages and sons are being sent overseas to wartorn countries because they “rebel”. And if they refuse, their parents will torture and in some cases kill their own children. Because to them religion matters more than family.
I am not saying that every single Muslim on earth wants to see me and those like me killed, I can have some respect for Muslim Reformists, but what I am saying is that average Muslim is silent. ExMuslim Experiences don’t fit into their rose-coloured, watered-down version of Lite Islam. They have been taught from birth that Islam is perfect, untaintable and that it is the people that make Islam bad, not Islam itself.
To the average Muslim I say that there is nothing wrong with living as a moderate Muslim You can worship however you want. If you want to take only the “good parts” from islam and disregard the bad parts that’s okay, I applaud you for that however it is vital you understand there are parts of your religion that other people will follow through with. They will force its rule on others, They will deprive people of their rights. They will sanction the killings of those that leave. They will condemns those of differing beliefs to an eternity of agony. Muslims need to listen to those who are pointing out the brutal and barbaric practices of Islam, they need to be acknowledged and only then can a proper discussion be had.
To nonmuslims I have only one request. Please just listen to experiences of ExMuslims.