When I first apostatized from Islam, I found that some of my co-religionists made certain assumptions about me. Unable or unwilling to see that an individual may have valid and sincere reasons for questioning Islam, some told me that I was simply abandoning Islam and removing hijab because I wanted to follow the ways of this dunya and give into my nafs. When they were being less charitable they would call me a slut, a whore and say that I abandoned faith because I wanted freedom to chase men and be an alcoholic. As I read the deconversion stories of other muslimahs, I learned that my experience was by no means rare or isolated. The attempt to shame and silence apostates by slandering them in such a malicious and personal manner isn’t new. This disrespect annoyed me, but I chalked it up to yet another burden women are made to suffer by followers of certain faiths.
However as I continued to speak with fellow apostates from Islam and Christianity alike, I learned that men were not exempt from this slander either. A good friend of mine who left Christianity told me that people around him reacted the same way when he stopped believing. He was told he just wanted to “sin”, chase women, have a good time and indulge in his base pleasures. This accusation seems to be a common thread in the stories of former believers. Our former brothers and sisters in faith cannot believe that it is possible for us to live moderate and ‘moral’ lives apart from our old belief system and ascribe ridiculous behavior to us, with absolutely no knowledge or evidence to back up this assumption. Skeptics, agnostics and atheists are written off as wicked heathens, living a life ruled by the pursuit of vice.
In my case, and the case of almost all irreligious people I know, such accusations could not be further from the truth. And if it wasn’t for the fact that people so arrogantly accuse me of such things and believe they are right, I could have a good laugh at their audacity. My life is decidedly less colorful than my detractors assume it to be. For example, tonight my child is going to a sleepover and I will have the night to myself. After I drop her off, I won’t be heading to a club or bar. I won’t be calling a man over to keep me company. I won’t be trolling the streets for drugs. I’ll be at home by myself, drinking lemon tea and updating this blog.
When I stopped believing I didn’t think to myself: “YES, now I can go get drunk, do drugs, and fuck to my evil hearts content!” I still get up every day and take care of my child, striving to be the best parent possible. I still go to work and obey the laws of my nation. As for alcohol consumption-I don’t need the Bible or the Quran to tell me not to be a drunk. I choose to drink rarely simply because I value my liver and my life, and do not want to prematurely shorten my time on this planet. Drugs? As the child of a former addict, I’m intimately acquainted with the damage that controlled substances can do, and that alone is enough for me to stay away from them. Relationships and sex? I haven’t had a relationship in over year, am not dating or seeking to date anyone and I’m currently celibate. And whenever I do decide to become sexually active again, I know that it is not in my best interests-physically or emotionally-to engage in promiscuous and/or unsafe sex. Again, I don’t need to believe in a deity or a holy book to tell me these things.Common sense and science alike tell me that if I engage in promiscuous and reckless sex I will face sexually transmitted diseases and/or pregnancy, neither of which I want to experience.
Life didn’t became a drunken, meaningless orgy when I abandoned faith. It continued on. And even though breaking my chains has led to an exhilarating feeling of joy and relief at not being ruled by so much shame and fear, I have no desire to live the type of life that some believers assume skeptics want.And besides-if I really wanted to indulge in alcohol, revelry and sex I could have easily remained a Christian or a Muslim. I could have simply done what I saw others do-be reckless, commit “sins” and then repent for it after. Commit sins on Saturday night and then go to the altar on Sunday morning like others do.