Hey I am so pleased to hear something other than the endless incantations by Western liberals that "Islam is peaceful/tolerant/scientific etc etc". I am a female university student, 20 years old, and am English. I am of western liberal agnostic background yet became involved in Islam, my experiences in which I relate below. It is a great comfort to me to know that there are people out there who feel like I do. Contrary to the ridiculous cyclical arguments that people who leave or reject Islam "do not understand it", we do, and for that reason we are dangerous.
I am now so weary of the rebuttal of any reasoned critique of Islam, even in the West, with the hysterical kneejerk reaction of "racist!", "out of context!" or "because the Quran says so!" as well as the ignorant complicity of western liberals who confuse such "Islamophobia" with intolerance and racism. Have most liberal PC apologetics, whether muslim or non-muslim, ever READ the Quran and hadith, and if so, was it in a language they understand? Did they honestly ask themselves the implications of what it says??
From the age of 16 I was typically, for a teenage girl, disillusioned with the world and had a great desire to find "truth" and if God existed and what God wanted. I had a few muslim acquaintances and a guy I knew was even a muslim scholar. I was much impressed with the things he told me about Islam and scientific discovery, and he gave me a Quran and several books on Islam. When he told me that Neil Armstrong had heard the azaan on the moon and converted to Islam (this is a hoax) I was close to being totally convinced. Perhaps I was gullible, but no more so than millions of others.
For the next 3-4years I read much on Islam -I learnt far more about Islamic practice, the Quran and Islamic history than most people I know from a muslim background, including those who consider themselves practicing. I also took the shahada in private. I feel now the reason I kept this a secret was not only because I did not want to upset my family, but also because I was aware of the consequences of apostacy (in Islam, death). Needless to say I am not keen to tell people that technically I am an apostate. Perhaps the most painful thing was that the Quran told me that if I was a muslim, I could not love my parents anymore. I felt my personality changed, I felt resentful and hardened towards those who had mattered most.
By the time i got to university I had fallen for the modern rhetoric that, actually, Islam really respected women and thought a muslim guy would. However, in my experiences of the last couple of years this has been far from the case. I have dated 2 religious muslim guys. They both encouraged me in learning and practising Islam. I knew sex was not allowed outside of marriage and nor did I want this kind of relationship. I thought they would agree with this. However, in both cases, once we were alone, both tried to force themselves on me. They, and their male friends all seemed to have ridiculously dualistic public/private views regarding sex and morality, and it is not hard to see why when one reads the Quran. Islamic doctrine is obsessed with sex and its social regulation, yet paradise for men is 72 panting virgins (and a few little boys thrown in). Of course there are such men in every religion, but in my own life at least, I have yet to meet a religious muslim male that does not hold to some degree sexist, homophobic, intolerant and Islamo-imperialist views and I now steer clear.
Looking back, I wonder why I was so brainwashed, why I did not openly question the fact that women blatantly receive less rights than men in Islam, and all the other obvious facts in the Quran that indicate that it was a man-made religion and a far-from-divine philosophy. I am still asking myself that, though I feel fear, shame and DENIAL are heavily involved in this. Eventually I opened my Quran and looked inside and asked myself if I could honestly believe that I could believe in the divinity of such hateful and violent words. I believe in God, but more as a existing as level of divinity through love and compassion of which all are capable of giving and worthy of receiving. However, I do not feel I need to respect a person's beliefs in order to respect the rights of that person to practice them (as long as this does not infringe the rights of others) and to treat them with compassion.
I will continue to look and contribute to this site now and offer a hand of support to anyone who needs it.
permission from Faith