Closet atheist needs atheist friends

Aug 23, 2018

Dear sir/madam

I don’t know who is going to read this but I really appreciate your time. Thank you.

I was reading about religion for a quite long time because I knew there is something wrong and the religion is not good enough for me or society. The Islamic teachings are so sacred in my country and the only way to let myself to get around this is to find the solution in different Islamic schools of thought. I started to read every book against whabisim and it seemed convincing that time. Little by little I gain the courage to criticise some Islamic teaching and the cycle grow bigger. I thought I’m losing faith so I went to the mosque much more often than usual. When I spoke my thought louder I lost some friends as I were asking for women rights in my country and I was criticising some profound beliefs in that country. Sorry I forgot to say I happened to be from Saudi Arabia.

Losing friends didn’t bother me much, two or three friends aren’t a big loss in the sake of right and gender equality. However, I continued reading and studying religion till the point I considered my self as an atheist but I was hanging in the religion by the last string “family”. By that time I came to the UK to study English language and to study masters in physics.

One day I came a cross the god delusion in charity shop and I bought it for a pound. Half way through the book I announced myself an atheist with a plan to hide this from everyone. No religion can convince me back I tried many religions but each religion is more stupid than the other. Physics and rationalism are my new religion if I could say so.

As I started studying my MSc degree it happened that I was thought by Jim Alkhalili. An atheist came from a Muslim country. That must was hard for him as I expect. The sad thing every one is judging me by skin colour and name every one assumes I’m a Muslim even my British classmates. I don’t blame them it’s rare to find an atheist named [deleted for privacy].

I’m very scared. I already lost a sister because she found about me. I’ll lose all my family soon or later and I’ll be looked at as bad person from every Muslim I know in my country. I’ll lose my job I’ll lose friends and I’ll be headed as the Quran say so.

I’m very terrified.

I have no one to speak to I just want to talk.

Good night

Kind regards
Moha

6 comments on “Closet atheist needs atheist friends

  • Moha

    Welcome to this website. You now have one sort of support in your new secular worldview. Some commenters here were not brought up in a religious community but plenty of us have been raised in a religious family and have had to break away from that. It’s not easy. We’ve had to navigate difficult family relationships and friends who could not adapt to our new world views. Realistically, you should brace yourself for some rejection. People often have a response to declarations of atheism that are based on fear and shock that has been instilled in them by their own religious perspective. I’ve had better luck in breaking it to them slowly and as subtly as I possibly can.

    As you think about issues of morality, you will need to rethink many things that you learned in your religious environment. What helped for me was reading books by some of our humanist philosophers that discussed ethics. Peter Singer, A. C. Grayling and Dan Dennett are my recommendations. You will find that this is a different and better way of deciding what is good and bad, right and wrong, valuable and not valuable. Then, when discussions of these matters arise with family and friends, you will take the high ground with your humanist, ethical perspective. You don’t need to challenge them in a pugnacious way. Just offer a more modern way of looking at the issues.

    For example, the “holiday” of Aayeed, (sp?) that celebrates the story of Abraham nearly murdering his son to prove his devotion to God/Allah has just inspired a conversation in my family. Now of course, we know that it would be impossible to eliminate this holiday in the Islamic community no matter how much we think the whole thing is ridiculous and highly unethical but it’s very interesting to present that story in a way that highlights the bizarre aspects of the story – A father nearly murders his son based on a claim of hearing the voice of Allah speaking in his head (or outloud?) in a direct command to him personally, to do the dastardly deed. When this story is presented in this way, we can surmise that Abraham was most certainly a schizophrenic off his meds. haha. Or as many of us assume, that the whole story is just a Middle Eastern myth that is taken as truth by many people who have been indoctrinated into their religion when they were just children who believe everything that adults tell them.

