Were ex-Muslims FAKING their belief?
August 5, 2022
That’s what some say, at least, to discredit ex-Muslims when they come out.

Once-Muslims come out as atheists, to the ire and disappointment of those who share their former faith. But rather than confront the issues that might lead people to leave the faith, it’s easier to just brand apostates as “fakers,” who never really belonged to the community. That way, they don’t have to question their own belief, logic, or morals. 

But this convenient “never real Muslims” explanation isn’t really true. Here’s why.

  1. Ex-Muslims tend to leave because they understand Islam 

For many ex-Muslims, the journey of leaving Islam starts with reading the Quran and learning more about the religion. Some ex-Muslims were devoted religious scholars - some were even former imams who memorized the entire Quran! Other ex-Muslims left more for scientific or moral disagreements. 

Rather than turning away from Islam, when they start having doubts, many ex-Muslims turn towards it. As they start looking for answers, many end up reading the Qur’an even more attentively. Three quarters of respondents in our Apostate Report reported that it was internal contradictions in Islamic scriptures that contributed most to their decision to leave the faith, and a further 9% described this as the most important factor. Turns out, the more you read a religious book, the less sense it actually makes. 

Nearly 30% described themselves as equally devout as their family, and 35% described themselves as even more devout. About a quarter (24%) reported having prayed “as often as possible” and 21% reported having prayed “all the time.” 

“I could not justify the hate in the scriptures (Qur’an and Hadith) towards non-Muslims (Kufaar), when I had met so many good people who were not Muslims.” 

25-year-old female

“I wanted to “do my research” to be able to refute people who said Islam was an oppressive and backward religion), which I believe ultimately culminated in my conclusion that Islam, like other religions, was man-made.” 

32-year-old female

  1. The ‘No True Scotsman’ argument is used to discredit dissent in every religion 

“No True Scotsman” is an argumentative fallacy, and it’s everywhere. 

“Real Star Wars fanshate the sequels.” 

“Real Islam isn’t violent.” 

The fallacy is also, in this case, used to shut up former members of a community and dismiss their experiences under the premise that they were never legitimate members of that community. Ex-Muslims, and the variety they come in, challenge this simply by existing. 

Ex-Muslims come from every sect of Islam and every degree of devoutness. Any Muslim today can become an ex-Muslim tomorrow if they are no longer convinced of Islam’s claims.

Ex-Muslims weren’t justreal Muslims by definition; many were very active participants in their religious communities. Of respondents from our Apostasy Report, two-thirds (72%) had formerly attended religion-based social events, and over half (53%) had attended mosque on “a regular basis.” 44% had participated in the activities of Muslim organizations such as ISNA, CAIR, or an MSA; and 16% had served as an officer, founder, or employee of a Muslim organization.

  1. Losing belief is no easy feat

Losing the god and belief system that once gave comfort and certainty is emotionally and psychologically strenuous. In our Apostate Report, when asked about the worst consequences of leaving the faith, respondents reported that one of the hardest things was precisely the loss of existential comfort. 

“I lost my best friend (Allah); he always seemed to answer my prayers and he always seemed to listen and take care of me and my family.” 

-32 year old male

“Losing faith and coming to the acceptance that God isn’t a certainty leads to a void and lack of meaning in life. I still feel depressed at times.” 

-22 year old female

“Loss of community, accountability, and the warm fuzzies one gets from belief in God [is difficult]. Having faith is such a powerful shield against the horrors of life. One can rest easy at night, knowing that ‘good will triumph over evil, because God said so.” 

-24 year old male

Leaving Islam, like any faith, is anything but impulsive. Apostasy involves the reevaluation of lifelong beliefs, values, and community relationships. So it’s no surprise that a majority of ex-Muslims weighed the decision for years before ever leaving.

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