A Blogging Network for Ex-Muslims

Here’s some exciting news: The Ex-Muslims of North America — yep, they exist — have launched a new blog network featuring writers who left Islam:

The EXMNA believe that it is our duty to broadcast the gems of apostate intellectual discourse to the best of our ability, and for this reason we began work on bringing together various Ex-Muslim bloggers to form an apostate blogging community. Apostasy is not a monolithic ideal, and we aim to provide a platform to the wide variety of viewpoints in order to provide a more nuanced understanding of the issues around it.

As if your RSS feed wasn’t full enough already… oh well. Add these to the list, too!

(via Between a Veil and a Dark Place)

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.

  • momtarkle

    Allah Akbar!

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    These men and women must have very difficult, very delicate, probably painful, and possibly hazardous situations with their families and their communities. I admire their courage and determination, and I wish them success. I hope the rest of the American atheist movement can embrace and be supportive of them.

    • Mackinz

      Funny you don’t see Joe Klein helping ex-Muslims transition to a non-Muslim life.

  • Coolred38

    As an ex Muslim who became an atheist while living smack dab in a country surrounded by Muslims…it was a hard transition that I had to tread carefully through. The one thing Muslims (and I mean Arab as well in this sense as that is whom I live among) have got a hold on firmly…they don’t care what you think, believe or do as long as you don’t do it in public. You want to be an atheist, or apostate from Islam, or gay even, then do it…just don’t harp on about it and spread your new status publicly because they don’t want to have to hear it and then be forced to deal with it. And by deal with it I don’t mean cut your head off or some such thing (though that does happen in some places, or something equally horrific) but they will feel the deep seated need to have to vocally correct your claims of why you found Islam wrong enough that you had to defect from it, and to tell the truth there aren’t many Muslims in my experience that could “defend” Islam with any real sense of knowledge about it. They grew up practicing it, being force fed bits and pieces of it that keep them all in line and believing, but for real knowledge…they leave that to the sheiks and imams (who, incidently, aren’t always any more informed about it than the average layman, they just know more fearful words to use and have the power of persuasion). My experience also has taught me that far more Muslims are pretend Muslims (going through the motions just to please the family, community and, in some cases, govt) then are real die hard believing everything the Quran etc. claims Muslims. Which, at the end of the day, is a good thing for the rest of us.

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      Thank you for these insights. From your experience, can you tell us if ex Muslims living in the West are able to easily mix with and feel comfortable with atheists who are ex Christians or who, like myself, were never religious, but still grew up in the atmosphere of a predominantly Christian culture?

      Hearing the stories of some of my ex Christian atheist friends has been a real eye opener for me. Even though I had lived in the same overall Christian milieu, many of their experiences, many of the ideas that they had to free themselves from were as bizarre to me as if they were from a different planet.

      I wonder if that strangeness would be even more pronounced between atheists from Christian backgrounds and atheists from Muslim backgrounds. Although we have a commonality in our struggle to free ourselves from religion, and we probably share similar painful experiences with our families, loved ones, and friends, can we overcome the differences in our “accents” and understand each other well enough so we can comfortably work together for our mutual benefit?

      I certainly hope so, but at first I can foresee myself or my ex Christian friends inadvertently making blunders with you and your ex Muslim friends simply because we don’t understand the nuances of your backgrounds, and the particular emphases of your struggles. I hope you will forgive our clumsiness if at first we’re like the stereotypical well-meaning but poorly informed American tourist who unwittingly offends people in the foreign country he is visiting because he doesn’t know the proper local etiquette.

      We need to have our groups meet and get to know each other.
      An inter-EX-faith council.

      • Coolred38

        I believe that one of the bigger hang ups that newly born atheists find among themselves are the rituals associated with their religion. Once I left Islam, the beliefs themselves quickly fell away, the rituals were harder to abandon as they are so ingrained in ones daily life. This is a similarity I have found between ex followers of faiths that are built upon the adherence to rituals. It makes you wonder whether catching children while they are young is more successful because those beliefs have been firmly settled into the brain, or the continuous participation in rituals that constantly renews ones membership in the faith. Are you a Muslim because you believe every word of the quran and every word uttered by the prophet or are you a Muslim because you pray, eat with your right hand, avoid pork and such? Many of my ex Muslim friends cast off the beliefs with no regret or hesitation (once the final straw had hit) but abandoning life long (or in some cases only years long as with converts) habits and rituals was a struggle. Some of them still avoid pork only because they have always avoided it. Some of them still divide the day up according to what prayer is due (not that they pray but Muslims are very mindful of time based on prayer). And others still find themselves involuntarily shrinking inside when they hear a slight against Mohammed or something concerning the Quran simply because it’s very ingrained to feel that shrinking feeling. A habit that is hard to break. I believe that sharing these stories..not necessarily the beliefs but the rituals that need to be shaken…are what bring atheists of differing religions together. It’s generally what I find us all talking about when we find ourselves discussing what part was hardest to overcome.

        • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

          This is very helpful information. Thank you.

        • cary_w

          It is interesting and informative to hear your insight on this, but I have a question for you. Why do you feel the need to give up habits and rituals once you stop believing in the deity? Certainly you should be giving up any rituals and traditions that are harmful to anyone, but there is nothing harmful about avoiding pork and dividing up your day according to prayer times. So why give them up? Culture and religion are too intertwined to separate. Maybe it would be easier on ex-Muslim if they could look at a lot of these rituals as a part of their culture and family traditions rather than rules dictated by their former religion. While I do find it hypocritical to be attending a church, and participating in all the prayers and mysticism, when you don’t believe, there is nothing wrong with passing family traditions on to your children.

          I feel very fortunate to have been raised this way. My family was essentially what we would now call “nones”, we went to a Unitarian church for a short time, but religion was never a big part of our lives. But all our ancestors were Christian, so we celebrated Christian holidays and followed all kinds of Christian traditions. My mother, who had a more religions upbringing, has an extensive knowledge of Bible stories, and never shied away from telling them to us when we encountered religious art, literature or music. But she told these stories in the same way she told us about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny; like they were myths or legends, stories, not something that we were supposed to believe as true.

          It seems to me that an ex-Muslim could be the same way, and enjoy the food, art and celebrations of being Muslim, while giving up the harmful traditions and the belief in a God.

  • NoCrossNoCrescent
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, TOWAN

      oh, calm down already. there are so many religions in the world, and so little blogging time!

      this is a good blog that touches on the evils of many religions. if you don’t like the focus here, you’re welcome to go start writing your own.

    • NoCrossNoCrescent

      Bull. It implies you solve the problems closest to you first.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, TOWAN

    i know a mess of non-practicing “muslims.” they are amusing and wonderful people i’m glad to count as friends. i find their stories of their journeys away from Islam fascinating.

    • Thor

      You should let them know about exmna ;)

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    It’s sad that you don’t understand why that would be, and are, rather sickeningly, determined to use your ignorance as an excuse to attack people with false premises.

  • Jennifer Beahan

    Got the pleasure of meeting some of the leaders and members of EXMNA recently – what a great group of people and they have a kick-ass logo too!