Among some of my friends at the University I have often felt a sense of curiosity about how I became a Muslim and what made me leave it. Thus, the main objective of this page is to share some of my experiences about the time i was muslim.
Ver en español aquí.
I think any Westerner who comes across the authentic sources of Islam will be greatly surprised. There exist a great contrast between what we know about Islam and what it really is. Our sources are mostly biased and poor. Even if we talk with Muslim inmigrants, it is surprising how little they know about their own religion.
I had many pleasing surprises while being a Muslim, one of them not long ago. I will try to give you a glimpse of some of the things I often felt.
One of the things I was lately rejecting about Islam was the mistreatment of women. Before continuing, read this link (in spanish.)
Yesterday, by chance, I found this Fatua (islamic jurisprudence) which is considered to be correct in its content and form by those who understand and study Islam. Read it and you will see how those who beat their wives are not following the proper Islam taught by Muhammad ibn Abdullah Ibn Abdulmuttalib. (The Prophet of Islam, ill call him Muhammad from now.)
In my opion, if the Koran is and can be considered a legislative document that fact should have been made much more clear and explicit.
I spent a year very close to a very good source of information, a person with whom I ended up having a good and friendly relationship. At the end, I joined Islam because I thought it was true, I thought that Muhammad was a sincere man sent by Allah to become a guide for all of us. Maybe I was a bit unmature back then, but after spend a lot of time to this and seeing so many good things on Muhammad and his teaching, I was convinced that everything was true.
While being a Muslim, I remember that I could have gone to the house of any of my Muslim friends anyday and anytime to have lunch or dinner without any prior notice. In fact, once I entered the house I almost could not leave it without having something to eat.
I also remember one day that I was wearing some traditional Islamic clothing and, as I was walking down the street, a Spanish man shouted at me: "¡Moro!". That gave me a feeling of satisfaction. This is the kind of ignorance we must fight against, and we do not need any bombs but dialogue and madurity.
Once within Islam, I tried to improve as a Muslim and to help in any possible way I could. I have had a lot of experiences.
One of my aims was to enrich my knowledge of Islam and spread it as much as I could. I used to translate Internet materials for my own Web page: Textos sobre el Islam.(Texts about Islam)
Here, I will show you one text I translated and which I highly valued when becoming a Muslim. Read this. (spanish and english) This text is used continuously as a strong claim to support Islam around the world.
It is not suprising, not even now, that I found everything to be true. What is written here is relevant both in content and authorship. What I regret now is not having done things properly. I should have searched for information against Islam and consider it before taking the following step. Maybe, I devoted just 2% of my effort to search for information which would question Islam and that is where I was wrong.
I suppose that it is a human condition to search for evidences for that in which you believe and to leave aside those facts which could questions your beliefs. Now, I have learnt to value the scientific method of examining issues objectively. Now more than ever!
I used to answer any question about Islam from my friends. I found some opposition in those I tried to raise this issue with. But since I saw this theory as a wrong hypothesis formulated by someone trying to attack Islam, I was not greatly disturbed. Moreover, those I talked to seemed not to care much about it either.
It was in my mind to study this issue throughly and/or to translate a good Web page dealing with it. Meanwhile, I was collecting information for a critical study.
The truth is that I was leaving this aside. Despite the not very convincing explanations given by some of my Muslim friends, I thought that there must exist some kind of logical explanation. I was pushing back this, hoping to find an answer some day once I devoted myself to the study of this issue.
However, one day, become the time when some proves were acomulated. I was forced then to stop and think. One of then was found when I was walking around in a supermarket. I came across a book titled El Catecismo de nuestros padres (The Catechism of ours parents ) and written by Enrique Miret Magdalena y Javier Sadaba. I was surprised and shocked at the same time. I thought that the book was written in a serious and authoritative manner. I thought it was a good and interesting book. All of a sudden I read:
"Obsérvese, antes de nada, que el Darvinismo o la versión neodarvinista es tan aceptada hoy en la comunidad científica como lo es la física de Einstein o la composición del ADN. La hipótesis ha sido confirmada de tal manera que dudar de ella es como dudar de la luz. Y no sólo en lo que atañe a la evolución de las especies y, muy concretamente, del hombre, sino en aspectos en un principio más polémicos. Piénsese en la selección natural como supervivencia de los más aptos y que remite a la genética. Darwin no conoció lo que después será el desarrollo espectacular de la genética con sus elementos básicos constituyentes pero en su teoría está, de alguna manera, supuesto."
