You Don’t Know What You’ve Got…

Reflecting on the past two months, I see how easy it was for me to leave Islam. Due to all of the annoying behavior I saw early on among Muslims, I tended to keep to myself and never rolled with a ‘clique’. I didn’t put myself in a position of relying or needing anything from the community. So when I decided to walk away I faced little backlash. I deleted my Facebook profile to preempt any drama that could have come from removing my hijab. My family and friends didn’t question or harass me about it. I pretty much picked up my life right where I left off.

An acquaintance of mine had a somewhat different experience. Her Muslim ‘friends’ immediately began harassing her online when she took off her hijab. She deleted and blocked them, but that wasn’t enough. They simply started calling and texting her phone instead, insulting and threatening her. She now has to get her number changed in order to cut all contact with them. The behavior of these people is quite disgusting to me and I am sad that my friend has to go through all this.

However, with that said, I realize how fortunate she and I both are. We didn’t have to worry about our families disowning us for leaving Islam. We didn’t have to worry about losing any of our rights. We didn’t have to worry about facing discrimination in our society. I didn’t have to fear losing custody of my child. As Americans born into non-Muslim families, we are both free to believe or disbelieve as we choose. And this freedom comes from the rights enshrined in the Constitution of the “Great Satan”. It makes me realize how much I’ve taken my country for granted.

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A native Seattleite and recent East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been. I reside in the suburbs of NYC with my husband, daughter, and our two feisty but deeply loved cats.

6 thoughts on “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got…

  1. Hi–while i haven’t left Islam, it’s something I’ve been contemplating as of late. For the most part, I’m trying to reconcile conservative/traditional Islam with my own liberal values. Anyway, my husband has recently told me that if I do leave Islam he’ll divorce me and do everything possible to get custody of our four children. He’s otherwise a kind and rational human being, but rationality as you noted doesn’t extend to religion, especially when one is considering leaving. My non-Muslim family would support me, but otherwise I believe my life would become much more difficult and complicated should I publicly renounce Islam.

  2. Hi Stephanie,

    I understand your struggle, believe me. There was much in traditional Islam that I couldn’t mesh with the more progressive mentality that I’ve adopted in my adulthood. I kept trying to force it but I just couldn’t do it.

    I am truly sorry to hear of your predicament regarding your family! As a mother I know that being separated from one’s child(ren) is a mom’s worst nightmare. I hope it does not come to that for you. Are you currently residing in your home nation? Hopefully if you are in the USA or Europe more can be done to secure your rights to your children.

    I recommend that you check out this messageboard if it’s safe for you to do so: http://www.councilofexmuslims.com/index.php. There are great people there that can relate to what you are going through and give you advice and resources as well.

    1. Sorry to say this but threatening divorce to control a woman’s choice of belief is the cruelest and meanest thing I’ve ever heard. He wouldn’t do that if he really loves you. Maybe he is not serious and is just trying to scare you .

      Maybe you need to talk it through with him and let him know exactly what you find wrong in Islam and ask him to help you find the answers. Maybe once he realize that he himself can’t give answers he would understand your position and accept it.

      I really hope things would turn out great for you , and sorry if I got up in your business.

  3. I’m really saddened to hear about your struggle and I hope things turn out okay for you, religion should not be the reason from seperating a mum from her children(obviously if we talk about sects that endanger a child’s well-being that is a different issue). I truly hope Stephanie will find some help/advice and work things out for yourself, same goes for you dimu.

    I’m glad I’ve never taken the advice to get married and don’t have that problem to solve, I’ve just spoken to my friend about it and she told me to get married when I’m 100% sure, however I know converts are always shipped into marriage and then it’s a one-way-street at times.

  4. Stephanie–If you are living in North America, Western Europe, or Australia/New Zealand, you need to see a lawyer as soon as possible. If you can, tape-record your husband making these threats so that you have evidence against him which will convince a judge. Contact an abused woman’s help-line for counseling, as well as advice on how to get legal aid. Be aware that some men do carry out these threats, and that in the case of most Muslim-majority countries, once the man has the kids on its soil, the law is on his side and you aren’t likely to get them back.

    If the kids have passports, other ID, etc, take them and hide them in a safe place where your husband has no access to them.

    (I went through something similar. There was a point when I was carrying my kids’ passports with me wherever I went; I didn’t dare leave them in the house.)

    If I were you, I would cease all discussion with your husband about your religious doubts unless and until you have moved out and gotten a court order which gives you custody. It is not just a question of whether he is usually rational or humane–in issues like this, his family, friends, the local imam, etc will likely give him advice as to what they think he should do, and that advice might be more hard-line. People can often get really irrational when it comes to divorce and child custody too, regardless of culture or religion. But it’s worse when people think that god underwrites their selfishness.

  5. wow, i just now checked back…anyway, the kids don’t have passports and won’t be getting them…that’s my biggest fear.

    I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I seriously don’t believe I can reconcile Islam with my personal values and beliefs. I’m still wavering though.

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