Go Back   AFA Forums > Welcome > Coming Out Stories

Coming Out Stories Share the story of your path to Atheism.

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 26th November 2016, 11:21 PM
Life-Lover Life-Lover is offline
AFA Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 34
Default The story of an ex-muslim, ex-christian guy from Saudi Arabia

Greetings All,

As I have promised you guys when I introduced myself, I am now publishing my story of how I abandoned Islam to convert to Christianity and then later on abandoned all religions and became an atheist. My journey is quite long and took several years to evolve so bear with me

A bit of my childhood and background

I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Throughout my childhood and adulthood life, I would have never called myself a religious guy or a person who practices religion strictly. Throughout my life, I used to “sin” and do crazy stuff most of teens worldwide do.

For my elementary, intermediate, and secondary school, I attended a public school (not a religious one). Students who attend a religious school from their first grade (7 years old) are expected to memorize the whole Quran word by word from cover to cover (604 pages) by the time they turn 15!. Despite the fact I went to a public school, around one third of the classes I took revolved around religion.

So since I was in my first year of elementary school (7 years old), I was exposed to superstitions on a daily basis. Many of them were scary like the punishments in hell, the snake that will visit you in the grave to suffocate you if you don’t pray on time, melted boiling bullet puts into your ears in hell if you listen to music, etc. Hearing these stuff from an early age can lead you to fear even doubting. Even when I was sinning in my teen years or performing a prayer after its due time, I used to feel scared, anxious and worried. All of that can explain why I was always reluctant to question or say anything against god.

For my family, my father is liberal and not religious unlike my mother who was a Quran teacher. My father believes in god and Islam but he was barley practicing. He always says the most important thing is how you treat people and treat yourself. He used always to say it is enough to only do the bare minimum of religious practices but most importantly have morals and treat people well. On the other side, my mom used always to push me to go for the next mile and attend Quran Teachings in mosques after school. But overall, my father’s point of views was more present in the house and influenced me more while growing up.

Pursuing my undergraduate degree in the U.S.

After I graduated from high school, I went to the United States to get my undergraduate degree. In the United States, I met people from different backgrounds, religions, and points of view. Although religion wasn’t my favourite topic to talk about at that time but from time to time some people were asking me questions like (why did prophet Mohammed marry nine ladies at the same time while in Islam men are allowed to marry only up to four women, why did Mohammed become violent when he immigrated to Madinah while he was peaceful when he was in Makkah, etc). At that time, I was always telling them I am not an expert and they should ask someone expert in Islam. These doubtful questions always made me uncomfortable. I was always afraid I would be punished for these kinds of doubts and questions although I was not the one asking them. Then, I took a critical thinking course and learned more about fallacies. I was always taught in schools in my childhood that it is haram (forbidden in Islam) to read or study philosophy as it teaches you not to believe in god. Fortunately, the critical thinking course was a mandatory one to be able to take upper level courses of my major. My critical thinking professor was always encouraging us to apply critical thinking and look for fallacies whenever we read or hear something. So, I started to do what he recommended us to do, but every time I apply critical thinking into Quran, a hadith (sayings of prophet mohammed), or a story in Islam, I get scared and I completely stop thinking about fallacies. After a while (few months), I started to tolerate the idea of looking at religious textures and teachings critically. Unsurprisingly, I found many contradictions, fallacies, and violent verses there! At that moment, I couldn’t believe I was believing in delusions. Of course, at that time I couldn’t fathom or even think there is no god or creator for this universe but I was totally confused. A few weeks later, a minister knocked at my door and started to talk to me about Christianity. I have always been taught since I was young that Christianity is a corrupted religion (which is absolutely true). But, I started to think and say to myself “I have always been told that Islam is perfect and I just found out it is full of contradictions and fallacies, so why not learn more about Christianity”. The next day “which was Sunday”, I decided to visit the closest church to the apartment I was living at, which is a Catholic Church. So I decided first to attend their mass to see how their masses feel like then later talk to the priest or a staff in the church to ask him if there is a course to teach me more about Christianity.

