The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain tweeted a striking forum post from a year ago, titled Believing in Jihad and Martyrdom.
I lived my younger years wanting only one thing: martyrdom.
I wanted to die in battle, in the name of Allah.
I wanted the peaceful happy death that martyrs appear to experience with a smile on their face.
I didn’t care who I fought or why, as long as I was fighting for Allah under Islamically justifiable conditions.
Everything in this world was worthless in comparison. You die in the name of Allah, and you get a free pass from all the pain and suffering that awaits everyone else on Judgement Day. You go straight to heaven, and all your sins are forgiven.
There’s a lot to say about that, but one thing that strikes me is how oddly transactional it is. Toona (the author) is describing a bribe, rather than an ideal. The goal as described isn’t doing something good, but getting a big reward. In fact the ideal is explicitly rejected: I didn’t care who I fought or why. It’s not about trying to work toward any kind of good, it’s just about getting an instant one-way ticket to heaven and cancellation of sins.
It was his father who schooled him in this way of thinking.
Talking about the worthlessness of this life and the impending destruction that awaits civilization made me lose interest in having a normal life.
Now that is one of the things I hate most about the religious view of the world. It always at least risks teaching people that this life is worthless, and thus to lose interest in it. That may be a good thing for people whose lives are shit – because of pain, dire poverty, mental anguish – but for everyone else it’s a terrible cheat.
Talking about the suffering and torment that awaits the unbelievers in the afterlife made me live in complete terror of losing my faith.
And finally, talking about the joys of martyrdom made it seem like the only thing in life that’s worth fighting for.
That’s a sick little trio of beliefs.
It doesn’t take a genius to see how extremely fragile the logic of it all is, but I had to believe it. That is how I justified the morality of the Jihadist ideology, but the truth is, the purpose of Jihad is not meant to be mercy. The official purpose of Jihad, as stated in the Hadith, is so that Allah’s word would be dominant.
The scary thing is that, even though most Muslims don’t think like that, there are traces of this deadly ideology in more Muslims than you’d think, because it is taught in the Quran and the Hadith.
I’ve seen children talking about murdering unbelievers, and their parents thinking it’s cute. I’ve heard clerics praying for death and destruction upon all unbelievers, as everyone in the mosque says “Amen”. I’ve seen that even level-headed Muslims may go berserk when their religion is insulted, and call for the death of the blasphemer.
It’s also worth mentioning that a significant percentage of Muslims would say that they would rather see their children die than apostate, and the extremes they might go to stop that from happening are dreadful.
Toona, fortunately, escaped, but think how many don’t. It’s tragic for them and threatening for everyone else.
My worldview only started changing after I left home and became part of a more diverse community, and more so after regular exposure to various non-Islamic cultures through the internet.
The more time I spent with people from ‘the other side’, the harder it became to believe the things I did.
It took about 8 years for me to finally rid myself of all that brainwashing.
I could have easily gone a different way had the wrong people stayed in my life.
I was lucky to have found my way out of that darkness. It’s not always the case, but sometimes all it takes for a person to recover from such destructive beliefs is to be given the chance to appreciate the humanity of non-believers, and the beauty of life, which is probably why the founders of Islam did their best to discourage that.
What can one do but hope that more people find their way out of that darkness?