(First of all, let us consider and accept that Darwinism or neo-darwinist theories are as widely accepted in the scientific world as could be Einsteins Physics or DNA structure. This hypothesis has been so throughly proven to be true that to doubt about its aunthenticity is like having doubts about the light. And not only in those aspects dealing with the evolution of the species and, more specifically, the human being, but in those aspects which could be considered as more controversial. Let us just think about natural selection which advocates for the survival of the fittest and which takes us to genetic principles. Although Darwin did not have access to the late discoveries on genetic developments, in his theory we can find them implicitly.)
That was shocking for me becouse i liked that book but Islam do not accept the evolution. Added to that, I found more proves. I watched an excellent documentary by some Spanish scientists about 30 Homo Antecesor found in Atapuerca. I did not want to delay anymore my search. It was clear to me that the method was correct and scientifically rigurous. I knew well the C 14 method and others; I knew what they were talking about.
The more information I gathered, the more my eyes opened. The same happened to me when I asked once again to my Muslim brothers. This time I asked the wisest one I could ask. His sectarian answer was:
'The Jewish and demons confuse Muslims to take them away from Allah.'
Let us make clear that Islam is not a sect, at least nowadays. And even though each major religion has its own sects, I was sure I was not in one of them. I knew well how dangerous the sectarian behaviour can be.
One of the main characteristics of a sect is when its leaders reject anything which comes from outside the sect as something wrong or evil. I truly felt that his answer was a sectarian one, only useful when trying not to face the truth.
On the contrary, science has rational criticism as its leading principle. The principle that everything must be examined at any moment, taking into consideration all possibilities and not being attached to any of them.
From my point of view, Islam is much more rigurous than Christianity when dealing with legal, family and administrative issues. Islam gives very specific and clear rules for almost everything in life; on the other hand, Christianity is much more ambiguous. And that same fact, which was a great virtue at the beginning, is now a flaw. Islam cannot change, it is the same as it was fourteen centuries ago. That is why it cannot adjust itself to new scientific discoveries.
There is within Islam no such a figure as the Pope which could say that from now on Islam does recognize the theory of evolution as something true and well documented. I value this as a kind of sincerity. However, I must say that I do not support those who teach a "truth", later attack scientists who try to prove the opposite and end up recognizing the discoveries made by those scientists already dead.
However, that same virtue can turn against themselves since they will never be able to match Islam with the theory of evolution. Only one of them can be true since they contradict each other. The Bible explains the myth of creation in a similar way as the Koran does, but the situation differs greatly. Most of Christian people accept the myth of Adam as a way to explain their religion, not as an historical event. Islam was built on the idea that it is God the one who speaks, word by word and very clearly.
To deny the Koran in any of its parts or the words of Muhammad is simply to deny Islam. There is no room for other interpretations, the correct ones are those given by Muhammad, that is all. Since there is no doubt that evolution is a fact and that the natural selection mechanism is what brought us to this planet, the Koran is not telling the truth, Muhammad is not telling the truth. Maybe he was a great person but he did not told the true about the our origen.
Maybe his misticism made him see something which he later interpreted or maybe he lied in order to reach a higher goal, such as creating a much better society. Probably a mixture of both, I do not know. What I do know is that:
1. Not everything he said is true. Basically, he took the myth from the Bible and from here, he built his own doctrine.
Maybe more than one of the hadiths in which Islam is grounded was added freely after Muhammads death. I find very surprising how many sentences are attributed to Muhammad or his followers. A lot of then are considered to be wrongly attributed, even by Muslim scholars.