    Sometimes, with religious believers, they react badly when someone presents a version of a story or a comment that goes against their beliefs. When this happens, move on and don’t force your position. These ideas really do sit in their minds and they could mull it over for some time and it’s possible that this will weaken their position in the future. In the story of Abraham above, most people come around to an understanding that Abraham wasn’t really such a paragon of virtue that religious books present him as after all. This is how to talk fundamentalists down from an extreme position to a more moderate one. Once they concede that Abraham wasn’t such a virtuous person, then we move on to the question of why are whole societies slaughtering millions of sheep out on the street and on balconies etc just to honor this crazy or nonexistent guy? Then the discussion will move toward animal rights and health concerns due to ignorance in slaughter techniques, etc. These discussions already circulate in the community of Muslims so it’s easy to build on them.

    I understand that you feel alone and vulnerable in your new world view. Although I do agree that you are unsafe as an atheist in many countries and societies in the world at the current time, I don’t agree that you are alone. You will lose some friends as many of us definitely have and many members of your family will drop you like a hot potato, but it’s up to you to get out there and replace them with good secular replacements.

    How will you do this? I see that you are in UK and I know there is an active community of ex-Muslims there. Find them and access their support. There are plenty of atheists in the Muslim community but they are afraid to declare their lack of belief openly. Be subtle in your search for like minded friends. They are searching for you too!

  • Moha,

    You might feel alone, but according to this article you are not!

    https://www.salon.com/2014/06/12/atheism_explodes_in_saudi_arabia_where_just_talking_about_atheism_is_illegal_partner/

    LaurieB made some excellent suggestions for you above. Seek new friends. Practice common sense security habits, but otherwise live your one life as your conscience decrees.

    The world is not going back to the Dark Ages. We progress, in fits and starts, with setbacks and breakthroughs, but we progress.

    I wish you all the best going forward.

  • Hey Mo,

    I just set up an account so I could post on here. As it happens I’m an atheist who’d like to know more about physics so perhaps we’d have some good conversations. I read The God Delusion when I was young and at changed my life! Anyway, if you ever need anyone to talk to my email address is [Removed by moderator]

    Christian

    Sorry, Christian, that was a kind thought, but it’s not a good idea to post your email address publicly like this. If Moha wants to email you, he can contact us and we’ll let him have it privately.

    The mods

  • Bart Stewart #2
    Aug 23, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    The evidence is anecdotal, but persistent.

    Interesting article in your link above. I agree that our information about what’s going on inside the Kingdom is at this point mostly anecdotal and I have a certain amount of anecdotal information of my own. Our Saudi contacts there won’t talk to their own countrymen about their frustration with the chokehold their religion has on their society due to fear of death and barbaric punishment but when those Saudis are in the company of their secular American friends they speak very freely about their great frustration with the government, clergy and fundamentalists amongst them. Not only do they rail against the hypocrisy and greed and tribal mentality of the royal family but they are very frustrated with the slow and nonexistent pace of reform across the board. One Saudi guy we know went on a rant about the vexing requirement that women be chaperoned when out in public. He said he was sick and tired of shuttling his women around to shopping, appointments and every other place they wanted to go. He wants them to plan their own day, drive themselves to where they want and need to go and spend their days as all the women of the West do with all the competence and freedom of movement that we enjoy here. Various absurdities such as having professional drivers for women who are not related to them illustrate the stupidity of that system. As the article explains, young Saudis know very well how other young people in other countries live with freedom of movement and open opportunities and they won’t tolerate their archaic oppressive system forever. Internet and satellite TV and reports from young people who spend time abroad like our Moha above, have a serious impact on how young Saudis view their own society.

    Anecdotal though it may be, there is definitely a chilly feeling that a winter of discontent may be drawing nigh.

  • Dear Moha,

    if you are still living in the UK, you might want to get in touch with Council of Ex-Muslims of Great Britain. There’s a good chance that you will find the much needed support there:

    https://www.ex-muslim.org.uk/contact/

    Hope, it’s OK that I posted the link. There are some great people in this organisation. Fearless Fighters for Freedom. I admire them so much.

    All te best to you. All the best. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Susa

  • You’re not alone. I come from a similar country and have the same name as you.

    When reading The God Delusion, I was already an atheist and I always thought to myself that “If one goes past the introduction and does not feel her/his belief being shaken, nothing would ever change their thought.”

    I read the other comments and I guess others have answered your question already; that is, how to find a community in which you could find people who share the same belief as you. But there’s one thing I’d like to say again: You’re not alone, Bro!

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