As a bit of an introduction, my name is Saeed, I am an American Arab living in the UAE, and was raised to believe in Islam. I thought about it for a while and decided to share my experience. 🙂
When I came to the UAE from America for the start of middle school, I was excited to finally meet Muslims other than my family. Basically, it was not at all what I expected. I was forced to go to an all-boys school, forced into prayer (which I didn't know how to do), chastised for even looking at a girl for more than a couple of seconds, chastised for not knowing the language of God (Arabic), etc. In a nutshell, I was miserable.
However, once high school came, everything got much worse as I found out that I was starting to get attracted to other boys in my school. On the bright side, at least I wouldn't get chastised for being attracted to girls anymore….
The stories that I would hear about how “almighty God” would punish the “sinful” and “immoral” homosexuals by raining torment on them (read up on Prophet Lut if you want the whole story)… Well… It had devastating effects on me. I felt dirty, sinful, and a total failure for not being able to live the way Allah wanted me to. Then, my entire social life deteriorated in front of my eyes. Lying to my parents about all this didn't make me feel much better.
Luckily though, one thing I had going for me was my grades. I ended up in the top university in UAE (at least in my opinion). And fortunately enough, I met this Indian girl in uni who was publicly an atheist. We made friends quickly and honestly, I was really jealous of her courage. She decided that she was an atheist simply because for her, Hinduism obviously wasn't the way for her and non-belief made much more sense to her. Plus, she felt it was right.
I was curious and did my own research on Islam. I was aware of the arguments against Islam beforehand, but was to naive to acknowledge them. However, I found a lot of satisfying material on Islam. Through my reading, I found out the real story of Prophet Mohammed, how illogical the Quran actually is, and Islam's true nature. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough.
However, that's when I came across “The God Delusion.” In our school library of all places…
I decided to borrow the book and, simply putting it, I was hooked. I finally found something that made complete sense to me. Basically, I was starting to take pride that I had a new found disbelief. It was life changing!
Unfortunately, I can't really announce my disbelief publicly, as my location doesn't allow it.
Needless to say though, thank you for helping me become more optimistic about life and my future. I have since decided to pursue a career in International Law and am preparing for Law School abroad in the United States. Also, I recently bought online a copy of “The Selfish Gene” and can't wait to start reading it.