2. Allah is not the origen of Islamic teaching. Ok, but that does not mean that there arent usefull teachings for life there in.
Obviously not female genital mutilation -banned in Spain- and other savage traditions, some of them of doubtful origin. I talk about a lot of things like helping others and those in need or freeing slaves as ways of purifying sins are some of the teachings present in the Koran.
Regarding the article I traslated to spanish, I have chosen some hadiths from the Sahih Bukhary which confirm that the issue is not so clear. A brief comment on its importance. When Muhammad ibn Abdullah speaks about religion, his words are considered to have almost the same status as those written in the Koran. Both are inspired by God and protected from manipulation.
From these hadiths taken (source in Internet: http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/reference/searchhadith.html) from the hadiths book considered to be the most authoritative one, it can be clearly seen that it is Allah the one who decides the sex of the babies time after the fecundation. That is what it seems to those who were lucky enough to see a foetus back in those days.
But today, facts are clear, the sex of the foetus is defined exactly when the fecundation takes place, when the spermatozoon gives the chromosome "Y or X to the foetus. It's not talking about when the part of DNA of sex become active. The mistake is to pretend that Allah makes the decisión to complet his creation with the sex weeks after the fecundation. The sex is detalled in all the somatic cells at that moment.
I would like to add that it is normal among Muslims to defend themselves from the mistakes found in the hadiths by stating that, in fact, the Koran is the only book to be protected from mistakes.
Besides what I have just said about the Islamic teaching being based on what is written in the Koran and that the prophets words when speaking about religion are also protected, it must be said that the Koran is not perfectly protected. It is not only the fact that the numbering changes or that there exists different letters describing the same situation in different Koran versions. Some words even change from one Koran to another, fact which is strongly rejected by many Muslims or just simply not known.
The following two pictures show how there are variations from one Koran to another. They are not exactly identical, they are not absolutely protected against mistakes, as it could be expected.
One image is taken from the Koran (43, 18 or 43, 19) used in Arabia and the other one from the Koran used in Northern Africa. One talks about angels from the Merciful and the other about angels servers of the Merciful. What suprises me the most now is that, when they told to me that the difference was not important, I just simply accepted it. Of course, the meaning remains the same, but that is not the question. The clue here is that there exists a clear contradiction between the fact that a perfect and superior being was in charge of protect it for ever, and the fact that there exist copy mistakes.
I have to add this section because, although it is not really related to my past experience, I think it can be considered as relevant information. I guess this is something which happens to anyone like me who leaves Islam and tries to write and tell about his/her experience to others.
Lately, I have received several e-mails which reflect a deep anger towards my web page and special for what they consider a manipulation of the Koran. In their own words:
' You say that the Koran is not protected, and to prove that you give the evidence of how a word changes its meaning in two different versions depending on the position of two points. I accept: if there were really two versions approved by all muslims then, there would something to think about ' . ' There has never been any alteration in the Koran and there can never be any in the future. It is God's promise '
Words which could be taken as some kind of curse found in one e-mail:
'God damn you. You will understand why some people like you deserve capital punishment. Although you will also have seen how this punishment is only materialized in very few and rare occasions. Because the greatness of the Islamic law is beyond the narrow minds of people like you, Westerners who are not able to understand and see it'.
And from another e-mail:
' You are an enemy of the Koran, enemy of the truth, enemy of God and enemy of the Islam, and I am your confessed enemy '.
What can I say when I told him that if he had patience with me and in a civilized manner, I could argue with him the information he could send me. The same I could say when I found out the following while reading The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark, by Carl Sagan: ' In 1993, the highest and supreme religious authority from Saudi Arabia, the sheik Abdel-Aziz Ibn Baaz, issued a fatwa stating that the world was flat '.
And so, my answer is the same as Galilei's: 'And nevertheless, it moves'. It seems like it's my turn to defend the right of free speech. I prefer the evidence from those words instead of writing some kind of argument for which I am not too much prepared. At the end, truth stays despite our lack of moderation, lack of critical sense, lack of objectivity, lack of tolerance...
