How I became an Atheist in Pakistan

Pakistani Muslim students attend a religious madrassa, or school, to learn the Quran, in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday, March 4, 2015. Religious schools in Pakistan, most of them in mosques, are the only source of education for thousands of children. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
The Badshahi Mosque in Lahore at dusk.

 

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.

Boys read the Koran in a madrasa, or religious school, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Kabul…Boys read the Koran in a madrasa, or religious school, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Kabul July 15, 2013. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani (AFGHANISTAN – Tags: 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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One thought on “How I became an Atheist in Pakistan”

  1. Dear Adeel
    I came across your article by chance. I a really sorry that you mistook contemporary muslims with the true islam. I agree with you that quite a number of so called muslims are absolutely disillusioned. To me their current attitudes , perspectives and behaviour is a mere distortion of Islam .True Islam is based on love not hate ,on the unity of mankind not divisions based on colour,race or creed. Sectarianism does not represent true Islam.further more true islam calls us to respect the people of the book who are faithful and do good . god rewards all faithful people whether jews ,christians or muslims. Actually islam is the religion of all prophets and messengers from adam ,to Noah ,to Abraham ,Moses Jesus and Mohammed ,peace and blessings be upon them all .In the Holy Quran God says that He told prophet Mohammed about some of the prophets and messengers and that there are some messengers that God did not tell him about. one famous book which my late mother read was called “The Great Religions by Which Men Lived” .It depicted the story,origin and essence of the great religions and how some of the followers later distorted their faith. My dear late mother believed that true faith is like a square or round about with many roads leading to it. If one stood at the beginning of the road and did not move deep enough to reach the center ,one will not realise that all other roads lead to the center. Thus one may become fanatic ,prejudice and narrow minded.there is aver good book which I read in my youth called “Man does not stand alone” .Throughout my life I witnessed God’s glory and mercy even at times of seeming hardship and sorrow.My younger and only sister has passed away some days ago after suffering from diabetes and liver cirrhosis. I do miss her but feel that God chose to call her to His side at the right time for her and for us.May God’s mercy and peace rest on her soul and may He grant us peace and comfort. Amen. We have a prayer that means . May our life on earth be bountiful with all what is good ,and may death be a comfort from all evils or mishaps. We cannot see electricity but we can feel and see heat and light resulting from electricity. we cannot see God but we definitely feel His presence and Mercy. I like very much the serenity prayer “God give me peace at the things I cannot change,courage to change the things I can change and wisdom to see the difference.”
    One great scholar ,Dr. Abdel FatahTeera.an Egyptian professor of medicine,was once asked “Does man have a choice? “.Dr. Teera’s answer was an analogy of astronauts and a space ship. he said that there are three types of control : direct control, cybernetic control and telecontrol.Some things happen in the space ship without any intervention from the astronauts. other things the astronauts have direct control over and other things are controlled at a distance from the earth base . so do our lives ,some things happen to us involuntarily like our heart beets or digestion , other matters we can chose to do and act upon while others are controlled by the almighty God ,creator of the universe. May god guide us to His path .May He help us relief the suffering of mankind Amen

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