Apostasy Or Being Human: Views From An Ex-Muslim Pakistani-American Feminist

I know I might get shunned by theocrats and conservatives for writing this, but I honestly do not care. The streets of Paris will never feel the same to me after the unfortunate murders at Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters. A grim shadow has been cast over the Eiffel Tower and continues to spread like an infectious disease to other parts of the world. I am of course referring to radical fundamentalism. Not to name any specific religion, but how about all of them? Now, I am not a basher in any way at all. On the contrary, I have many religious friends and family members that have a sane mental outlook. However, the problems with sane, faith-based outlooks are that they still have restrictive rules and bear no solid evidence other than man-made materials passed on over time, human to human.

Monotheistic religions tend to be at the forefront of many debates, wars, and deaths. Considering it is 2015, you would think people would be more rational and less opposing to secularism since science provides more evidence than any religious book, thus far. To refute the evidence that scientists have found over decades of intensive research should be a crime. Granted, humans are known for being imperfect and human error happens more often than finding articles on Kim Kardashian. Which leads me to my next thought: I feel humans have lost touch with being human. I am now considered by society an ex-Muslim apostate. You could not say that about me 25 years ago because liberals would pretend to be conservative for the sake of peace. Oh wait, that still happens! Let’s rewind a bit and go back to 1982.

I was born in Booth Memorial Hospital in Flushing, NY on December 24, 1982. The doctors said I was my parents “Christmas gift.” Of course my parents went along with it because they did not want to feel like immigrant outsiders that don’t know shit about American culture. You see, my mom was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan and my father was born in India and raised in Pakistan. Both my parents were religious and were raised in a similar way. Although they had an arranged marriage, they basically grew up together in the same neighborhood. To be frank, I’m against arranged marriages and I really don’t think I need to explain why, just use your brain for that one. If my parents stayed in Pakistan, they would have no choice but to be together. But they moved to New York, the craziest city in America — specially in the 80’s. Because they moved here, they eventually adopted American standards, which means they got a divorce — the first strike as a Muslim immigrant living in America. So how did they hide their divorce? By lying of course! Friends and family were hypnotized by lies because my mom and dad couldn’t just say, “Hey we are better as friends than husband and wife.” In Islam, it is easier for a man to divorce his wife than for a woman to divorce her husband. Yes, I am sure you know that women have many restrictions in Islam.

Reason number 1 of why I am an ex-Muslim

I was 7 years old when I decided, in my mind, that not just Islam, but all religions were bullshit. At that young age, I was able to decipher what was real and what was fabricated. Maybe it’s because I was the first-born and raised American in my family. Or maybe it’s because I did not pay attention in Sunday school. Or maybe it’s because I wanted to play with Barbie dolls instead of taking that dreadful drive to the Islamic school. Or maybe it’s because I knew that there was no angel named Gabriel. All I knew then was that I was scared. I was scared of all the religious texts and of the scolding I would get if I didn’t pay attention to the Molvi. That’s what they are intended to do — to put fear in us!

Reason number 2 of why I am an ex-Muslim

Growing up as a Pakistani-American free-thinker with a single mom who was a Muslim immigrant was not only a challenge, it cost us our relationship for some time. When you go to a public school in New York, you start to submerge in the culture. My parents gave me liberties, sure, but with consequences. I cannot put my finger on the reason why, but I just never followed rules. It wasn’t a rebellion thing. It was more like me wanting to change the imagery of how I was supposed to be by Muslim standards. The kicker is, not only was I a rule-breaker and a closet ex-Muslim, but I was also weird. I bought by first cassette when I was 10. It was the “Erotica” single by Madonna. Something about the way she sounded and the words she used in that song really stuck with me. Another reason why I liked it was because I knew I wasn’t allowed to listen to it even though in the back of my mind, I knew that it is human nature to feel this way about a song. After that, I just dove in head first into music and movies. My dad, rest in peace, was a genius with technology. He used to build me computers from scratch! He was very much a fan of films and American music so I have him to thank for my entertainment foundation. We went to Tower Records every weekend and he would allow me to buy two CD’s, and if I behaved or did well in school, he’d buy me three. That’s when CD’s were super expensive and a big deal. My dad never bothered me about my likes and dislikes. He never yelled at me or even grounded me. He loved me exactly the way I am. When he passed away in 2013, most people thought I would turn to religion for a piece of mind or clarity like it is some sort of savior or beacon of life.

