Losing their religion: the hidden crisis of faith among Britain’s young Muslims

Sulaiman Vali is a softly spoken 33-year-old software engineer. A natural introvert not drawn to controversy or given to making bold statements, he’s the kind of person who is happiest in the background. He lives alone in a modest house on a quiet street in a small town in East Northamptonshire. He doesn’t want to be any more specific than that about the location. “If someone found out where I lived,” he explains, “they could burn my house down.”

Why should such an understated figure, someone who describes himself as a “nobody”, speak as if he’s in a witness protection programme? The answer is that six years ago he decided to declare that he no longer accepted the fundamental tenets of Islam. He stopped being a believing Muslim and became instead an apostate. It sounds quaintly anachronistic, but it’s not a term to be lightly adopted. [984 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 232 votes] We live in 2015 and yet brave people like these are being hounded for wanting to abandon their religious identity? If they want to leave then let them; this isn’t Scientology!

[2ND 173] I am a woman who was raised as a Muslim but now completely rejects Islam. Like the people in this article, I can never tell my parents this- the only people I can confide in are my siblings who are similarly agnostic or atheist.

What has turned me away from Islam is the poisonous misogyny that seems to be at the very foundation of the religion. Women are sexualised objects of shame and are seen to blame for the majority of things.

Do you know what my mother said when her friend was murdered by her husband? ‘She talked to much’. I was 14. My mother was also beaten by my father and she simply says ‘This is my fate.’ My siblings and I are also suffering mental illness’ as a result.

It teaches you fatalism and absolute obedience to patriarchal authority. People are not seen as individuals, therefore in my opinion degrades them to less than human beings.

There is no freedom of speech or expression within the community. Any form of self expression is despised- whether through clothing, art or music. With absolute obedience comes absolute conformity.

As you can tell,I could write a thesis on this topic and I think one day I will. I am no longer a Muslim but I have to pretend to be. I don’t unquestioningly embrace Western values either, but I do value freedom of expression, individuality and gender equality- which above all things, the western world values.

[3RD 117] A friend of mine describes himself as an ‘atheist Muslim’, in that he doesn’t believe in God, is quite anti-Islam, but still has to pretend to his family that he is a devout Muslim. He knows his family would disown him if he told the truth, and prefers keeping it a secret so he can still seem them. It’s a desperate situation. I hope that in the future more families will be able to accept their children for whatever they believe in… [The Guardian] Read more

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