Do ex-Muslims hate Muslims?
January 12, 2023
Some people think that as atheists, ex-Muslims must harbor some anger, even hatred, towards their former communities.

Some people think that as atheists, ex-Muslims must harbor some anger, even hatred, towards their former communities. But while they have criticisms and frustrations about the faith, ex-Muslim often have a different relationship with believers. 

The ex-Muslim relationship to their former community is a hotly debated one. Do Muslims see ex-Muslims as traitors? Do they look down on members of their old faith? And most of all, many wonder: do ex-Muslims hate Muslims?

The short answer? No, they don’t. Here are 5 reasons why. 

1. Ex-Muslims were once Muslims!

Before they left the community, they were a part of it. It seems intuitive, and yet you’d be surprised how often this claim of “hate” gets leveled at former members of religious groups. An ex-Muslim is simply a Muslim who, somewhere in the process of skepticism and introspection, found a different path to meaning and morality. Additionally, ex-Muslims used to–and often still do–experience anti-Muslim bigotry, and have a great deal of empathy for the discrimination and harassment Muslims experience.

Of respondents in our Apostate Report (59%) said feeling disconnected from the Muslim community didn’t factor into their decision to leave. Less than half (40%) called it a contributing factor, and less than 2% called it the most important factor.

2. Ex-Muslims are often still connected to Muslim communities

Muslims are still our families, friends, and loved ones. Many ex-Muslims even have Muslim spouses who agree to disagree on religion. Being ex-Muslim is a personal choice to leave behind the religion; it does not mean they leave behind people they care about. Take away religion, and there are a host of cultural experiences that still connect the two groups. Many actually continue to conceal out of love for, or fear of their families. 

“[I conceal] to protect my father from feeling sad. He is too old and there is no benefit of dragging him through emotions and issues he cannot understand.”

Apostate Report respondent

3. All Muslims are potential ex-Muslims

Not everyone is going to abandon their beliefs (and we don’t expect them to!), but all Muslims have the potential for doubt and skepticism, and we want to be there for those who do. We don’t harbor hate towards those who used to be us

4. If anything, Muslims are obsessed with us

“Murtads.” “Kafirs.” 

On both individual and systemic levels, ex-Muslims are targets of persecution in Muslim communities. Ex-Muslims only want to challenge Islam, but fundamentalist interpretations of Islam would see them dead (in 13 countries, apostasy is punishable by death). Leaving religion has always been taboo. Even for ex-Muslims in the West, speaking about their experiences normalizes them, so questioning or closeted ex-Muslims don’t feel alone. 

Hate towards ex-Muslims around the world is real and measurable.

5. Debate isn’t hate

When ex-Muslims publicly challenge Islam, they’re inviting discussion and critical thought. Ex-Muslims respect Muslims enough to want better for them. And certainly–not every Muslim will leave the faith, but even those who remain religious can be part of reforming the bigotry within Islam, towards ex-Muslims, women, and other minorities. 

When ex-Muslims engage in criticism, it’s because they know Muslims are better than the most fundamentalist interpretations of their faith. 

Encouragement to think isn’t hate, it’s a sign of respect.

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