Tuesday, 8 December 2009
When KimDonesia Left Islam
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Popular young Muslim blogger, KimDonesia renounced Islam. The announcement came as a shock to her fans who follow her blog and her weblog.
The following is her testimony of leaving Islam: “I would like to mention, before I go into my story, that I was very disappointed when searching for ex-Muslim testimonials on the internet while I was thinking about leaving Islam. I was looking for stories that I could relate to in order to know that I was not alone. However, a lot of the ex-Muslims were Western women who had married a Muslim man and did not have a very pretty relationship. This makes me cringe, because first of all it seems that each of these women converted for a man and left because of a man, and it did not help me in my journey apostatising from Islam. These women did not exactly directly criticise Islam or provide answers. They, instead, based their views on Islam on the man they were married to which did not help me at all. I prefer direct criticism of Islam and its actual teachings based on the Qur'an and sunnah.
Anyway, so first of all, I guess I would better start with the formalities. I am from Queensland, Australia. I do not tell people my exact whereabouts in big old Queensland for safety reasons - you know, death penalty for apostasy from Islam and all of that lovely stuff. I am a young woman of 18-years-old. But do not judge me based on age! In a nutshell, I converted to Islam after being attracted to it while living in Indonesia with my step-father for a while. I was Muslim for almost 2 years, since I was 16-years-old, and within that time, I acquired a great deal of Islamic knowledge and had extremely high iman. I agreed with everything in the Qur'an, I prayed 5 times a day, I fasted from sunrise to sunset during Ramadhan and also non-obligatory fasts two days a week. I wore a hijab, and was very strict with my clothing. Nothing I wore was allowed to show any curve on my body whatsoever. I was strongly ‘connected’ to Allah - so much that I would talk to Him every night before I went to sleep. Every good deed I did was for Allah, and everything else I did was with fear of Allah’s Punishment if I did something wrong.
Early in my two years as a Muslim, I started doing my own form of da’wah on YouTube. I became quite well-known on there as ‘KimDonesia’, and I even went on the radio in Turkey, went on TV in the Middle East during Ramadhan and did interviews for Islamic magazines. I constantly received praise, and nobody ever came to me with doubts of whether I was a Muslim or not. I would like to add that when I publicly left Islam, the Muslims turned to their most common logical fallacy in justifying my apostasy – ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy, such as ‘You were never a real Muslim, so that is why you left Islam. No true Muslim could ever leave.’ It is funny that these claims were never made when I was a Muslim.
On my 18th birthday, my beloved canine family member and companion passed away. Beauty was a dog that my family had in our lives for 14 years, so her death struck us all. We were devastated, though convinced ourselves that she was no longer in pain - she had liver cancer and had to be euthanised - and that she had gone to a “better place”. The death of my dog sent me into a depression which lasted for more than a week.
Contrary to the popular belief of Muslims mocking me and degrading the value of my dog’s life by saying I left Islam for a mere ‘ugly, dirty mutt that was haram for me to keep anyway’, it was not the death of Beauty that caused me to leave Islam. I do admit that she was the contributor to my constant thinking about death - the cognitive process that led me away from Islam. I wish I could thank her. She caused me to realise that we will all die someday, which resulted in my fear for my non-Muslim family. You see, the Qur’an teaches that all of the non-believers who were exposed to Islam at some point in their worldly life - yet still reject it - will go to Hell for eternity and will be shown no mercy. I was terrified for my family and tried to think of ways to bring them to Islam.
My depression was cured when I confessed my fears to my mother. Mum knew that what I was depressed about had something to do with my choices about religion, however she waited for me to come to her rather than make assumptions. I cried to her and admitted out loud, for the first time, that my perception of God was different than the angry, sadistic dictator in the Qur’an. You could say I believed in the Deist god. No matter how much Muslims try to sugar-coat Allah’s personality, or Muhammad’s alter ego, as shown in the Qur’an, I started to see right through it.
I explained to Mum that it is simply not logical that an Omniscient God would create the human race just so that the majority of them would be sentenced to infinite punishment for finite actions. Mind you, the main action to grant one Hell would be to not believe in God. I decided with my mother that I wanted to leave Islam, however I still wanted to believe in God - I simply wanted to detach myself from organised religion. However, I later realised that I was just following Pascal's Wager, meaning I was believing in God just in case there really was one and belief in God was the only thing that could get me a place in Heaven, if there was one. I realised that the existence of a God is illogical and in reality, cannot be proven. The day that God comes to me and shows me that He Exists, I will believe in Him. Or I might believe I had gone insane and had started hallucinating. For now, as there is simply no evidence that a God Exists, I will continue to not believe in God.
I have been reading ‘The God Delusion’ and might I say, Richard Dawkins is a complete genius. With this book, any lingering desire in my mind to believe in a God has been completely pushed out. I now understand that belief in God is a delusion, and we as human beings can live a more fulfilling life without religion or God for that matter. We do not need to delude ourselves just because we need “something” to “be there” and we are too cowardly to face that this is the only life we'll live, and we need to be free from religious indoctrination. We need to make the most of the only life we will get, rather than spend it worshiping and fearing a supernatural being that probably does not even exist.
