As soon as I announce that I’ve left Islam, people assume I will self-destruct in 3…2…1. There’s this extreme fear-mongering that occurs when someone attempts to leave Islam. I, too, was a victim of this mindset. I told my family I was leaving and they said, “that’s fine! We will see you downtown homeless while strung out on drugs!” I’ve never touched any of that stuff, but it’s peculiar how quickly they believed I would self-destruct. I am not downplaying the existence of addiction among both Muslims and ex-Muslims. Addiction is a huge issue in my own community and often it’s a response to PTSD from the civil war, systemic violence, and suffering.
I don’t believe in the myth that leaving behind an ideology, community, and family system that is toxic will result in self-sabotage and deprivation. I feel as if though I have a new lease on life. There are so many things I’ve always wanted to do. When I was a Muslim, I wanted to start drinking and engaging in high-risk behavior to cope with the extreme level of violence, control, and oppression I endured from of a misogynistic faith. Now, that I no longer endure such abuse, I have no use for drugs, alcohol or risky behavior. It doesn’t even excite me. I want to be present for these moments I’m creating. This is the life I’ve always dreamed of, yet, never believed I could achieve. I don’t have the luxury of relying on anyone else. My new life makes me want to work harder while remaining accountable, unapologetic and fearless.
I’m excited about the rest of my life. I would say I have higher morals now because I refuse to accept second-class citizenship. I fight for the rights of women, LGBTQIA, and gender non-conforming communities. I have better morals since leaving Islam. I fight for marginalized communities to live without violence, oppression and subjugation. I was indoctrinated with homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and normalized violence. I have better habits and cope without abusing others. I am outspoken against the death threats ex-Muslims receive. I’ve also received death threats from my family.
Let’s debunk this myth that once someone leaves Islam, they become self-destructive and destitute. And if that does happen, we need to create better support systems to ensure they’re taken care of. We need safe-houses for ex-Muslims, therapy, deposit assistance, legal defense and citizenship clinics. I had to do it entirely on my own, but I had a pretty solid set-up. I planned it for nearly 3 years. It’s time to cast away the shame and live authentically. Being on the other side is better than anything I imagined.