My conversion to Christianity

I enrolled into the course the priest recommended me to attend. I was the only one not coming from the Christian faith. Everyone was already a Christian from a different denomination and the course was mainly designed for Christians wanting to become Catholic. As a result, I was the one asking most questions especially about Christianity in general. While attending that course, I was attending the mass every Sunday. I also purchased several books about Christianity. In addition, I was reading on the web during most of my free time about Christianity. Furthermore, I started to memorize verses from the bible and say Christian prayers before eating, praying the rosary on a daily basis, etc... In other words, I started to become more devout to Christianity and its teachings more than I have ever been to the teachings of Islam. Even my alcohol drinking habits, going to parties, and trying to hook up with girls started to decrease remarkably (I started drinking and dating since I was a Muslim). While I was in the United States, most of my friends (~70%) of them were from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States. The other 30% were from the US and international students not from the Middle East. After I started to become more devout to Christianity, I started to avoid meeting my friends from Saudi and other gulf states. Despite the fact those friends were not religious (I never had a religious friend throughout my life) but they sometimes (~20% of the time) pray. If they pray, it would be too risky for me to pull off and say “sorry guys I don’t want to pray”. Thus, I started to meet them only at night after all prayers were due. They started to notice that I no longer hang out with them as much as I used to and they asked me several times if anyone has made me mad or sad. I was always assuring them I don’t have any problem with them but I am busy with studying.

Doubting the Christianity faith

Around seven months after devoting most of my time to Christianity, I was still having unanswered questions and doubts especially the original sin. After reading the Bible and hearing the Bible stories from my instructor, I started to find A LOT of similarities between Islam and Christianity. Many of the fallacies, stories, violent and hateful teachings were almost the same. I started to become deeply depressed and frustrated. Stories said in Genesis and Exodus are almost 90% the same as what the Quran said about creating the universe and prophets’ stories. I also realized the existence of the hateful, violent teachings the Bible preaches. As well as restricting women from their freedom as in 1 Corinthians 11:6 “For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head”. My mind could not believe the delusion I was in for the past seven months. I was saying “How come I left a superstition to immerse myself into another one”. For the next several months, I was in a bad mood and very depressed as I could not figure out what was going on. As a result, I became anti-social and avoided meeting everyone including my fellow countrymen, guys from the Church and even my non-muslim friends.

One day, after I left one of my classes at the university, I saw a large crowd entering a big hall. I looked at the board next to the hall door and I saw an advertisement for an event by an Anthropology professor about the evolution. At that time, I had no idea what evolution was. All what I have heard about it from my religious teachers in high school is that it claims we were ape and it is completely wrong. Out of curiosity, I decided to attend the event as it was open for everyone. The professor started to talk about how science answered people’s questions, about the origin of the universe, how earth became its current shape, natural selection, etc… He backed up all of these teachings and claims with a scientific evidence and his lesson was very logical. When I left that event, I was feeling relived. I said I might finally found the answers to my questions and doubts. I spent the next few days researching on the internet and watching videos on Youtube about the evolution. I started to become more convinced that all religions are lies. From that time, I considered myself an atheist and not a believer in any religion.