I do admit that I am rather proud of myself as it took a lot of strength to leave Islam and lose my beliefs in an imaginary sky daddy. I based my entire life around Islam and when I apostatised, I no longer knew how to live without religion. It took time, but I am fine and completely happy now. I am back on track - back to how I used to be before Islam. Furthermore, I am proud of my bravery to “come out” in public on YouTube as a new non-Muslim. I was surprised at how many ex-Muslims were approaching me, as well as Muslims thinking about leaving Islam and just needing that little push from somebody they could relate to.
Since I have left Islam publicly, most of the online Muslim community has been brutal. I have received a few death threats and wishes of AIDs upon me, ad hominem attacks left right and centre, assumptions that are logically fallacious, and ridicule for my decision to leave Islam. I do admit it has been difficult and it may get worse as I am not going to stop speaking out about my views about Islam. However, I take comfort in the fact it is only because their minds have been enslaved and completely closed, and their beliefs are laughable therefore nothing they say really matters.”
This is my understanding. She converted at the age of about 16 and renounced just after she turned 18. This is not really new although it is a high profile one in the blogging and weblogging community. She was rather popular and presented a new perspective on Islam. However, it has to be known that a large percentage of people who convert to Islam stop practicing within the first three years. Perhaps the figure is as high as 70%. Also, her belief that she “had acquired a great deal of Islamic knowledge and had extremely high iman,” is also nonsense. That is something a child or a delusional person would say. What can you learn in two years?
It is sad but not surprising. I have also viewed the responses from the Muslim community and much of it is quite disappointing. Name calling, insults and derision are not the way. It is also disingenuous to say that she lacks faith or she lacks knowledge. This is not the way of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and these Muslims are a disgrace to their faith.
Addressing the issue of faith, it is not something quantifiable by any measure that we have. And that is why we leave it to Allah (s.w.t.). Just as no one likes it when their faith is judged, we should not judge the faith of others. In the Path, it is known that we believe not by our capacity but by His. You cannot know your God by intellect since the intellect is corrupted by the Self and is inherently flawed. You cannot measure the depth of the ocean with a bucket. How do we even define faith? There are so many definitions. The Bible itself talks so much about faith but only one part actually defines it:
1 Now, faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not. 2 For by this the ancients obtained a testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the world was framed by the Word of God: that from invisible things visible things might be made.
Faith is to know in your heart that which is not apparent by the senses. It is the Certainty of Allah (s.w.t.) and the Promise. If you can see the extraordinary in the Ordinary, you have found your God. When you see the ordinary in the extraordinary, you have known your God. As to knowledge, knowledge alone does not lead to faith. Witness how many intellectual atheists are there? And how many have rejected Islam despite knowing the truth? But knowledge alone does not give assurances. There are many levels of apostasy from the rejection of the ummah to rejection of God to the rejection of God’s Existence.
KimDonesia gave several reasons why she decided to leave Islam. The first thing cited was the death of her dog. Going through the web, I understand this is something many Muslims cannot understand. People who keep dogs will. In this case, Kim said she went into depression. I can understand that the loss of anyone close to you can trigger a lot of soul searching. Maybe she had Muslim friends telling her there are no dogs in Jannah? To this, I can only say that we will be with the ones we love in the Garden. That is a hadits. What did start was the realisation that Islam is not all that we think it is.
There is a story about two muridun of a Mawlana Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi (q.s.) who fought and one murid said something very hurtful to the other. When the shaykh found out, he told the offender to go to Makkah and destroy the Ka’bah. The murid was shocked. “Why would you ask me to do such a terrible thing?”
And the Shaykh replied, “If you cannot guard the Ka’bah of the Heart, what use is there to pay homage to the physical Ka’bah?”
The physical Ka’bah in Makkah has been torn down many times in its history and always rebuilt. But the Ka’bah of the Heart, once torn down may never be the same. And that is why in the Qur’an, Allah (s.w.t.) Speaks of removing the sense of lurking injury from the hearts of those in Paradise because it is that which veils us from our Vision of the Essence, adz-Dzat. Only those of the Elect have mastered their nafs enough to remove it. There is no self to feel hurt. The rest of us need help. I most certainly do not think that Kim simply left Islam because her dog died. What it did precipitate is the soul searching. That same soul searching that probably brought her to Islam and she thought she came home. What she never realised was that she had only made it to the start point. “Home” is so very far away. But that is a journey that requires the right kind of companionship which she might not have had. Thus that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Kim talked about the worry about her family going to Hell. She said she could not understand how a Merciful God could damn her non-Muslim family. Truth is, this is something even Muslims are guilty of believing. The concept of Hell is not something to be trifled with. All that you can think of that is terrible, all the fires of existence cannot compare to the terrors of Hell. And to worry that those closest to you will end up there is a sign of faith. But nowhere in the Qur’an does it say that Muslims go to heaven and non-Muslims, ghayr muslimin, go to Hell. It says the believers, mu’minun, go to Heaven and the concealers of Truth, kafirun, go to Hell. In Surah al-Fatihah, Allah (s.w.t.) is addressed as Maaliki Yawm ad-Din. He is the Master of the Day of Judgement. He is not merely ‘Maliki’ or ‘King’. The secret of this is that even a king is bound by rules. But the Master makes the rules. My God is the Master of the Day of Judgement. He is also the Most Merciful and the Most Beneficent, beyond compare. Dare I think I am more Merciful than He with regards the fate of His Creation? Allah (s.w.t.) Alone Decides who is a believer and who is not; not any of His Creation.
