I don’t like the term “leaving Islam”. It connotes a complete and permanent separation and I don’t believe this can ever occur in my case. I don’t know if it’s that I can never truly leave Islam, or that Islam just won’t leave me. Certainly I am not practicing, nor do I ever plan on practicing Islam again. I don’t believe in the most basic tenets and foundational assumptions required to be a part of the religion. I don’t believe the Quran is the word of God. I don’t believe Mohammad had a special relationship with God, although he did have an understanding of monotheism, as have many. He must have been a tremendous leader and still continues to lead many today. I don’t believe he was infallible and I question his morality. For now, I will leave that one alone, chalk it up to relativism and leave my own moral and ethical understandings at the door. I don’t believe in angels and jinn and black magic and fantastical miracles. I don’t believe in hellfire for unbelievers and paradise for Muslims. I don’t believe he would create us and then torture us for eternity.
I will never again succumb to guilt for not following the rules of orthodoxy. I won’t question myself or feel any underlying sense of begrudging anger when listening to music or viewing a sculpture of the human body. I’ve recently cracked open more than one bottle of merlot and sipped a fine cognac. I will never question my worth as a woman in relation to a man and religion. I will speak up and be heard even when it’s “not my place”. I feel liberated with my hair blowing in the wind, although at times my ears get a bit cold.
And yet, somehow Islam will always be with me and I will always love it even as I must divorce myself from it. Islam is like an autocratic, controlling parent and I am like a newly independent adult who just isn’t going to take it any longer. I have had my arguments and raved and stormed out of the room slamming the door behind me. I’ve thrown the dishes and tried to reason but we just can’t get along. I may go years in silence without speaking a word to Islam. I may have dark days brooding over the perceived abuses I suffered under its guide. I may go months without thinking about it at all.
But at the end of the night, after I’ve said my peace and I know our relationship is over, I still love Islam. I am like a child who will always love her mother, even when that mother is not the one of kindness and compassion, but instead, callous and manipulative. As much as I would like, I will never be able to cleave her from my consciousness or erase her from the fiber of my experience. As painful as it is, I will move forward while shedding my tears over what used to be. I will always love Islam but have to leave it now in my memory and find new avenues of happiness in this life. I don’t believe I can ever truly leave Islam for it will remain with me in my memory and heart, but I will continue to seek truth and God without it.