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.

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Comment by Strega on January 14, 2013 at 2:07pm

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.

Comment by Ed on January 14, 2013 at 8:07pm


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.

Comment by Mr_Swami on January 14, 2013 at 11:34pm

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!

Comment by Cem USLU on January 15, 2013 at 2:57am

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.

Comment by Simon Paynton on January 15, 2013 at 3:05am

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

Comment by Simon Paynton on January 15, 2013 at 3:07am

"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."


Comment by Cem USLU on January 15, 2013 at 3:15am

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. 

Comment by Simon Paynton on January 15, 2013 at 3:19am

Do they have much influence in society? 

Comment by Simon Paynton on January 15, 2013 at 3:36am

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. 

Comment by Cem USLU on January 15, 2013 at 3:47am

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?


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