There is an atsar, a saying attributed to a Companion (r.a.) with a weak or absent sanad to the Prophet (s.a.w.), of Abu Bakr asw-Swiddiq (r.a.); that speaks of a Day when the Gates of Hell lie open, dangling on their hinges and Hell will be like a wheat field newly mown. In the Qur’an, when the rewards of Heaven are mentioned, the word used is translated as ‘forever’ with the added line that this is “a Promise without end.” But when Hell is mentioned, the line about the Promise is not there. My God is an Exacting God. The words of the Qur’an are not frivolously arranged. The Arabic word does not mean “forever”. What it does refer to is an immeasurably long period of time, beyond human comprehension.
She claimed that her perception of “God” differs from the “Qur'anic God”. This is an issue of tawhid. If tawhid is strong, faith is on a rock. If tawhid is weak, faith is built on quicksand. It is quite unfortunate that Kim could not reconcile her idea of a loving God with an angry God because of her reading of the Qur’an also points out that she did not really understand what she read in context. You cannot read the translation of the Qur’an and hope to understand fully the breadth of meaning conveyed. Even those with decades of study and learning will always find something new.
Allah (s.w.t.) is a Merciful God above all. Allah (s.w.t.) declares that His Mercy overcomes His Wrath. And there are many stories and hadits to emphasise that. If Kim expects a loving God, then He is al-Wadud, the Most Loving. If she expects a generous God, He is ar-Razzaq, the Most Generous. If only she learned the nature of Allah (s.w.t.), His Attributes and His Names. This would never have been an issue.
And finally, is there proof God Exists? As much as the intellectual atheists such as Dawkins can argue and assert, deep down inside, we all know the Truth, since Allah (s.w.t.) is al-Haqq. It is fithrah to Know that there is a God. It is arrogance to assert that there is no God, since if man kills God, man has elevated himself to godhood. The most eloquent response that I can think of is this: A man once asked Mawlana Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi (q.s.) if God Exists. And Mawlana ar-Rumi (q.s.) said, “Look at the sandstorm. Do you see the sand?”
And the man said, “Yes.”
Then Mawlana ar-Rumi (q.s.) asked, “Do you see the wind?”
And the man said, “No.”
Mawlana ar-Rumi (q.s.) asked him, “Can you see the world?”
And the man said, “Yes.”
Mawlana ar-Rumi (q.s.) asked, “Do you need to see God?”
And then she said she did not feel the Closeness to God. On comes close to God by good works and sincere intentions. And by love of Him and His Prophet (s.a.w.). The rest comes by itself, since it is not us who gets close to God, but God Who Comes Close to us. I hope Kim understands the words of Abraham (a.s.):
He said: And who despaireth of the Mercy of his Lord save those who are astray? (Surah al-Hijr:56)
And finally, she said Muslims took her apostasy badly. In my post: The Wali & the Swineherd, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir (q.s.) admonished the muridun for abandoning their shaykh. He said they should even have left Islam for his sake to bring him back. True friends are your friends even in the darkest of times. If these are her friends, then they are not the best of people. She should stay away from them regardless. They are not even good Muslims since they have shown the attributes of being hypocrites. And may Allah (s.w.t.) Forgive them and guide them.
Kim does not know Islam as well as she claims. It is unfortunate. Because if she did, all these are non-issues. Ours is not a religion that condemns people to Hell. Stupid Muslims do that. Just like ignorant people of all faiths. Allah (s.w.t.) Finds so many reasons to put His Creation in Jannah. And there are those who go around putting them in Jahannam. And there is no such thing as a death penalty for apostasy. That was never the way of the Prophet (s.a.w.). There is a death penalty for waging war against the ummah. But there is no legal process for it to be defined contemporarily, let alone implemented.
What people should realise is that it does not really matter where we are now. What matters is where we are going. And wherever we go, we cannot go alone. Even the one who seems to walk alone, Allah (s.w.t.) has Sent a guardian and a shaykh. Apostasy need not be forever. And so maybe for Kim, an ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (q.s.) would say, “Tell her, her Lord Bids her come back. I was never away. I was always there. Just call My Name again.”