Outcasts

Two weeks ago, I had a discussion with a sister who had also started questioning Islam. She has not left the faith though, just taking time to re-evaluate things. Even though she doesn’t yet wear the scarlet letter of full-fledged apostasy, some have already started to treat her that way. As I listened to her experiences and reflected upon my own, the emotional pain involved hit home. When I left the deen I didn’t spend too much time dwelling on the coldness I received from people. I was too preoccupied getting my life back on track and taking care of my child, so focusing on people’s opinions was a luxury that I did not have. But I am not going to lie, some of it really hurts.

I think that what galls me the most is the fact that people judge you so easily. Friends and family who have known you for years, the spouse that shares your bed every night-they can all turn on you and declare you persona non grata out of the blue. And not because you committed a crime, or mistreated them or did something unethical. No, all you did was question or modify your religious beliefs.

I personally experienced this in my dealings with my ex. Here was a man who had not spoken to me or even bothered to see how I was after her completely abandoned me and refused to give me an Islamic divorce. Yet the minute he noticed that I was no longer wearing hijab in my profile picture on FB, he began harassing me. This was someone that I had loved, someone that I had welcomed into my life and my family. Yet here he was in December, telling me that I had committed an unforgivable crime and that I was the worst type of human being because I’m an atheist(which BTW I am not. He just assumed that non-Muslim=atheist for some reason) and that I deserve to die. Here he is again in July, harassing me, insulting me and calling me a whore and a kaffir, then telling me that I’m lucky I wasn’t around him when I apostatized from Islam as he would have carried out the punishment with his own hands. To him, I was no longer the opinionated, feisty, sweet and intelligent woman that he had proposed to. No, in abandoning Islam I became a kaffir and a munafiq, unworthy of tolerance, respect or even oxygen. And that is what hurts the most: being completely dehumanized-not because of anything you’ve done-but because of your beliefs.

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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.

12 thoughts on “Outcasts

  1. I’m learning that the term “I love you for the sake of Allah”, really is a conditional term. It isn’t ‘unconditional’ love/caring at all! They don’t love or care about YOU, they are just willing to tolerate you because you agree with them. Which reminds me – I need to clean up my friends list and remove folk that I know would only accept me if I were Muslim.

  2. Salina that’s exactly why I just went ahead and deleted my old profile when I apostatized. Out of the one hundred+ Muslims I had as friends only TWO of them are still able to talk to me with some semblance of respect now that I don’t share their beliefs. I am telling you, it makes you find out really quick who truly values and cares for you as a human being!

  3. It’s sad that people, even ones who supposedly care about you. Treat you as less than human when they find out that you may not share exactly the same beliefs as they do. They don’t want to see beyond what someone else has taught/told them, to see the reality.
    Most people have a real problem thinking for themselves. They can’t stand to see reality when it doesn’t match their fantasy world. They bury their heads in the sand hoping that reality will recede and not disturb their blissful ignorance. And they react badly when something intrudes from reality.

  4. Salina you nailed it. This terrible phrase, I love you for the sake of Allah. It used to sound so beautiful and meant true love, connected to all the world. But it is meant to exclude all the sincere love you could, but are not allowed to have, for people or things that do not agree with Allah. The same thing that happened to you diva, has happened to me. Although I wasn’t threatened as much as you have been, I was completely excluded from my own home, world, friends, and from the arms of my love who I thought loved me for me. But they all just loved the image they had in their heads of a muslim convert. When this didn’t turn up the way I really was, I was discarded as filthy garbage. After my deconversion I had a rough year with lots of health problems but nobody from my so-called family ever even took the time of calling me and asking how I was. So sorry for your friend that she is going through the doubts and sorry for your pain… but try to take it as an encouragement that you have taken the right decision for leaving islam!

  5. Yes Yes . They only love the image of you they have in their heads. Even the spouse you loved more than anything , the one who said at the beginning that you being a non-muslim doesn’t make any difference to him. Gradually over the years you will realize that it makes ALL the difference… To him .. to his family … to your own children who grow up learning in school that a non-muslim will go to hell no matter how a good person he is !!

    Diva, your friend will learn that she’s lucky she learned that lesson so early, before committing to a life she can’t escape without losing everything.

  6. Jude, exactly… this is what my ex also said. In the beginning he gave me not so harsh, very spiritual books and even ‘islamic music’, and I remember he even encouraged me to find out more about the ‘deviant’ sufism and buddhism. I remember what he said: I think islam doesn’t fit you so well and if you think it is better to check other religions to see if you feel better with one of them, go ahead. When I asked him: but does this mean our relationship will end, he clearly said: no. But of course, it was the most important thing for him and for his family. If you don’t adapt, you’re nothing. Only if all the adaptation comes from your part, you will get ‘accepted’, but this means leading a double life. I tried for some time, but I couldn’t do it.

    Diva, must be also difficult for you seing your friend struggle with the same things. Do you have the feeling you can get through to her? I hope she will be fine..

  7. I get an idea of what it might mean but what the phrase “I love you for the sake of Allah” means exactly?

    and I know the attitude you described in your post all too well… it saddens me that Muslims and other religious people cannot appreciate a person as an individual simply because they don’t share their view on God.
    This was the most difficult part for me to deal with, being rejected because God said so.

    I hope that you and your friend will find people on your way that will appreciate you for who you are. This is my sincere wish for both of you 🙂

  8. To Almost… I think “I Love You for the Sake of Allah” can be loosely translated to something like, “I have love for you as God would want me to.” Or at least that’s how I took it. Like, For the sake of God, I am making you my brother/sister in faith. But… the love is not unconditional as many claim God’s love is. This love is conditional on you worshiping God the same way they do. (Kind of like when you go to certain churches and they call each other brother/sister… Like you’re supposed to be family now that you’re a “believer” or “saved”.)

  9. I can’t stand the phrase ‘I love you for the sake of Allah’, I feel it completely degrades you as a human being. We should love each other for who we are. Otherwise the love is fake and superficial.

  10. I read it like: in islam, the only reason why we live is to worship Allah. And so, you do everything for the sake of Allah. If you go to sleep early, you can just go to sleep because you want to party the next day, or you can go to sleep to be awake for the early morning prayer. This last going to sleep is a form of worship. So the same for ‘I love you for the sake of Allah’. You should love and show your love to the ones who are good in the religion. To me, this gives the feeling that the unbelievers are not worthy of your love since the only goal is to worship Allah, not waste time on the dunya. There are even other ahadith that say you should despise the deeds of the unbeliever and try to change them with action, if you can’t, then try to change with words, if you can’t then at least despise with the heart. Am I correct?

    For example, see also here:
    http://en-gb.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150171648548275&id=342303933230

  11. @Salina and Petals

    thank you for explanation. I always understood it this way: if a Muslim does sth wrong/sins, you still ‘love’ the person because that person at the end of the day is a Muslim. you love them because Allah commanded you to love your Muslim brothers and sisters.

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