Anyone leaving a close-knit belief-based community risks parental disappointment, rejection by friends and relatives, and charges of self-loathing. The process can be especially difficult and isolating for women who have grown up Muslim, who are sometimes accused of trying to assimilate into a Western culture that despises them.Funny, she isn't white too? Hey, I'm well aware that I am! But I can figure what she means by "good Muslim woman". It means being obedient, subservient, and other such oppressive concepts.
“It was incredibly painful,” Heina Dadabhoy, 26, said during a discussion called “Women Leaving Religion,” which also featured three former Christians and one formerly observant Jew, the novelist Rebecca Newberger Goldstein. “My entire life, my identity, was being a good Muslim woman.”
Ms. Dadabhoy, a web developer who lives in Orange County, Calif., and who often gives talks about leaving Islam, said the hardest part of the process was opening up to her family.
“The sense they got was where I was turning my back on them,” Ms. Dadabhoy said. Her parents accused her of thinking that she was better than her grandparents and other ancestors. “You think what you have is better than what we have? You think you’re like those white people,” Ms. Dadabhoy recalled them saying.
There are few role models for former Muslims, and although the religion’s history contains some notable skeptics, very few of them are women. Today, Muslim feminists like Irshad Manji and Amina Wadud advocate more liberal attitudes toward women in Islam, but neither has left the faith. And many atheists resist identifying with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-American (by way of the Netherlands) whose vehement criticism of Islam is seen, even by many other atheists, as harsh.I think this is where they turn dishonest. Please, do tell us about it. Even men aren't always open about being agnostics when faced with the threat of death for merely questioning Islam.
And Hirsi Ali's something of an atheist herself, thanks to the repellence of the religion she was once part of; no surprise that kind of stuff could turn anyone atheist, or just can't stand religion anymore.
They bring up Ex-Muslims of North America, and talk about a woman named Sadaf Ali, who said:
“As I started to investigate the religion, I realized I was talking to myself,” Ms. Ali said. “Nobody was listening to me. I had just entered the University of Toronto, and critical thinking was a big part of my studies. I have an art history and writing background, and I realized every verse I had come across” — in the Quran — “was explicitly or implicitly sexist.”I hope they don't talk to each other anymore at all. Ms. Ali is much safer that way. Too bad that the NYT won't acknowledge any of the Koranic verses that offended her and many other realists, but at the same time, no surprise they won't get into it. Still, this is important stuff.
Quickly, her faith crumbled.
“So in 2009, I realized there probably is no God,” she said. “What is so wrong in having a boyfriend, or having premarital sex? What is wrong with wanting to eat and drink water before the sun goes down during Ramadan? What is so wrong with that? I couldn’t handle the cognitive dissonance anymore.”
For the next three years, Ms. Ali thought of herself as an agnostic. She stopped practicing Islam. She still had Muslim friends, and her brother married into a religious Muslim family. Slowly, younger friends and relatives figured things out. “They didn’t seem to care that I wasn’t Muslim,” Ms. Ali said. “But I didn’t go around telling my parents.”
Eventually, her parents heard.
“They were incredibly upset, as they believe in an eternal hell,” Ms. Ali said. “They are O.K. with me for the most part being irreligious,” she added. “But we don’t talk much about it anymore, and that’s fine.”