Kiran Opal has marked International Women’s Day by putting together accounts by 17 ex-Muslim women on her blog.
For those of us who have left Islam as a faith and as an identity, the pressure to stay silent is intense. For many ExMuslims, the price for speaking out about their skepticism, atheism, or agnosticism, is often very high. There is no one monolithic Muslim identity; there is nothing essentially, inherently “Muslim” about someone born into a Muslim family. Yet, for too many people, Islam has become a racialized identity. Many Muslims and non-Muslims see the Muslim identity as a race, not just a doctrine. Although ExMuslims, whether ‘out’ or ‘closeted’, do not identify as Muslim, others often insist on imposing this identity on us.
What are the privileges you do NOT have as an Exmuslim woman that you did have as a Muslim woman? (e.g. speaking openly about your beliefs, etc.)
Taslima: I no longer have the luxury of openly speaking about my beliefs and opinion of Islam without offending my family and friends. My family makes sense, because they are Muslim, but as an ex-Muslim woman, I am more or less culturally pressured into silence by a lot of American “progressive” friends who will openly tell me to “stop being so Ayaan Hirsi Ali”.
What are the privileges you DO have as an Exmuslim woman that you did not have as a Muslim woman?
I’m freer than I would have ever been had things not gone the way they did ten years ago. I get to experience life to the fullest – the good and bad. I know what it’s like to fall in love, to be in a relationship, and to fall out of love or have my heart broken. I know what it’s like to try to make ends meet while working paycheck-to-paycheck. My friends hop, skip, and jump from longitude to longitude. I get to travel freely, explore freely, and think as much as my mind wants without the threat of hell or shame from a fake community.
The day I left Islam was the day humanity and science released me from the hell of religious solitary confinement.
I get to hug a dog and fall in love with him because he’s a beautiful soul – without horrifying screams from Muslims about washing my hands seven times to get rid of the pup’s kisses.