The Inspirational Story of a Woman Who Left Islam to Avoid an Honor Killing

Kimberly Winston at Religion News Service has an incredible profile of 20-year-old “Samya,” an ex-Muslim woman who grew out of her faith and ran away from her family to avoid being the victim of an honor killing:

Samya, out of reach of her family. (Sally Morrow – RNS)

Her parents, she said, think she is guilty of two serious crimes: She rejected a marriage arranged by her father, who came to the U.S. from the Middle East when Samya was an infant. And perhaps more serious to her parents: She has become an atheist.

… One day ["during Ramadan, the Muslim month of daily fasting"], Samya remembered, she was hungry, thirsty and tired from rising before dawn to pray. At that moment, she said, “something just clicked.”

She went into the bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror. A radical thought hit her: “There is no God.” She turned on the tap and took her first sip of water. “I thought, ‘I am free.’”

During a family gathering, an uncle told her that her father had arranged a marriage for her to a man she’d never met in her home country. She was horrified. When she said there was no way she would agree to the marriage, her uncle said he would kill her if she ran away.

“I believed him,” she said.

Samya was rescued, in part, by atheists she knew only through Twitter, who offered her a place to stay, rent-free.

That was two years ago.

Now, she has a new name, a job, and — best of all — freedom.

This is just a glimpse of a longer profile filled with excellent reporting. It’s not a perfectly happy ending — sudden, unrestrained freedom brings with it its own perils — but it’s very likely a happier ending than Samya would’ve seen back home.

Know hope.

On a side note, Kimberly also wrote a wonderful sidebar about Ibrahim Abdallah, the founder of Muslim-ish, a group for former or questioning Muslims based out of New York City and expanding to other cities.

If you’re Muslim and have serious doubts about your faith, know that you’re not alone. The journey out of religion is never easy — certainly it’s tough to leave Islam — but Samya and Ibrahim have done it and their stories will undoubtedly help others out of the wilderness as well.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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