On the importance of supporting Ex-Muslims
There are many wonderful accomplishments and services that the secular movement has provided. From taking action on policy issues, raising awareness, and dispelling myths surrounding secular people, one the most important is the tremendous support that it has provided for other secularists. Throughout my involvement in the movement, I have met many people who were questioning or thinking about leaving their religions, but had no idea that there were others thinking the same thing they are. And they sure as hell didn’t know that there are organizations that provided them with a place for non-judgmental discussion and support. Some of these people have been cut off financially or even forced out of their homes, and their discovery of secular organizations have changed their lives.
There is a group, however, that require some extra attention: questioning and ex-Muslims. This group is a little different, given the nature of the religion that they have been brought up in. A friend of mine, Monica Harmsen, points out that Islam is very good at making itself seem like it’s the default religion. It’s also a religion that severely diminishes followers’ sense of influence over their actions in an almost predeterminist way. Islam is also a religion who’s higher power is very dictatorial and totalitarian, making departing from the religion emotionally difficult. Even worse, Muslim families, communities, and governments sometimes make it one of the most taboo and dangerous of deeds to denounce Islam. This is why questioning and ex-Muslims require extra support that show utmost acceptance and empowerment. And if there’s one thing that we have learned from successful movements such as the Gay Rights Movement, it’s that when more oppressed people come out of the closet, the more comfortable and acceptable it is for others to do the same.
This is becoming easier with the help of organizations like the Secular Student Alliance, Center for Inquiry, and many others who have shown tremendous support for those leaving their faiths. A newer, upcoming organization – Muslimish – is a promising one, who’s mission focuses on supporting questioning and ex-Muslims, in association with The Richard Dawkins Foundation and the Center for Inquiry.
Secular activists and organizations, being a major force of good in helping and supporting others should not forget to accommodate and fear to actively reach out to the Muslim community. Many questioning and ex-Muslims have secretly come up to me, relieved to know that there are other ex-Muslims out there that they can meet with and talk to safely. I hope to make that clear to any questioning and ex-Muslim afraid to talk about it, and to secular activists out there.
Please, feel free to contact me at Hassakelly@gmail.com or Wayne@Secularstudents.org. I can safely put you in contact with Muslimish or others feeling the same thing you are. You can also follow Muslimish on Twitter.