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.

The first part on Christianity can be read here.

Islam

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?

Part 3: Unitarian Universalism, Agnosticism and Atheism & Part 4: Coming Out as an Atheist

8 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this! I don’t know much about Islam and am always happy to learn more. 🙂

    One of my mom’s best friends is from Turkey and told her that the Qur’an is actually quite ambiguous to interpret because the vowels aren’t written down. Is that true?

    Hm, it interesting to think about how my standing with religion would look like today if religion had had more self-evidence in my family. But given both my parents’ openness to meditation and Eastern philosophy, I’ve never thought that you could get close to God only within the context of a certain religion. Probably this is why I never had problems with God. The issues with religion you mentioned I all share as well, and that is why I’m very skeptical about religions. They feel so mind-narrowing.

    Also, when I read your post I thought about the concept of God I have. I don’t think of God as an entity with a secret will doing unitelligible things. Otherwise I’d have massive problems with God! Rather, this concept of God seems like anthropomorphism to me. I prefer to think of God as a state of consciousness you can reach through practice of mind and doing good deeds out of internal conviction and integrity, which is characterized by realizing that all things are connected with each other and consequently manifesting in compassion and “being above it all”. So I think of Jesus, e.g., as a wise man who expressed that sense of consciousness, just like other wise beings from other cultures, but not as the one and only son of God.

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    • It is true about the vowels. Well, what happened is that originally there were no vowels, but a couple of hundred years after the Qur’an was first written down, they decided to add markings to make reading easier. These markings can completely change the meaning of a text. For example, there’s a verse that is traditionally interpreted as ordering women to stay within their homes – but if you change the marking for the vowel, it could be ordering women to behave with dignity in their homes. Quite a difference! Learning about this was actually my first steps away from Islam, because I realized that the Qur’an had been changed just about as much as the Bible. (You can read more about that here: http://www.altmuslimah.com/b/mca/part_1_what_a_difference_a_kasrah_makes )

      I think most religions depiction of god is incredibly antropomorphic. We create god in our own image, which is why the god of OT for example can seem so arrogant, petty and small-minded. This is similar to how I think religions arose to help us make sense of our world. Of course the god is going to be antropomorphic – it is made by humans, how could it be anything less?

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      • Thank you, that’s really interesting! Also thanks for the link!

        I think God in the OT is one of the most unlikeable guys out there. 😛 I could never bring him together with God from the NT. Some people believe he’s an extraterrestrian making fun of the humans and that the fire whirl he appears in is his spaceship. 😀

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  2. May we assure you that there is no all-loving God who would condemn people for being born in the wrong country that doesn’t practice said religion. God has provided enough means that people could get to hear His Words. Denominational churches are just a means, but they are not a necessity. It is not because a person is baptised in one or another church and calls himself or herself ‘reborn’, that he or she shall be able to enter the Kingdom of God.

    Faith without works is dead.

    God is not a god of secrets and incredible difficult to understand ideas or words. People do not have to follow a university in theology to understand the Word of God. Jehovah is a God of order and clarity. Allah, the Divine Creator, is a loving God Who wants as many people as possible to be saved and to live happily for ever. Allah was, is and shall always be there for those who are willing to find Him. The prophet Jeshua (Jesus) paved the way and made many questions people still had, clear.He also now came to sit at he right hand of his heavenly Father to be there the mediator between Allah, Jehovah God and man.

    Those who will get to see the differences in the Biblical figures shall also have to live according to their teachings and have to come closer to the One and Only One God, putting away all the heathen actions and traditions.

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Trackbacks

  1. Secular Sunday: Losing My Religion, Part 1: Christianity | Becky's Kaleidoscope
  2. Secular Sunday: Losing My Religion, Part 3: Unitarian Universalism, Agnosticism and Atheism | Becky's Kaleidoscope
  3. Secular Sunday: Losing My Religion, Part 4: Coming Out as an Atheist | Becky's Kaleidoscope

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