Sarah Haider on Leaving Islam, Changing Liberals’ Minds, and Ex-Muslims of North America
Malhar Mali: Can you tell us about your journey from being a believer to leaving your faith?
Sarah Haider: As with most people who leave, it started long before I knew it had begun. I started questioning parts of the faith, but I thought that was just the natural process of getting to know my religion, and I blamed a lot of my misunderstandings on the way I was taught Islam. I thought I just needed better teachers, books, and resources so that I could understand it correctly. In that sense I didn’t know I was on the path to leaving religion. I thought I was on the path to better understanding it.
But then I started looking into the scripture myself, which is to say, I read the Quran directly and I read the Hadith directly. Judging for myself I realized it really wasn’t the religion I thought it was. It wasn’t a lot of the things I had been taught — I was taught it was a religion that promoted women’s rights, for example, and that it was more beneficial to women than any other religion.