This story is being posted on behalf of a member of the AAPN community. Our friend Adeel.
I am no different from anyone around me. Being born in a Muslim family I was no different from every other Muslim baby. When I was born my parents felt that I was blessing of Allah forgetting that in fact it was completely their effort. The first words I ever heard were “Azzan”, which is said in my right ear and ” Aqamat” which was said in my left. Being the first boy of the family I got a lot of love and attention from my family. This included religious indoctrination. While growing up the first word I learned was “Allah”. Muslim parents love to hear “Allah” as the first word from their baby’s mouth. When I learned to speak, the first class I had was about the Koran. I was like every other kid, waking at 5:30 AM in the morning to go to the nearby “Madrassa” (Islamic School) before going to primary school. Even primary school stressed religious instruction.
The girls, 5 to 5 years old, were supposed to wear “hijab” as part of their training. I was taught to pray when I was 7. We learned the prayers through nursery rhymes. We also attended a mandatory class called Islamic Studies. This was where we were brained-washed with Islamic stories and so-called Islamic values. We were not to question our religion nor its concept of a God. As I was to find out, there is no space for question in religion. Like every other Muslim child I was indoctrinated with their concept of heaven, about how beautiful it is and about the many beautiful women I would get if I lived my life acting on the rules of Islam. Like every other kid I was told that only Muslims are going to heaven because God loves only Muslims and he created heaven only for Muslims. Like everyone else I was told to hate other religions. I was to feel proud for being a Muslim. I was told how important it is for girls to wear hijab so that no man can see them. I was conditioned so well to accept this that I started to force the women and girls in my family to wear the hijab. As a teenager I joined Islamic groups who travel from city to city to invite people to Islam. I grew the beard and I was happy that I was born a Muslim; imagining myself going to heaven and getting 72 virgins gave me great motivation to become even more devoted to my religion.
This was all to change. It shocked me when I started to study other religions and I realized that every religion has the concept of heaven and hell, and every religion promises its followers to let them enter into heaven. I read that every religion tells its followers to hate other religions and that followers of every other religion are going to hell. This opened my eyes and really made me question my own beloved Islam. I began to see how all the Islamic sects spread hate against the other sects. The more I read the more the more I started to hate my own religion, to hate any religion. I tired of it all, though I didn’t lose my faith in God.
Then when I was 20 my grandfather had an attack of paralysis. I visited him in the hospital. That visit to the hospital was a game changer. I was walking through the childrens ward, thinking of my grandfather, when I heard some children crying in pain. This event really made me question my beliefs about God. I wondered how God could really exist if he could not help these children. After that visit I saw several accidents on the road. As I saw that they were all man-made accidents, it dawned on me that really God, too, is just a creation of man’s own mind. Later I began to see that this concept of a God is also something that is used to help rulers control the poor, for a few to exert power over the rest of mankind. I saw that religion is used to divide people and make them fight each other for personal gain and advantage.
So this is how I turned from being Suni Muslim to an atheist. I will never look back.
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