Isolation from family members and straining of familial ties
This is admittedly the hardest part. We find ourselves at odds between being true to ourselves and our beliefs and not wanting to strain our relationships with our loved ones, the ones whom we have grown up with all our lives, the ones who have taken care of us since young, and whom, in return, we wish to care for and love. Due to the tribalistic nature of the religion, coming out as an apostate often means we are associated with anything that has to do with the devil and being led astray by this world’s appeal. Many of us can testify to facing strained relationships with our parents and other loved ones.
Loss of identities
Growing up in an Islamic setting, among Muslim friends and relatives meant that the primary identity by which many of us used to identify ourselves with was that of a Muslim first and for-mostly. At various stages of our transformation and apostasy, we start asking ourselves questions about our respective selves. “Who am I really?” or “What do I stand for?” are some common questions we face at some point or another. This may possibly lead to an identity crisis of sorts.
A drastic change in our perception of morality, what is right and what is wrong.
Most apostates face this when it comes to what they would normally consider to be right or wrong. The traditional conforming notions of what is right or wrong that we used to subscribe to are now questioned. Is eating pork right or wrong? What about eating animals in general? We no longer depend on what is being told to us to be lawful and what is not. An ulama no longer decides what we can consume and what we cannot or what we can do or we cannot do. Is premarital sex alright? We learn to decide these things for ourselves. Is genital mutilation or sunat still necessary in this day and age? What about the sacrifice of animals on Aidiladha? Are there better ways to contribute back to society in the name of remembering that day?
A fellow ex-Muslim once said, that when he exited Islam, things were no longer as clearly black and white as they once were. For a Muslim, it’s a simple matter of following what your elders or those in specific positions tell you. Do we still support a ruler who has been shown to be corrupted, despite having a strong Islamic backing from the fellow ulama’s in the country? It does not mean that we are devoid of any morality, rather, we develop our own sense of morality.
Isolation and straining of ties with friends.
In line with point #1, our most valued friends, upon coming out to them, start to distance themselves from us. One by one, we are avoided like the plague, for fear of being “influenced” and being led astray. This, despite various reaffirmations to them that we have no intentions of converting them out of Islam. Many ex-Muslims can testify to losing many of our friends whom we have grown up with, despite not having done anything else other than sharing that we no longer believe in the tenets of Islam. Years of friendship down the drains.
Constantly assumed to be a Muslim, being judged and being expected to adhere to its rules especially in public and social functions.
The male apostates stick out like a sore thumb on Fridays, when everybody else goes for prayers at the mosque. During the fasting month, many of us have no choice but to put up with glares from others who think that we cannot control our hunger pangs or urges to eat. Worse still, in situations where the ex-Muslim has not “deregistered” himself or herself officially from MUIS, he has to either put up a front in social gatherings so as not to arouse suspicion or embarrass his immediate family members or relatives or face the consequences of a backlash of being the black sheep of the family.
Freedom of thought
At the start, we tend to be apprehensive of entertaining what would be considered blasphemous thoughts. Some blame ourselves for even asking such questions pertaining to the religion or even god. Feelings of guilt often bring one back to the religion. However, for others, after awhile, we realise that only we are accountable to our own actions. The superstition that is closely attached to what one might think about losing his religion, like invoking god’s wrath upon himself starts to shred off.
A mix of negative feelings
Disappointment, anger, frustration. These are some of the feelings that we go through at different stages of our apostasy. Some of us get angry at how we were brought up. Others feel that we were betrayed into believing lies or what they would at that stage consider to be “untruths”. Frustration at losing our closest ring of friends is another critical factor. If unchecked, it is easy for an apostate to find himself in the doldrums.
We are associated with the devil.
To the religious, it may seem that we have succumbed to the temptations of the devil or satan. We have given up promise of a salvaged afterlife and are sellouts. We are seen as betrayers of our family members and friends. We are corrupt and will inevitably corrupt those who hang around us. For these reasons, a Muslim who fears for his life, or afterlife, would eschew apostates. He may fear that his iman may not be strong enough to prevent himself from suffering the same fate as us.
For those considering leaving Islam, the journey can be one fraught with isolation from friends and family members, depression, anxiety and existential crises. You are not alone. There are many others just like you in Singapore and around the world. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us at our Facebook page. Your identity will not be divulged to anybody else. Alternatively, create a separate Facebook account to contact us.