In recent months, Singapore has seen an increasing number of Muslims leave Islam. Most of those leaving Islam consider themselves “closet” ex-Muslims. Two Facebook pages run by this community, namely Singapore Ex-Muslim Confessions and Council of Ex-Muslims of Singapore – CEMS have seen a surge in their following. A Facebook group that has been set up to allow ex-Muslims to band together has seen a sharp rise in its membership numbers in recent months.
The admins of the Facebook groups mention that on average, they receive about 2-3 queries every fortnight on how to leave Islam.
Muslims who are considering leaving Islam face the possibility of being ostracised by their immediate social circles upon leaving their religion. Some are disowned for having different religious views.
Some leave Islam to be agnostics, atheists and/or humanists while some others switch to other religions like Christianity or Buddhism.
The reasons cited vary from individual to individual. They range from physical abuse, over-religious parenting and molest, to irreconcilable differences with humanistic values.
In the eyes of the law, these “closet” Ex-Muslims are officially still Muslims. Most of them also prefer to remain anonymous, citing reasons such as persecution by Muslims as a main reason. It is generally understood that under all main schools of thought in Islam, the penalty for leaving Islam is death. However, in Singapore, freedom of religion ensures that such a law is not implemented.
Some ex-Muslims consider themselves cultural Muslims, where the individual does not abide by the main pillars of Islam but still practices Islamic customs and rituals such as Hari Raya or attending Kenduris.
Some of those leaving Islam, were actually pious Muslims themselves. “I have learnt about the religion and have found so many things that I just cannot agree with myself. For example, oppression of women is explicitly stated on so many accounts in the Quran and the hadith” says an ex-Muslim who prefers not to be named.
Being the only one among religious and pious family members and friends can be a very isolating experience for “closet” ex-Muslims. However, ex-Muslims now have an online group where they can connect with other ex-Muslims “I used to think I was the only one who thought this way until I stumbled upon the Facebook page and Facebook group. ”
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