Statement for ISNA
The following is a message from Ex-Muslims of North America, which we shared at the Islamic Society of North America’s annual conference. Share and stand with us for Ex-Muslim Rights!
Who are Ex-Muslims?
Wherever you can find Muslims, you will find us – those who have walked away. Many of us choose to hide our lack of faith, but we are part of your communities even if you cannot see us. We are your friends, we are your family members, and even though we no longer follow the teachings of Islam, we are not your enemies.
Disagreement is not hate
Most ex-muslims come from Muslim households, with Muslim parents, siblings, and friends we love dearly. We stand against anti-Muslim bigotry; we do not wish for our communities to be targeted by xenophobes or bigots. We believe that hating Muslims for being Muslim is wrong, but criticizing Islam for what it teaches is necessary. We feel strongly that the religion and way of life we left behind can make good people do bad things. This makes Islam harmful (most of all) to Muslims themselves by restricting their rights and liberties. We believe Islam keeps Muslim countries in the past, unable to enjoy the fruits of progress and prosperity. We wish, as you do, for a better world for Muslims, we just disagree with you on how to get there.
Why do ex-Muslims hide?
According to Pew Research, about one in four Muslims growing up in America have already left Islam. Many of us are closeted and don’t speak out from fear of the consequences. Don’t believe us? Think of what you, your parents, your community would say or do if you told them you were leaving Islam. Threats are routine. Emotional and even physical abuse is far too common. Some of us are forced out of the family home, some divorced by their spouses, and others forced to go “back home” in countries with fewer rights and liberties. Some superstitious believers will claim we have been “possessed by jinn”, and attempt violent exorcisms. In the most conservative households, ex-Muslims fear for their lives.
In this environment, is it really a surprise that we hide amongst you?
If Islam is the truth, then it does not need coercion or violence to be convincing. We hope you agree with us on at least this.
The Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA) is here at ISNA to represent those who have left Islam. Islamic communities have been a dangerous place for ex-Muslims and Muslims, and we want to work with each other to change that.
Together, we can come to a place of understanding.
Even if you don’t agree with ex-Muslims, we can learn to live together with our disagreements. We can start by talking to each other. If you haven’t met an outspoken ex-Muslim, or if you have questions, come speak to us! You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and our website!
We will work for anyone who stands for human rights and civil liberties – will you stand with us?