Why I Call Myself a Kafir

Kafir is a derogatory term to describe infidels. It’s also a slur that invokes violence, death threats, and harmful repercussions. A slur’s intention is to dehumanize and violate the community in question whether they’re LGBTQIA+, women, undocumented immigrants, or communities of color. Infidel is also a synonymous term categorized against anyone who isn’t Muslim. Being an infidel could warrant imprisonment or death sentences in 26 countries. During an egregious human rights violation such as this one, it’s imperative for us infidels to speak up. 

I remember when I was sexually assaulted while wearing a jilbaab and upon reporting this violation, I was questioned as to why I was even outside to begin with. This was an incredulous experience due to the high prevalence of childhood sexual assault and marital rape cases that exist in the Muslim world. Marital rape was only outlawed in the US in 1993, so we have a long way to go when fighting against gender-based violence at home also. I began internalizing this abuse and almost accepted my second-class citizenship. I wasn’t safe at home, but it was my misfortune for being born female-identified.

I am proud to be a kafir. I was threatened with honor killing for dating a Black guy even though I’m Black myself. I had to quit my job because they knew where I worked. I survived 6 months without health insurance. I am very lucky because I am still alive. We’re an oppressed class yet not enough people are discussing our plight in the US and abroad. Being an ex-Muslim woman is profoundly more dangerous than being an ex-Muslim man. There are places where women are imprisoned for removing their hijabs. The smallest infraction including leaving your religion or dating someone in secret could result in an honor killing. I feel very fortunate I will never have to emigrate to a new country to escape death threats for my apostasy.

I think it’s so funny whenever someone tells me that solo female travel isn’t safe. I’ve never felt unsafe in Costa Rica, Colombia or Trinidad & Tobago as a solo female traveler. However, I have always felt unsafe in the home as a closeted ex-Muslim girl. How could the world be safer for me than being in the home?  If you’re a woman who can wear bikinis and shorts, date whomever you choose, travel solo, post photos of yourself dancing and leave your religion without fear of honor killing, you are privileged. If you’ve never had to worry about your family killing you to redeem their honor, you are privileged. If you can make decisions without second-guessing whether or not there will be dire repercussions, you are privileged.

Solo female travel changed my entire life trajectory. I couldn’t leave the house without a male chaperone and yet here I am traveling the world solo. When I decided to embark on a solo trip to Trinidad & Tobago, I knew this trip would change my life forever. I celebrated Black History Month by honoring liberation, freedom and ancestral legacy. Imagine if Coachella was in Wakanda. That’s the best way I can describe it. Imagine partying on a Caribbean beach until the sun comes up. I can’t describe how free I felt while twerking on a boat off the coast of Venezuela and the DJ is playing City Girls. I felt so beautiful in my Mas costume. I tried rum for the first time. Should I be killed for this? Why should I be honor killed while rapists and abusers are promoted into positions of power? I have so much of life to live. And I’m so grateful for the opportunity.

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I'm a feminist blogger who writes about solo female travel, politics, fashion and the Black experience abroad.

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