The right to blaspheme is fundamental—and it’s under attack.
In as many as 33 Muslim-majority countries today, most of which have Islam as their state religion, daring simply to speak out against religious customs, express one’s lack of belief, or otherwise say anything deemed offensive by religious authorities is enough to brand one a criminal. If victims are lucky, they might live in purportedly “lenient” countries and get off with a fine and a brief prison sentence. If they are unlucky, they may live in one of the roughly dozen countries in which either blasphemy or apostasy (leaving Islam) is a capital offense. That is, if violent fundamentalist militants don’t find them before the state does.
But even outside the Muslim world, intolerance for those who speak freely about Islamic doctrine is endemic. While apostates can be put to physical death in several Muslim-majority countries, they can face social death in the West, frequently cut off from friends and family and even sometimes subject to abuse.
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For many people, religion is a source of community and comfort. Other times, religion can come with all kinds of baggage, guilt, and roadblocks to a meaningful life. Here are some of the BEST things that came out of leaving Islam:
There’s a lot of confusion as to just why people leave religious groups–and especially what leads ex-Muslims out of the faith. It’s not, for example, abusive parents, or cultural alienation, or even “hating God.” So what are the main reasons people leave Islam?
Leaving Islam, though a markedly long and difficult process, can often come with a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Freedom, authenticity, and a more meaningful life are all among what ex-Muslims state to be the best consequences of leaving the faith.
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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.
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.
As much as leaving Islam is a question of personal belief, that’s far from all it is. Leaving the faith and making oneself an “apostate” is to renounce a slew of rights designated only to Muslims -- and put oneself at risk of prosecution.