I want to add that I have received others emails from Islamic people pleased after read my web page.'...I like to researsh too and I tellyou thank you for your artile becouse it gave me more fair and made me to increase my love for the peoble.' Fortunately not all the muslims fall in the mistake of intolerance. In fact normall muslim people use to be more tolerant.
A very subjective confirmation, but especially relevant for me, was when I was told that I never really had faith. It seems that that is what Muhammad said. Those who leave Islam prove that they never had faith. I am very sure I had faith.
When I left Islam, I created a small drawing about our past, taking things from here and there. The whale is what I like the most.
It is not my intention to go on with evidences, I just would like to share what I consider to be one of the most enriching experiences of my life.
Some people have told me that it seems like I value it positively. Well, it is true, it is something that will be part of my life and, overall, I value it in positive terms. It is a subjective opinion, it is something emotional rather than rational. I would rather keep good memories about it.
But, in order for these pages to give a wider picture of Islam, there are some other details which I would like to give you. They are facts which are not seen at the beginning and which are given to you gradually (so to be less shocking), as you become a Muslim. Typical from sects, although Islam should not be considered as such.
· I devoted, as I once calculated, around three and a half hours a day only to Islam. At the beginning, a lot less is always asked for; but, in my case, I was criticized for doing too little. This was unfair since sometimes I was the only one in the mosque in the strictly mandatory dawn prayer. Islam understands life solely as a worship to God, in a variety of forms such as at work. But it also includes purely religious obligations such as praying five times a day, which becomes ten or more, gathered in five groups, so to get closer to God.
· Due to the amount of time it requires and the fact that you value your Muslim friendship over the rest, you end up leaving your old friends aside. (This might be different from one group to another, although it is probably common to all of them)
· I almost ended up thinking that the Jewish had to disappear from the Earth. Certainly you will find the most violent of people in enmity for those who believe (to be) the Jews and those who are polytheists... says the Koran 5:82 (from Islamic online edition). There are also prophesies from Muhammad saying that Muslims will kill ALL Jewish. Now, I clearly see how hideous that is and I regret it. It is just another form of senseless racism. Which does not mean that I accept all the pain and racism that the Palestinians are suffering at the hands of the Jewish. It is a very difficult and controversial situation in which both sides hate each other and find it hard to live next to each other. This has caused around two million Palestinians to become refugees in neighboring countries (such as Jordan).
· War against those non Muslim countries is clearly defined. It is not the idea that the teaching must be brought to those who do not have it and then discuss it; that happened a long time ago. What needs to be done is to impose and bring every country under the fair laws of Allah for their own good by means of military occupation. The first countries which need to be occupied must be those which were Muslims before. Muhammad himself gave an example of this by forcing the people of Taif to become Muslim. At the same time I believe it is against Muhammads teachings the attacks against the World Trade Center which took place in september 2001, although I am also sure that Muhammad would declare war to any neighboring country in order to convert it to Islam and give them the laws inspired by Allah. It does not matter if this country is 1000 times more powerful. Allah was with them; in fact, an army was sent against some parts of the Bizantine Empire.
Regarding this issue, I should tell you that at the beginning you will be told by Muslims that people living here are not those who deny Allah (kafirun), they are Christians, and, in principle, that is good. But As time goes on, they toldme that people here aren't religeus, they are "kafirun"(disbelievers) My experience contradicts the more extensed opinion, maybe it was just my experience, but I do not think so. At the end, all Westerners, Christian or not, are Kafirun. That I was told by those with a high religious knowledge in my town.
· The true science is the knowledge of Islam, Allahs teaching and the Muhammad's hadiths; that is how Islam defines it. Apart from that, there are theories and technologies from a second class knowledge which can never question what is written in those books. Doubt itself, as a method, is rejected and considered to be a sickness. In science, doubt and criticism are needed in order to keep it healthy and to ensure that facts or theories are objectively analyzed. In my opinion, that is the greatest problem for Islam, it tries to be scientific in nature but it rejects a very important fact in modern science: to throughly question and examine everything, giving as much information as possible of the points for and against it.
