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Wednesday, 9 January 2008

“Happy New Year!” (from a Muharram Murtad)

1st of Muharram 1429 AH — the start of the new year according to the Islamic calendar. Though, of course, due to bickering between parties and inability to resolve sightings of the moon it could take place tomorrow… At any rate, New Year, New Attitude, New Resolution, New Actions. I figured it would prove the perfect time to announce my apostasy from Islam. I went onto my favourite muslim forum (mainly due to some of the posters there), and announced I had turned murtad.

I simply don’t believe. Not only in Islam as a divinely–sanctioned religion, but in divinity altogether. I have read too much, seen too much the manmade origins of each religion, felt no divine presence throughout my life, seen the way nature doesn’t need a conscious guiding hand… I have seen and felt all this too much to give any credence to commonly–held notions of Divinity and Theism.

Some of the members there expressed sadness and shock, others incandescent rage and sneering hostility — and most of the latter came when I pointed out that the founder of Islam, Muhammad, sanctioned the death of apostates from Islam. At that point people acted as though I’d ‘done a Rushdie’ and one of the moderators closed my thread quicksmart. It interests me that the ultimate act of betrayal and evil (I had announced I do not believe in God) met with some shocked reactions, but only when I mentioned Muhammad did the moderator close my thread. Odd, that, don’t you think?

Only one of the members really touched me with her passion, her sincere regret, and her gentle and patient responses to my posts. A pity none of the others acted more like she did.

I don’t regret leaving Islam: I realise that I’d never lived particularly religiously though I’d tried damn hard over the past few years — but not hard enough. I didn’t pray the mandatory Salah prayers 5 times a day. In fact, I used to joke about myself as a ‘2 Salah Man’: ‘Eid–ul–Fitr and ‘Eid–ul–Adha! Needless to say, comments like that have never gone down well. Of course, I did used to preface any act of eating by reciting the basmala, and I catch myself occasionally doing so now, but those acts simply represent phrases and actions I’ve inculcated in myself but wish to abandon now.

A chap on another forum has tasked me with a list of actions I should complete in order to continue moving on in my life, eg. making a pot of chili and eating it, watching the sun rise, and suchlike. None of it far removed from the way I’ve lived my life normally — but I suppose working through the list will provide me with something specific to look forward to and even push me out of my comfort zone (one of the items involves telling an attractive stranger on the street that I think she looks beautiful).

I suppose I feel a loss of group identity in that I’ve grown up in a quite secular but nonetheless Muslim South Asian community, but I shall dig deep inside me and try to transcend that loss by relying on the force of my own beliefs and personal identity.

On with the programme…

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