The earliest memory of me truly praying was in front of a refrigerator. Yes, really, in front of a humming and very warm fridge (it might be breaking down, now that I think of it). I had an awful nightmare about death. In it, my cousin and I died very young. We were still in our early forties. I woke up, in tears, headed to the fridge, and bargained with it. I must have been only five years old.
Prayers have always been comforting to me. Being able to just ramble on about life and stuff to something you can’t see. That is how I prayed.
I identify as a pantheist now. to me (fuck dictionary terms), it means someone who feels divinity in the universe. I do not see a personal diety, an actual one god, or gods but i do feel this “awe” when i look at the universe.
That brings me to another memory of when I was seven. On the school bus, on the way home, I remember the trees, the slight breeze, how far away my screaming schoolmates sounded and I felt this peace. i didn’t call it God back then and I still don’t.
A little background about my life and family then, since that’s the one question Muslims ask when they hear that I am an apostate. Actually, its more often like “your parents never taught you, right?”. Spare them even if they never spared me, I would say.
I went to a part-time madrasah thrice weekly till about I was fourteen. I can read the Quran quite fluently although i never picked up Arabic. I found the language to be too tedious what with the gender specific nouns even for objects ( come on! ). On top of that, I went for ngaji (recital) classes after normal school. My favourite subject was Sirah (History) and that was because it was taught by a really really pretty Ustazah. (oh, by the way, I dont identify as straight.)
Learning to be a good girl
My mom taught me that good girls don’t smoke, drink or wear skimpy clothes. Instead, they listen to their parents and do not speak back. The lessons she taught me got physical half the time. Flying hot woks, cili padi and pails were not uncommon. Good girls pray five times a day, fasted, and never questioned God. Ironically, she was not a good example herself. The memories I have of her did not match what she says I should be. Kids should have people they can emulate right?
About three weeks ago, after my suicide attempt, I told my parents that I was no longer a Muslim. You can guess their reaction.
To my dad’s credit, he was pretty cool about it. At least, he did not go into much of a denial nor did he try to cajole me out of it.
And no, I did not try to kill myself because I do not have Allah. Please stop assuming, dear friend.
Dad was not around since ten. He went off in search of “the answer”, “god”, and to follow his “teacher”. My mom said he was a deviant, practicing syirik. Anything metaphysical is syirik to her – yet she went to a lady-bomoh to try to get dad back.
Dad said I was always a rebel. I questioned everything. and did everything I could get my hands on. As a child, i used to draw scary stuff; demons, old bald man with rotting mouths, whatever. Mom used to throw those drawings away. He just said that was what I was (and I still am. I still do those kinda art).
Dad was not a good example either. When we met and I repeated I was no longer a Muslim, I asked if he remembers that he used to beat me up with the tasbih. I told him I broke it the day mom told me he was ‘never coming back’. Dad had tears in his eyes and said “yes”, he remembers (parents do not ever apologise).
Anyway, I stopped believing when I was about seventeen.
A common theme with us murtads (at least the ones I know personally), we start questioning. A lot. We start researching a lot. We explore a lot. You will find that most of us have entered other places of worship, And if not, joined in whatever else they are doing, at least sat and observed. We searched within Islam and out of it. Most of us can tell you things about Islam you never knew (and a handful of us can point you to specific verses in the Quran and Hadiths)
And so, I came to the conclusion, there is no god. And if there was, she/he/they would see that I am a good person through and through. And that’s that.
I have two dogs; one blind from birth and another whose mommy died. I do not contribute to the Mosque Building Fund (yes, you can stop contributing to it if you want to), but I make it a point to go and find a new charity to give to the day i get my monthly pay. I fight for the less privileged.
I do not hate Islam nor Muslims, I just think it is flawed. It does not even have a good record at treating women. Nah, do not tell me it is because people misinterpret the religion. Read the book, women can be “disciplined” by their husbands. Gender equality, hello?
At that, Islam doesn’t work for me.
We, murtads do not want to be “saved”. We think we already are. at least, I do. I am able to do what I want to without fearing hell in the hereafter. My body is mine and if I want to decorate it with tattoos, I have all the right to. and yes, I know i will be an old woman with tattoos (if i don’t die at forty). So, what? I am that cool old woman who experienced stuff you never imagined. I am that old woman who knows she has changed the world in her own little ways.
We murtads don’t want to be saved. We haven’t gone astray. We are the ones who are brave enough to make that move. and if you can see that, maybe we will stop being so anonymous. Yes, we know you wonder about us.
That’s a good start, my friend. wondering.