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Forging their own chains

The insidious thing about religious fundamentalism is that usually, you aren’t forced to accept it — you can’t be made to believe against your will. Instead, little nudges and suggestions lead you to willing embrace the beliefs, out of fear.

Kheir writes about all that he lost by becoming a fundamentalist Muslim.

For a long time, I agreed with my family’s conclusions. I took part in the decisions. I pushed them towards fundamental Islam. I practically shoved it down their throats. I showed the book I’d read to my mother, and when she ignored it, I pushed. I pushed until she gave in. I thought I was freeing my family from their hellish shackles, but in reality, I was just tightening them. The devil was not chaining them, I was; I chained my family to Islam. To Wahhabism. To Salafiyyah. At age 12, we threw aside our cultural music. At 14, I convinced her to wear dresses instead of pants. At age 15, we shunned our cultural artwork. At age 17, we destroyed our family photos. The chains grew tighter and tighter. The same chains that forced my grandmother to undergo female genital mutilation. The same chains that made my aunts wear the niqab, and made my uncles grow beards. The same chains that separated my family from me. I locked them in those chains, and I threw away the key.

It’s heartbreaking, but again, you can’t force people out of their chains.

Comments

  1. grumpyoldfart says

    That’s why I am never very impressed when an ex-fundamentalist boasts about his or her journey from zealous proselytizer to atheism. I have often asked them if they have ever gone back to try and rescue the people they converted. So far, not one answer.

  2. steve oberski says

    You can’t free them from those chains but you can point out that the chains are there.

  3. plainenglish says

    @ #1. grumpyoldfart: you are, indeed a stinker. I have never met someone who having survived fundamentalism and found their way to Atheism, began swaggering around bragging but I recognize a stinker fart who blame-shames in very much in the same way fundy Christian/Muslims do it. Fuck off.

  4. plainenglish says

    “The insidious thing about religious fundamentalism is that usually, you aren’t forced to accept it — you can’t be made to believe against your will. Instead, little nudges and suggestions lead you to willing embrace the beliefs, out of fear.”

    The word “usually” sets aside all children born into fundamentalist delusion? I guess you want to focus on only adults here and I support the intent but not where kids are concerned. We are born into a reality we loosely term family. That is our first world and we do not have a choice about it. We are not led as little ones by gentle nudges and suggestions but immersed. This immersion is not chosen but imposed. And it has a name: Love. Or is it Hate….? Jeez, I get them mixed up.

  5. says

    #3 plainenglish regarding #1 grumpyoldfart QFFT:

    I recognize a stinker fart who blame-shames in very much in the same way fundy Christian/Muslims do it. Fuck off.

    Seriously, OldFart, just telling their story is enough. And it’s their story and they have a right to tell it, often on social media where it will be read by their former converts. The ensuing conversations are often very personal and painful. Do you want them to check in with you after having those conversations?

    Please do fuck right off.

  6. Usernames are smart says

    I have often asked them if they have ever gone back to try and rescue the people they converted. So far, not one answer.
    — grumpyoldfart (#1)

    Unfortunately, the quote PZ posted makes it seem as if the author pushed his family into fundamentalism. He didn’t. Read the whole thing and you’ll understand.

    The last sentence of the full post is heartbreaking.

  7. Pen says

    It’s depressing when this kind of erasure takes place on a personal basis and also when the culture and history of whole groups of people is destroyed in the name of ‘purity’.

  8. estraven says

    Well, that was heartbreaking.

    You can try and rescue people, but if they don’t want to be rescued, there’s not a whole lot you can do. This guy is looking back and regretting things he thinks pushed his family further into fundamentalism, but he was not the only agent here. It’s very sad.

  9. Matrim says

    That literally made me cry. I’m sitting at a camp by the pool drinking soda with years running down my face. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to see your family become something “other” and know that you had a hand in doing it.

    They lost part of their humanity. And it’s my fault. I took away their humanity and sacrificed it to God.

    That line just rips my heart out.

  10. jamiejag says

    #4, plainenglish

    And it has a name: Love. Or is it Hate….? Jeez, I get them mixed up.

    The word you’re looking for is indoctrination. Brainwashing works too.