The following is a guest contribution by “Anna Kafra.”
(a story of mental gymnastics)
I never chose to be Muslim. Most of us don’t even if we do defend it any chance we get. I was a big defender.
We’re taught at an early age that there is no god but Allah. Mohammad is the messenger of Allah.
We’re taught that Allah is the greatest, creator of everything, and that it’s haram to ask why or how, or to deny this.
We’re taught that it’s better not to know some things, because knowledge can be bad.
We’re taught that haram means it will send you to hell. To eternal torture. To walking on hot coals that will boil your brains.
Is it any wonder that most Muslims are blindly faithful?
Here in Saudi Arabia, we’re indoctrinated into it. And it works so well. When the brainwashing starts from birth and everyone around you believes it too, it’s impossible to budge.
I grew up strongly believing in Islam, even while I thought there were massive holes in the plot. Why does Allah depend on just one guy every so often to spread his message? That isn’t fair or just. Mohammad can’t reach everyone personally, especially after he you know… dies.
And Allah is fair and just. He said so himself. Everyone will be judged fairly, on yawn al-giyama (Day of Resurrection).
Of course, that just means that everyone else isn’t real. This is all a test for me; everything and everyone in the universe is just there to create the circumstances of my life. And Allah created many copies of this, to test all the versions of me and send them to janna (Heaven) or jahannam (Hell).
That was my childhood’s version of Islam, until I realized that that wouldn’t be completely fair either. The versions of me at 40 could have drastically different lives if I made different decisions at 20. Staying away from drugs (a big haram) because I’m not interested is not the same as staying away from them after battling addiction.
Even then, I believed. Allah is greater and bigger than everything; he’ll know how to calculate judgment fairly. Okay, then, forget the many-me theory. Everyone is real, we’ll just get judged differently. Allah can do that.
But why are we judged at all? Allah created us, and the angels wrote down each of our stories before we were born. Allah created our minds and personalities and everything we’re exposed to, which means he created our destinies and choices. As hard as I tried, I could not believe in both free will and Islam. So I just… ignored this and never thought of it again.
None of these thoughts gave me any doubts that everything I was taught was true. Not even during the time that I sort of believed that Allah was a kid who wasn’t allowed to play creation but did anyway, and when his mom walked into his room he hastily hid us away and forgot about us. This explained why an all-powerful god would want to be worshipped (he’s immature), and why there are so many injustices and so much misery in life (he neglected us). These were haram thoughts, but I couldn’t help but think them. I tried my best not to.
And then, at 18, I was forced to wear the hijab and chose to start praying. The longer I did that, the shittier I felt. Religion was a test created by some asshole psychologists that wanted to see how long people would willingly torture themselves for no palpable reward.
Allah is real, and an asshole. Why do I have to cover my body like this, and show it only to my husband? He created me solely to be the object of someone else’s sexual amusement. I hated Allah then. I became a different person. I became jealous and did not want anyone to enjoy life. I wanted everyone to be Muslim and muhajjaba just like me. I got mad when men looked at women. It irritated me when women were sexy. It pissed me off when Muslims did any kind of sin. I hate that I was this way, and I hate admitting it.
Praying took over my life. I didn’t do it excessively or even well, but just knowing that I’d have to do it at a certain time drove me crazy.
I slept early so I wouldn’t miss Fajr. I didn’t eat or drink at school so I wouldn’t have to do another wudu for Dhuhr and Asr. I wouldn’t go for a run after Asr because Maghrib came so close after, and praying outside is too much trouble.
I didn’t do this out of love for the religion. I felt like a prisoner.
At this point I believed both in Islam and that whatever you expect to find when you die is what will happen. That Allah created your brain to work in such a way that when it goes out, your neurons will release a chemical that will show you whatever you expected. That way all the religions and none of them are true. It was just my bad luck that I was born into Islam.
And I couldn’t walk away from it. I told myself that I had two two-sided dice, one saying Muslim/Not Muslim, and the other saying Islam is True/Nope.
There’s four possible outcomes here, two of them bad. I could either live Muslim and hate my life, then turn to dust and nothing else will matter. Or I could turn kafra (disbeliever) and go to hell forever. What would you choose? Are you a gambler?
I sure as hell wasn’t.
And then I met a Saudi who left Islam. A Saudi Ex-Muslim! How did he do it? I don’t know. I never asked. I don’t remember how I answered his questions, but he told me I seemed like I was already kafra but scared to admit it. I didn’t deny that.
The funny part is that try as he might to convince me, I still wouldn’t make the leap. The thing that finally pushed me over the edge, at 23, was talking to a Muslim who loved Islam, and seemed to have actually read about it. He said his only problem with it was that you can’t know for sure which parts came from Allah and which were made up. That wasn’t a new realization for me, but somehow, hearing it after meeting a Saudi ex-Muslim was like… I don’t know. My kafra button was pushed. Islam deactivated. I don’t have to keep doing this.
I didn’t pray Isha that night. It was my first night of freedom.
My sister tells me I can’t just deny all of Islam without reading about it or looking into it like, you know, a smart person. I disagree. I don’t believe that if a creator wanted to tell me something, it would be on me to look for it.
I don’t believe that a creator would need to be worshipped.
If there is a god, I can’t believe that it’s an omnipotent, omnipresent god that loves us. One or two of the three, maybe. All together? Impossible.
I don’t care about the dice anymore.
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