This section of DiscoverTheNetworks features the testimony of individuals who were raised as Muslims but, at some point in their lives, chose to renounce their faith because of its hateful elements. Such people have taken a great risk by leaving the Islamic religion, under whose laws apostasy is a serious crime punishable by death.
One of the stories featured in this section is that of the human-rights activist Nonie Darwish, who grew up in Gaza during the 1950s. She recounts:
“In Gaza elementary schools I learned of hate, vengeance and retaliation. Peace was never an option and never mentioned as a virtue as long as Jews existed. The Glory of battle was the ultimate honor. They scared us from Jews and taught us to solve disputes through violence. I was told not to take any candy from strangers since it could be a Jew trying to poison me. Girls were in tears reciting jihadist poetry daily and pledging to give up their lives as martyrs.
“After several generations brought up under this severe indoctrination, many Arab children were brainwashed like robots to value suicide bombers as someone to look up to in the hope of going to heaven. This unprecedented and extreme form of jihad produced the current generation of suicide bombers who kill non-Muslims with no mercy....
“I remember, as a young woman, visiting a Christian friend in Cairo during the Friday prayers, and we both heard the verbal attacks on Christians and Jews from the loudspeakers outside the mosque. We heard 'May God destroy the infidels and the Jews, the enemies of God. We are not to befriend them or make treaties with them.' We also heard worshipers responding 'Amen.' My friend looked scared, and I was ashamed. That was when I first realized that something was very wrong in the way my religion was taught and practiced.”
Another individual who left Islam as a young adult is the founder of Faith Freedom International, Ali Sina. Sina explains that after having encountered “western humanistic values that made me more sensitive and whetted my appetite for democracy, freethinking, human rights, [and] equality,” he felt “distressed” when he reread Quranic verses whose values were barbaric by comparison. The depravity and mercilessness of the Prophet Muhammad, Sina says, made him feel “taken aback with disgust.” Sina also rejected the Islamic injunction against befriending “infidels.” He recounts:
“After living many years in the West and being received kindly by people of other religions or of no religion, who loved me and accepted me as their friend; who let me into their lives and their heart, I could no longer accept the following mandates of the Quran as the words of God: '... O you who believe! Take not as [your] bitaanah [advisors, consultants, protectors, helpers, friends, etc.] those outside your religion, since they will not fail to do their best to corrupt you. They desire to harm you severely. Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, but what their breasts conceal is far worse.'”
Mohammad Asghar, a Muslim-born writer (of Bangladeshi origin) who has penned many pieces for the website Islam Watch, also tells the story of his own sojourn out of Islam. That journey began in the early 1980s, when Asghar determined “to find out what Islam really stands for, and what the Qur’an actually teaches its followers.” His research led him to conclude that “the teachings and the doctrines of Islam” were “obnoxious and, thus, unfit for good humans.” Consequently, he left the faith. Though his family supported his decision, he says, “it was a different story with the community I was living in; to it, I was a pariah.” Asghar elaborates:
“Most of my friends and acquaintances stopped talking to me, fearing that the information I was trying to disseminate was going to take them out of their religion, while others issued veiled threat against my person. Realizing that I might be harmed, if I continued to live in the country of my birth and talk about the fallacies of Islam, I, along with my family members, migrated to the United States.”