in my society, you can't just say i'm an atheist
you have to celebrate christmas and easter
you have to say الله يرحمو (god will save him/her) when you offer condolences
one should pretend believing in god for the sake of society traditions. believing is a tradition
it's not an opinion or faith, it's not open for discussion. My biggest problem is: i can't make elderly people angry with me, i respect them..for that i pretend i believe in god
Fadi, I wonder if it is possible to make your statement of non-belief so that you are honest with yourself to them, or if you would have to pay too high a price? Do you think your information about yourself will hurt them? If so, how much does it hurt you to remain silent?
Here is my rule for dealing with this conflict in most situations****: respect them when they do good and say wise things; respect the things about their actions and values that are honorable, good, and true. If you show them reverence for being above you in the social heirachy or for being elderly, their authority has more power than the truth.
****I would never expect a person living in a hyper-religious society to follow this rule in regards to religion. It could have personally devestating, potentially dangerous consequences. I'm not even 100% out as atheist because I am not willing to deal with the inevitable interpersonal strife.
I see. I don't mean to suggest your society doesn't have freedom of to express your mind. In my experience, despite what is written in law and goes for talking openly about many things, some topics, like religion, can seem exempt from freedom of opinion. Religion is on a high pedestal in America.
About half the adults on one side of my family have degrees but they defer to tradition and religion in many areas of their life. It's frustrating for me to see openness and willingness to learn in some areas, but religion remains untouchable.
I typically just try not to discuss religion unless the subject comes up somehow. Honestly, religion has brainwashed people so much to the point it's hypnotizing, meaning you must look through the religious perspective on everything.
I can certainly understand your apprehensions. Despite growing up in the UK and having two wonderful, educated parents, I was and still am continually surrounded by religious people/religious family members, for whom Islam is the sole guiding principle in life. These people are kind, loving people, yet their insistence on bringing Allah/Islam into EVERYTHING, be it hoping we make it to a destination on time, praying for a loved one/someone who has passed away etc..is causing an increasing personal strain for the same reasons that you have enunciated - I love these people, I owe them so much for how they have helped me in life, I respect them so much, that I find it difficult to ever voice my beliefs - even as a 30 yr old who lives 200 miles away from my parents and their religious community!
It has reached the point where I no longer look forward to going home, as I would have to pray 5 times and go to the mosque. For those who may feel that, at 30, one should be able to 'man up' and explain to your family, the problem is a simple one. My parents' faith in Islam is so strong that were I to announce my atheism, it would literally destroy them, as they would firmly believe that their precious son is destined for the hellfire. This would impact them massively and remove a lot of happiness and joy from their life, something I would never want to do as I love them and care for them and only want them to be at peace and contented.
Sorry for the long post, and I don't think I even answered the question as I too am conflicted as to how to approach this, Previously, I was able to simply keep my opinions to myself and 'go with the flow', pretend to pray/fast etc..but I find this continual lying, this continual 'double life' to be draining and faintly depressing as I enter my 30s. Either way, I wish you all the best, good luck whatever you decide.
As mentioned above, I am not really happy with the situation these days. Whilst I was able to just lie and go along with the prevailing consensus for want of an easy life, now I find myself increasingly unable to maintain this 'dual' life for the sake of not offending my family/community.
Of course living alone in London, I am free to pursue my life in the way I see fit, and for this I am grateful. It must be so much more difficult for yourself, as the Islamic way of thinking would be endemic and would infiltrate its way into all aspects of daily life, something I would find exceptionally difficult.
I just wish that when I go back home to see my parents/family etc, I did not have to continually suppress myself and lie. That is definitely a recipe for unhappiness.
Wish you all the best Fadi, I hope that one day you find yourself in a location/situation where you can finally live your own life in the way you choose, without having to worry about external condemnation.
I understand your difficulty. I come from a very devout conservative Muslim family. I just tolerated it (tell them I was atheist wouldn't have been a good idea) and then I finished school and moved out to university. I now live alone, an honest pagan, as nature intended.
I understand what you mean. I come from Malta and people are very similar here about how they view religion. We are religious because it is a tradition, many people do not even follow the religion closely, they are just in the church because the whole country is, and to say you don't believe makes you an outsider.
Not everyone from countries with more religious freedom will understand that in these situations you cannot just do what you want, because religion is too much of a part of life in some societies.
I get through it by having a few trusted friends who share my beliefs (or don't mind them) and by simply keeping quiet in most cases so that I won't seem disrespectful. It involves a lot of biting my tongue and not saying what I really want to say.
Good luck to you
I don't know how it is for others, but for me, religious either remained silent or gave me what I call the "Passive Gospel" which is: yield, pray, obey, forgive, turn the other cheek, crucify myself daily in imitation of the crucified christ and rejoice in my crucifixion. Silence in the face of family violence is to imply agreement. By my staying silent, I acquiesced to the imperatives. Nothing changed, rather the battering became worse. My mother and grandmothers acquiesced and they died battered.
Sick! Disgusting! Outrageous! Unacceptable! Wrong! Crime! Assault and battery!
No! silence is useless. For those who buckle under the oppression find no relief but through death. Hurt someone's feeling? Of course; why not? what does one have to lose?