Religious trauma in ex-Muslims

CBT Today, the magazine of the British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies, recently published a feature on the psychological effects (fear of hell and guilt) in ex-Christians. Ed is writing an article on the effects in ex-Muslims. In response, Hassan Radwan writes: ‘Hell is one of the main reasons I left Islam and it is still an issue that I keep coming back to and have made videos about it on Youtube.

‘I was a devout Muslim for 48 years and the fear of Hell is something that runs deep amongst most Muslims – though they will never admit it.

‘The Qur’an is even more graphic than the Bible about Hell. Describing the tortures awaiting unbelievers in great detail. One can barely turn a page in the Qur’an without finding a reference to Hell.

‘It is nothing more than eternal torture.

‘I still find it hard to understand why in all the years I was a Muslim I could not see the absurd and impassable contradiction between a God who calls himself (in the Qur’an) “The Most Merciful of those who show Mercy” and eternal torture.

‘I used to make excuses – as I suppose many Christians do – that it was “metaphorical” and was in some way just a symbolic description of the pain one will suffer as a result of hurting others.

‘But it’s hard to maintain such a view in light of the graphic depictions of torture – even if one takes it as a metaphor – since it clearly indicates an unimaginably long period of unbearable pain and suffering for merely failing to believe in something that is open to reasonable doubt.’

If you want to make a contribution to the piece, email me at and I can forward to Ed.


  1. Upright Ape says

    Yes, as long as you believe, it is very real. Threat of hellfire feels no different to a believer than any threat of physical violence. And living in fear of hell is seen positively as it testifies to the strength of your faith in both islam and christianity. Hence the adjective “God fearing”.

  2. rwahrens says

    There is nothing more revealing of the early non-divine beginnings of both christianity and islam than this “god-fearing” nonsense.

    Both religions use the “metaphor” of a “lord” and “his people” in describing the relationship between god/allah and humanity (when they are not using the father/offspring metaphor). The problem with either of these is obvious when one examines the reality of both relationships in the context of the era in which both religions were founded.

    The lord/subject relationship is fraught with oppression, as the feudal system was based upon, at its most raw, the fact that almost all noble houses, in the beginnings of feudalism, were simply thugs that were stronger than the other thugs around them, so they survived. In essence, a warlord society. It was based on fear and the threat of force, both against one opponents and against the very real possibility of one’s own “people” supporting the stronger thug next door – or your own brother/son/cousin! This is NOT an image intended, in the beginnings of either religion, meant to invoke tender feelings of love and support.

    Likewise the father/offspring relationship in a culture where one’s offspring were assets to be traded or sold and thus to be controlled by force. Both islam and christianity support beatings of children in such control, and christianity even supports death to unruly teenagers! (islam may too, but I don’t have personal knowledge of any such verses in that religion).

    Again, not an image meant to invoke feelings of love and support!

    Fear is NOT a reliable method of control – one’s “subjects” will bolt at the slightest opportunity, so why would I support a deity who would resort to its use, even if there was any proof of his/its existence?

Leave a Reply