NameA. Z

Living as an atheist in a Muslim community was a daunting prospect when I first left my faith. However, by joining an organisation like the CEMB, I hope to communicate with like-minded individuals who are still obligated to live in an asphyxiating religious atmosphere.

I am a 16 year old Pakistani male, and only definitively left my faith half a year ago, at the age of 15. That being said, I struggled to reconcile my faith with my personal morals for many years prior to this moment.

I was brought up in an averagely religious family. My mother is quite devout, and rarely misses her namaz. My father is less concerned with the afterlife, and (thankfully) focuses most of his efforts into obtaining a fulfilling life here on earth. That being said, he still has faith in God, and never appeared to carry even the slightest doubt of Islam. I have much admiration for my mother and father. Despite the fact that they sent me to mosque from a young age, the importance of my secular education was something that was emphasized more prominently than my religious one. Both my parents held well respected careers, and they pushed me to become equally, if not more successful than them. This emphasis on education, especially of science and mathematics, undoubtedly contributed to my subsequently deteriorating faith. After being shown the wonders of science, I was enthralled from a young age. When I was 6, I proclaimed that I would one day become a scientist; a dream which I am still pursuing.

Coming from a liberal background, I was permitted to learn a musical instrument, make friends with girls, and do just about everything my non-muslim classmates did. Due to this, I rarely felt excluded due to my faith during my early childhood. I attended a predominantly white/Christian primary school, and my best friends were all of different faiths to mine. I never felt that my religion had placed any restrictions on my, it was something of a redundant element of my identity. I took pride in the fact that I was a Muslim, but only because it set me apart from most of my peers. This lead me to become somewhat indifferent when it came to the actual substance of my faith. The only things I cared about were Eid and Ramadan; a month where I could boast to my friends of my incredible ability to go for almost a day without food. Islam only started mattering to me in my teens.

As I grew, I began to take more notice of the content of my religion. What I found was somewhat disconcerting. Elements of my personal philosophy that were held in high regard such as the equal rights that woman should receive and the importance of science appeared to be undermined by my faith. I began to take in incredibly liberal approach to the way I interpreted to Q\'uran and my religious teachers. This was a desperate attempt to reconcile my obnoxious faith with my perfectly sane morals. I was left dumbfounded when people questioned my on the violent nature of Islam, or the factual inaccuracies that plagued the Q\'uran. My only rebuttal was \"it must be interpreted metaphorically\" or \"it has a subliminal meaning\". Both of these arguments were futile and foolish, I now concede. I had made many friends who did not share my faith. My teacher at mosque had told me that polytheists were destined to an eternity in hell. Was my Hindu friends destined to suffer an eternity of suffering simply because they were born into a Hindu family? This person was, helpful, funny and incredibly pleasant to be around. I could not remember a time when anyone had convicted this person of fault. What had they done wrong to deserve this punishment? After a while, the only reason I was still clinging on to the last threads of my flimsy faith were due to the fear of hell and a belief in Allah that had been ruthlessly indoctrinated into me.

I often gazed into the night sky, marveling at the universe (that I still convinced myself was the product of Allah\'s brilliance). But after pondering for a long time one night, I reached an unsettling yet liberating conclusion. The universe is incomprehensibly vast, and full of mystery and wonder. I loved to contemplate the environments on other planets, the swathes of area that man would never be able to venture. So why on earth would a deity plant some bipedal organisms on an arbitrarily important planet and command them to a subscribe to a farcical dogma that revolves around worshiping this deity and believing in a collection of \"divine\" statements and stories that can only be described as asinine. I felt great when I finally came to realise that Muhammad was just some pretty ordinary bloke who happened to be really good at coercing people to believe in absolute bulls**t.

My family may be liberal, but they are still deeply entrenched in their religious ways. I am afraid of publicly renouncing Islam, since the first images that fall into my mind are ones of my mother crying and my life being irreversibly altered to a horrendous degree. So I still go to mosque on a Friday with the male members of my family, pretending to pray Jummah Salaah. I still sit down to read the Quran with my family on my mother\'s request. I still put my hands together in prayer on Eid day when I am supposedly thanking God for this wonderful life I have been given. It is frustrating being an atheist whilst not being financially independent, but I will tolerate it for a few more years to come. Until I can finally venture out on my own (hopefully having secured a career in scientific research) But I\'m a patient person, so as things stand, I\'m pretty happy just talking about my new-found disbelief with like-minded individuals on the internet!