Secular Sunday: Losing My Religion, Part 2: Islam
I have been asked several times to share my story of how I went from growing up as an Evangelical Christian, to a Qur’an-only Muslim and finally as an Atheist. The only “beliefs” that give me no cognitive dissonance. In the words of Ayaan Hirsi Ali:
The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.
My religious journey was always about getting closer to god, and trying to salvage my faith. It was why I left Christianity for Islam. It was why I studied Islam more and continued asking questions. Because I believed that my god, the god of the universe, would of course be able to stand up to scrutiny. But the harder I looked, the more everything began to fell apart. So I left Islam, and in the end, I couldn’t see any convincing evidence as to why I should believe in god at all. All I see is fairy tales, make-believe and wishful thinking. And I’m sorry, I’d rather be hurt by the truth than comforted by a lie.
Long-time readers might recall I did a three-part series on Losing My Religion on the old blog, and I have decided to rewrite these posts and share them.
At the age of 21 I began to learn more about Islam in order to better understand the man I was dating at the time. I found out why Muslims don’t believe Jesus is the Son of God, I discovered the many changes the Bible has undergone, mistranslations etc.
I felt like Islam offered me a solution to many of my doubts. It solved my issue with the Trinity (since Muslims believe Jesus is a prophet, but not the Son of God). It solved my issues with the salvation only through belief, as Muslims believe that your good deeds have to weigh out your bad deeds. It solved my issues with the misogyny in the Bible. Yes, looking at the Bible it is more misogynistic than the Qur’an, although Christians (generally speaking) are less misogynistic than Muslims (generally speaking), but that’s because the Christians ignore what the Bible teaches, and the Muslims ignore what the Qur’an teaches.
At first I felt such at peace with Islam. Yes, I was rather unconventional, as I pretty much disregarded Hadiths from the beginning. Hadiths are the collections of sayings and stories of what the Prophet allegedly said and did… but even within a single collection you can find several that completely contradict each other, and often even contradict the Qur’an. Nahida, aka the Fatal Feminist, has an EXCELLENT post on the topic of Hadiths. Most of the misogynistic behaviour in Islam is justified by referring to misogynistic Hadiths.
I felt at peace, because I thought I had managed to salvage my faith in God, because most of my issues with Christianity had been dealt with. After a while, however, new issues began to show up. The Qur’an has been changed, and there are inconsistencies in there that I just cannot ignore. For both the Bible and the Qur’an, passages have been taken and used to justify absolutely horrible crimes against humanity and against individuals. If God is all powerful, how come She couldn’t keep Her word safe? I’ve been told it is a “mercy” that we can interpret the text differently in different cultures and times, but how is it a mercy when it is used to justify misogyny, racism, homophobia and other prejudices? How can an all-powerful and loving God justify these things done in His name?
My next issue was more of an all-encompassing one for most religions, the idea that ONLY your religion is the way to salvation (and for some people only THEIR denomination within that specific religion). How can an all-loving God condemn people for being born in the wrong country that doesn’t practice said religion? The vast majority of people I’ve met, Muslims or Christians, are the same religion as their parents. How is that making a conscious choice? If you are the same religion as your family, have you ever consciously doubted your religion, and considered that it might not be true? Or are you just blindly following those who went before you?