· Anybody who tries to leave Islam must be killed. It is a current law since it cannot be changed; it was like that in ancient times and now, nobody can abolish it. I have been told that in Morocco, the police arrested an intellectual who dared to leave Islam, and after some display of brutality, he was convinced not to talk about his decission in public. (I am not sure how faithful is my source from Morocco)
Overall, Islam offers little religious freedom.
During the last centuries and in the Western world, we have improved considerably regarding the definition and defence of freedom. The Islamic world must increase its cultural background, adding values such as objectivity, doubt as a scientific method and individual freedoms. Those who do not want to contrast their truth against others in order to test it, are the most likely to be wrong.
My experience within Islam had many positive aspects, besides those derived from meeting and discovering new people and a new culture from within. I keep very good memories and many of them will be part of my life for a long time; even leaving Islam was a positive and enriching experience. I keep in mind the thought of that feeling of fear to God, a feeling which, at the same time, paralyzes and stimulates you. You continue with your own life but always trying to keep in mind that God is watching you. That is why you always try to do things to please Him. That is part of the whole idea of Yihad (which could be translated as effort), not in the sense of War but in the sense of the "Yihad akbar" (the great Yihad, according to Muhhamad), the fight in trying to improve oneself. An effort which the muslmim can handle, no more than he can do, no more than he regrets afterwards. Muslims must always try to increase it, never to decrease it. Nowadays when somebody tells me that this or that thing can be done because nobody is going to see you I think to myself "yes but, if it will be the true" and that is important for me.
I would like this essay to be another small step in this attempt to foster and improve the understanding among different cultures.
Finally, I would like to finish with a thought atributed (incorrectly) to François Marie Arouet (Voltaire, 1694-1778): 'I do not agree with what you say, but I would defend till death your right to express it'. I think the same way about your right to try to persuade those who are willing to listen to you (whether religion is involved or not). Your right to live according to your own rituals and traditions. Your right to try to bring your children up also according to your own system of beliefs. The right of your children to have access to a good education and to be protected by the laws, no matter the color of their skin, their traditions or their economic status.
Thanks to D. González García for his work on this traslation.
More testimonies from other people how left Islam can be found here: http://www.secularislam.org/testimonies/index.htm
Other interesting testimony about a muslim conversion can be found here from Jusuf Islam (before Cat Stevents, the singer): CatStevens
Now I am just reading one great book from one scientist that became budist. In the book he talk with hes father about his rich experience. The father has wrote some books about filosophy and the history of filosophy. It's a great book. Le moine et le philosophe, (ed. Nil Édition, París)
And there you have a site with a lot of links, some of then very criticists: Alternative View on Islam There you can find interesting sites like this one: Faith Freedom International There you have a link about Neil Armstrong and Jaques Cousteau. They did never became muslims.
|Visits to my pages from 30/5/1:||Visits to my pages about Islam:|
After these references, I leave you with the following dialogue:
SIMPLICIO: This new way of ?making? philosophy tends to overthrow all natural philosophy and to disorder and to put upside down heaven and earth and the whole universe. But I believe that such are the foundations of the peripatetic that, if destroyed, I doubt very much that it would be possible to create new sciences.
SALVIATI: Do not worry about Heaven or Earth nor fear its overthrow or that of philosophy because, as regards to Heaven, it will be useless to fear something which you already consider as unchanging and unmoved. With regards to the Earth, what we are doing is trying to ennoble and perfect it, trying to make it more similar to the heavenly bodies and almost placing it in Heaven, from where your philosophers have thrown it out. Even philosophy can only receive the benefit of our arguments, because if our thoughts are true, we will have achieved new adquisitions, and if false, just by refuting them, the earlier doctrines will receive more confirmation. Concern yourselves with some philosphers and try to help and sustain them, because, as regards to science, it can only advance.
From: Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems Galileo Galilei, Florence 1632.