Time to go back home

A year after I abandoned all religions, I graduated and got my Bachelor Degree. It was time to go back home. In my last few days in the United States, I was constantly thinking about how my life in Saudi Arabia would look like as an atheist. When arrived to Saudi Arabia, I was really sick and bored from hearing or seeing anything religious. A few months after I arrived to Saudi Arabia, my family and a few of my relatives noticed how I no longer pray. Sometimes (very rarely) I pretend I am praying just to show off and keep them silent. They always tell me how important it is for a Muslim to pray on time. Many conversations with other people that involved religion and superstations made me sick but I have always managed to keep silent and nod my head in agreement with whatever they say. My contribution to such conversations were minimal. I sometimes drive around during prayer times to satisfy my mom and tell her I went to the mosque but in fact I was roaming around. Even at work, I started to avoid being in the office a few minutes before prayer time and sometimes I leave my workplace so that I don’t have to pray and I always tell them I pray in a mosque that is a bit far away from work. Nevertheless, I sometimes get very busy at work and don’t realize it is prayer time until it is too late. So I have to go and pretend I am praying with them. I pray side by side with my colleagues. During my pretended prayers, when my head touches the ground (they say the time a muslim is closest to god is when his head touches the ground). While a prayer’s head touching the ground, he/she is supposed to say in Arabic three times what it means “Glorify the lord almighty” but instead every time I pretend praying and my head touches the ground and I am very close to so called god I say instead three time “superstations and myths” LOL. Another dilemma faced in Saudi Arabia is the pressure you get by your family and relatives to marry. The arranged marriage is the way almost 90% of people get married in Saudi Arabia especially in conservatives, tribal societies like the case for me (my tribe is well known for preserving its customs and traditions). If I get married, my wife for sure would know I am atheist. It is very hard to pretend to someone who lives with you all of the time!. The marriage topic caused me not to meet my relatives that frequently to avoid talking with them about it and I always tell them “I am very busy these days at work” to try to escape from this kind of conversations. The month of Ramadan is also a struggle for me. As you might know, Muslims in Ramadan are not supposed to eat or drink from the sun rise until the sun sets. The time of Ramadan changes every year due to the differences between the Islamic calendar and Georgian one (the year in the Islamic calendar consists of 354 days). These years Ramadan falls in June/July months, which is extremely hot in the part I live in Saudi! Luckily I live by myself in an apartment as I work in a different town from where my parents and relatives live. So I usually drink plenty of water and have a light breakfast before heading to work. These are some of my struggles that I have been having as an atheist in Saudi Arabia. In addition, the fear that someone might find out my religious affiliation and report it to the authorities or if my relatives find out they for sure would kill me.

I can’t reveal my current location for safety purposes. That means I can be currently in Saudi Arabia or in any part of the world.


Thank you very much for reading my story.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 27th November 2016, 07:27 AM
bruce1937's Avatar
bruce1937 bruce1937 is online now
AFA Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Kilmore
Posts: 2,712
Default Re: The story of an ex-muslim, ex-christian guy from Saudi Arabia

Thank you for telling your story.
It makes me feel lucky to live in a society that although still enamored with religion does not enforce it.
__________________
The meaning of your life, is what you choose to make it.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 27th November 2016, 08:38 AM
knowledge is power's Avatar
knowledge is power knowledge is power is offline
Proceed at own risk
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Still in bluddy Sydney
Posts: 1,829
Default Re: The story of an ex-muslim, ex-christian guy from Saudi Arabia

Quote:
Life-Lover said View Post
if my relatives find out they for sure would kill me.
This makes me want to cry.
Know this, there are many atheists like you in Saudi, maybe even in your street. You are not alone.
__________________
“It's not my responsibility to be beautiful. I'm not alive for that purpose. My existence is not about how desirable you find me.” ― Warsan shire
“Human beings have rights and are entitled to respect. Ideas, books, and beliefs don’t, and aren’t.” ― Ali A Rizvi
Reply With Quote
Like DanDare, SEG liked this post
  #4  
Old 27th November 2016, 09:15 AM
Goldenmane's Avatar
Goldenmane Goldenmane is online now
Cuss-tard
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Posts: 7,395
Default Re: The story of an ex-muslim, ex-christian guy from Saudi Arabia

Thank you for your story. Seems you've got it tough.