Reason number 3 of why I am an ex-Muslim

Instead of finding clarity through religion, I took the time to learn more about heart disease and diabetes, the cause of my father’s death. After hours and hours of research, I decided I wanted to know even more so I enrolled in a Community College and took courses in Nutrition, Anatomy and Physiology, and Biology. Most of what I learned in Biology was an extension of what I learned in high school. Nutrition, however, was quite intriguing. It was something I was familiar with because, as a female, by nature you are conscious about weight and appearance. But I wanted to know the science behind nutrition. What foods the body digests the best. What foods are harmful and can cause deficiencies in the brain and overall function of the body. Or how the liver is one of the most organized and productive organs we have! It made me realize that we have little solar systems working inside of us every second of every day with no lunch breaks or cigarette breaks. They are constantly at work. How remarkable! Now to go beyond that and to say that there was a mastermind behind the making of the liver is where the questions start to rise. I am a person of reason. It is hard for me to believe in something that I cannot see, hear, taste, feel, or smell. My senses are not able to fathom an omnipotent being, so why are others falling under the spell of religion? It is because they feel they belong to something and because they are afraid of the idea of just dying without an afterlife or paradise waiting for them. To be direct, the fear of being mulch.

Reason number 4 of why I am an ex-Muslim

After my dad passed away and I learned all this new information in school, I made it a point to come out of the closet, for real. I told my mom, flat out, that I rejected her dogmas and insisted on being left out of religious family affairs. She still doesn’t get it. Oh well, I tried. The difference between my mom and I is, she worries about death and what will happen after and I don’t. It’s because I know what happens in the end. We end up being part of the Earth. I highly doubt that I will be laying in an unfashionable box waiting for angels to come and take my soul on the “Day of Judgement.” If that does happen, I am prepared for it with a little song and dance because if God created us, he must have a sense of humor! In all seriousness, it is fear that has made religion so popular. Fear and politics. I actually really hate politics, but unfortunately they ride parallel to religion in every avenue of life. Religion mixed with politics, yikes! With every religion, you will have a variety of followers. Not to give you a sour taste of expired milk in your mouth because we all know that every religion has its extremist followers, but the variety consists of some good people and some bad people. The bad people are the radical fundamentalists. You know, the guys you see on FOX News or read about on The Huffington Post.

Reason number 5 of why I am an ex-Muslim

When speaking about extremists, my blood boils. It is those imbeciles that have shattered the peaceful portrayal of the Muslim community. Now, I am not saying that I am in line with what the good Muslims believe in, but they do not deserve to be degraded or considered outcasts because they aren’t the ones causing physical harm to others. Extremists or fanatics are those that seek literal prophecy fulfillments, such as those that are affiliated with ISIS. This particular group claims to be devout Muslims, but real Muslims (the ones I know) can’t even go a day without giving money to charity let alone kill someone. So that is what I question. If you are so religious, why are you going against your religious scriptures? According to Islam, humans are not the ones to be judging one another, It is the almighty who will judge you. So why take it upon yourself to fulfill a supposed prophecy? Insanity. Clearly, these people are maniacs with machine guns. Who’s to blame for letting these maniacs obtain these machine guns? Government and politicians. Until greed and money disappear, humans will forever be in a power struggle with each other. Religion is the mother and father to politics, money, and power. Man invented many wonderful things like electricity and telecommunications, but they did one lousy job when they invented religion. There is no screening for being part of any religion. You are accepted the way you are — even if you are clinically insane. That is where the problem lies, and that is why it will continue to be the battle amongst our species for the next couple of centuries.

Concluding this with something political is not like me, so I will take it to a cellular level. The fact is, we are no different from one another. We all have blood pumping through our veins. We all have a mother and a father. We all want to survive. At the end of the day, we all end up six feet under. To use the proper rhetoric, just be a good human, because at the core of it all, that is who and what you are. Identify with being human not with being a Christian or a Muslim. Remember, the process of life is living organisms simply trying to survive as they exchange information and pass it on to the next set of living organisms over future generations. This is what matters. This is what is important. This is what makes us human.