Being an Atheist in a Muslim Community

There are lots of minorities in many countries. But these minorities were mostly based on etnic and/or religious groups. However being an Atheist, detaches you from the society based on your own thoughts or decisions. In a Muslim community, religion is very powerful in daily life. It seperates believers from non believers in a cunning sense. For instance; obtaining a proper position in a governmental/state organization, or even in private companies (because of their political status) depends on your religious expression.Another important part is the role of family. Since 99.9 percent of the population is Muslim, your parents are Muslim and most of them would kill themselves rather than watching you become a non believer. So they will teach you everything in a commanding and rewarding fashion. 

This lifestyle leaves you only one choice; having two identities. First one is your formal identity, its like the way you talk or act in your job; and your hidden personal identity. You have to be really careful otherwise you will get discharged from your community. You cannot find a proper job, even your family will be really harsh on you.

We are in an ironic age, I can discuss Quantum Physics, determinism here and I cannot discuss even the basic principles of Islam in any kind of platform in my home, job or rest of my social life.

In Islam there were no reforms unlike Christianity so it is well preserved/protected. Muslim people are very proud to tell this. In fact, it is proves how corrupt it is. 1400 years of preservation gives you nothing but a Conservative mind.

  • Strega

    Hi Cem,

    That makes perfect sense, in that you really do have to live two lives.  Do you feel that access to the internet is giving more young Muslims a chance to think outside the Koran?  I can see from your post here that it enables you to discuss subjects that you could not do in your non-computer orientated life, but I wondered if you got a sense of whether your experience is spreading amongst others where you live.

  • Ed


    The violent intolerance of radical Islam makes it an even harder proposition to see change come about in the Middle East.  To be outspoken is a death knell.  The Inquisition by the Catholic Church for 800 years is the only thing I know that rivals what you and others potentially face. It is unnerving that these zealots consider their actions warranted and desired by their loving god. For you there are no easy answers outside of relocation to a more hospitable environment. 

    Be safe.

  • Mr_Swami

    Living in the U.S., it's no different for someone in the same position. While, I don't face the (government instituted) death penalty for apostasy, revealing yourself as an atheist, humanist, rationalist, etc. (or even agnostic), you essentially will be severed and ostracized from your community, household, every relationship you've held dear throughout your life. One still ends up leading a double life, if for nothing more than pragmatic reasons. My wife and my close friends know about my beliefs and my exercise in rejecting religion based on logic and reason, and that is the extent of the people that know. I hope to pass on rational thought and the ability to exercise that rational thought to my child; hopefully my child grows up in a world that is less ready to ostracize based on religious acceptance and more ready to accept based on exercise of rational and logical judgment.

    Likewise, Cem, be safe, be well and good luck!

  • Cem USLU

    Dear all,

    Thanks for all of your good wishes. First of all I love my country and I want to live here as long as possible. On the other hand, I wanted to point out the importance of religion in all areas of life.

    When I was working in Libya (and it was Eid (fastening)), a Libyan man came to me and said "I will kill you if stop smoking that cigarette in front of us." and I said "Go yourself". He did not say anything to Christians who are smoking with me. Living in a Muslim community is not that bad, living in a Muslim community as a Muslim is like hell.

    Some of my Muslim friends told me that they are sorry because I am going hell. That is the power of religion. God does not exist dear friends, but the idea of God is more powerful than Almighty(!) itself. If you want to wipe the idea of god please see the link below.

  • Simon Paynton

    Cem USLU - What do you think about Sufism?  Have they got it right?  Would a Sufi threaten to kill you for smoking a cigarette? 

  • Simon Paynton

    "Ayer opined that there was "no logical ground for antagonism between religion and natural science", as theism alone does not entail any propositions which the scientific method can falsify."


  • Cem USLU

    Simon, I think Sufis are one of the few nice things about Islam. First of all they are spiritual and isolated that means no harm can come from them. Secondly they are very friendly to discuss anything with you so they are open minded. 

  • Simon Paynton

    Do they have much influence in society? 

  • Simon Paynton

    That's just Ayer's opinion.  He said that no grounds exist for the antagonism, not that there is no antagonism.  I agree with you though, there's a lot of cultural baggage in all the religions.  From what I understand, it was in the Enlightenment that scientists started to apply science to Christianity, and Christianity shot itself in the foot by agreeing to fight back on scientific grounds. 

  • Cem USLU

    If I try to prove the non existence of God, it is as silly as searching clues and relating them with God. As I wrote before The idea of God is what we should discuss, not the God itself. Why do we have to define something to believe? We don't believe our family,friends but someone we don't know anything about. Even assume God exists, don't I have a right to disobey?

  • Kairan Nierde

    Cem-first I had to realize there is no God, then I could see that there is the Idea of God which is much more important to understand.  I think that why theism persists today has more to do with the Idea of God than the merits of any religion's version of God.  Why do we seem to need something more than our family and friends to believe in?

    Mr_Swami--are you talking about living in a Muslim community in America? I have no idea what that is like.  But if you're just talking about the average experience of atheism in America, I have to disagree, because it is very unlikely that you will be killed in most communities in America for disbelief.

  • Val Wuthrich

    That's the way I understand it too, Gallup's Mirror. The schism of religion with (science and reason) started when we reasoned and realized we aren't at the center of Gods creation. At first the Judea/Christian theocrats couldn't reconcile their bible with a new world view that said we weren't at the center of God's creation. Now we know how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things! At least some know! I will leave it at that.
  • Strega

    I clicked on your link, Gallup's Mirror - if I was a parent I think I'd be having palpitations.  The only bit I liked, was:

    "It's a shame," says Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, "because if these standards are actually introduced into the curriculum and shape how biology students will be trained for the next several years, those kids are in for a big shock when they go to college, because they're going to learn that what they had been taught by their teachers in high schools is a lot of rubbish."

    Yup, 'bout sums it up :)

  • Cem USLU

    Kairan, of course you have your own realizations, however the concept of God is where we should start our debate. People have to understand that it is pure nerd movement. In practical life in order to achieve success you have work as a team, and of course team has a leader. If you are leader and your group starts to question your decisions, your leadership and as a result whole group will fail. To prevent this you create your dogmas to prevent your group to question your decisions. If you want to apply this rule to massive population, you must have constitution, religion etc. Now all of this looks familiar, right? 

    If you try to prove that God does not exist you will eventually fail. However if you understand why people created "God", everything seem more understandable, I guess. 

    You cannot reach zero if you count down from infinity, but if you start to count from zero -at least- you have some number in your hand. God is infinity, and we have to count from zero.

  • Cem USLU

    herd not nerd :D

  • Cem USLU

    what are these dots, can you define them. Nope. Why? bec its undetermined.

    In turkey we say "if you have nothing to say wise, don't try to say smt. o/w you'll look stupid"

  • Cem USLU

    you cannot prove that God does not exist. don't try to. you dont have to. you dont need to. On the other hand, you can prove that "believing" something without any scientific evidence, is stupid.

  • Cem USLU

    so can you at least tell me how many numbers we have between 1 and inf. If you are claiming that you can determine its size you have to be finite. You donot know anything about maths and algorithms i suppose. BTW congrats for computing inf, which could not be done by any mega computer. You must be genius!