Sent from my SM-G925I using Tapatalk
__________________
-Geoff Rogers

@Goldenmane3

Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 27th November 2016, 09:30 AM
wadaye wadaye is offline
AFA Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 4,661
Default Re: The story of an ex-muslim, ex-christian guy from Saudi Arabia

Thank you for actually making the step to discard harmful beliefs even at the risk to your life.
We, that is humanity, needs more people to do as you have done.
__________________
"I'm an ape, I'm an African ape and I'm proud of it, and you should be too". Richard Dawkins
Reply With Quote
Like DanDare liked this post
  #6  
Old 27th November 2016, 12:04 PM
pipbarber's Avatar
pipbarber pipbarber is offline
AFA Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 3,069
Default Re: The story of an ex-muslim, ex-christian guy from Saudi Arabia

Good for you life-lover. 'Superstitions and Myths'...great stuff. It must surely suck having to pray but at least you know its meaningless. I suppose it makes people around you happy if you do it so there is that thought that may occasionally help.

Do you have some non believing friends you can confide in and hang out with sometimes? I imagine it would be a great comfort to be able to speak your mind and just say what you think out loud every now and then. If not i guess you've got this forum. Stay safe.
Reply With Quote
Like DanDare, SEG liked this post
  #7  
Old 28th November 2016, 01:00 AM
Strato's Avatar
Strato Strato is offline
What Me Deluded?
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: The Bellarine, Geelong.
Posts: 5,615
Default Re: The story of an ex-muslim, ex-christian guy from Saudi Arabia

Your story makes absorbing reading Life Lover. Yours is a tough and rigid society. You say if your family finds out about your intellectual life, you could or would be killed. This is absurd for someone not in your world. We are used to hearing about this. It is not normal. It is extreme and is evidence of a society in deep trouble.

I trust you will stay safe. Don't come to where you are now only to be killed for it. No one wins. You have to live this double life. Can you leave? Can you go overseas again to undertake more study, so that academic credentials and qualifications will secure you legal entry into a free country? The world is becoming more hostile to emigrants from the Middle East. I feel for you.
__________________
We can know something only if it is both true and knowable, Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, 2011.
Reply With Quote
Like DanDare, SEG liked this post
  #8  
Old 28th November 2016, 08:31 AM
wadaye wadaye is offline
AFA Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 4,661
Default Re: The story of an ex-muslim, ex-christian guy from Saudi Arabia

The other option of course is to claim protection on grounds of religious persecution, persection because of the religion of the persecutprs and lack of belief on your part
__________________
"I'm an ape, I'm an African ape and I'm proud of it, and you should be too". Richard Dawkins
Reply With Quote
Like knowledge is power liked this post
  #9  
Old 28th November 2016, 08:49 AM
pipbarber's Avatar
pipbarber pipbarber is offline
AFA Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 3,069
Default Re: The story of an ex-muslim, ex-christian guy from Saudi Arabia

Quote:
wadaye said View Post
The other option of course is to claim protection on grounds of religious persecution, persection because of the religion of the persecutprs and lack of belief on your part
Easier said than done i think wadaye. Generally you have to have actually been persecuted (imprisoned etc) prior to making a claim. Without that there would be an almost impossible burden of proof. However, i'm sure it varies from country to country. These people may have better info

https://secularpolicyinstitute.net/p...sylum-program/
Reply With Quote
Thank SEG thanked this post
  #10  
Old 28th November 2016, 01:10 PM
WesternGeo's Avatar
WesternGeo WesternGeo is offline
AFA Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Perth, WA
Posts: 573
Default Re: The story of an ex-muslim, ex-christian guy from Saudi Arabia

LL that was a gripping account of your journey and I am glad you shared it with us. People like yourself are much braver than people like me who when rejecting religion do not face any real consequences. Your position in SA sounds untenable though and you will miss out on having many things we take for granted, would you consider moving? Remember that we only have this one life so have to make the most of it.
Reply With Quote
Like DanDare, SEG liked this post
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +11. The time now is 03:59 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Feedback Buttons provided by Advanced Post Thanks / Like (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2018 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.