I've dared to release myself from the bounds of religion at a very young but critical age in my conservative community. I look back now and I'm trying to define the moment that turned me into this fearless, unapologetic girl.
Just like any muslim home mine had several quran books. I never considered them but feared them as my mother used to say that if you ruin a quran book by writing on it you will be damned. We had some quranic sayings written across the walls but i never read them. My father prayed. I laugh at how once i tried praying but failed horribly. My mother really hated everything related to religion although she was born in Saudi Arabia.
I was raised in a christian school. I didn't know christians and jews were our enemies in terms of who gets heaven. My school did not consider it their job to enhance our knowledge of the other religion. All i knew was that they didn't share the same religion classes as us and sometimes said stuff that were contradictory to what my religion teacher said. Back when i believed everything she said.
In fourth grade a new religion teacher stepped into our class. She was an overweight hijabi woman. She had a sweet voice and hid under a compassionate smile but i could still see her mean looks when nobody else was looking. She sat on a chair and started drawing mathematical diagrams of islam that nobody understood. Then started to mark lines underneath important passages in our religion book for the upcoming test. Marking every quranic passage as one to memorize. She didn't discuss anything with us. We just have to study for the test. She was practically asking for my hatred.
This woman started my track of hating religion. She made it a subject of memorization for an impossible tests. I studied her tests more than math but still failed.
Till then i didn't know that i was studying islam without my choice.
I sensed how wrong some texts were in our religion book. When i ask about them the teacher would blow me off. I was alone in a class full of students who would agree with the teacher without thinking twice and there i became best friends with Adam*
He was just like me. He didn't believe the teacher nor the book. We Became friends over laughing and talking about her. We would say some witty comments in class. When i argued with the teacher i had a back to protect me . We were together ON this.
Adam was like me he grew up with the possibility of asking how and why. His culture was different that is why in sixth grade Adam had to leave for London. My back was gone. I became a baby with no bones just MOLDY TISSUES. I was alone with a teacher smirking at me because she knew that now she got me. That i could either fail or just shut up and listen to her.
I listened. I didn't argue. I studied the tests and failed . I knew that if i went too far with my thoughts she would fail me. It was an unspoken agreement within us but i still thought about God and religion. Nobody could stop these thoughts not even myself.
And so one day in 8th grade my teacher was being mean to me. I was worked up because i was struggling to keep what i have to say for 4 years. I stood up in class i looked her in the eye and told her that she had no saying in this and got out of the class. I went to my principal. Sat in a chair and told him calmly that i got out of the class because i could not take her anymore. He was shocked. I was the type of girl every teacher loved. He took me to the teacher to say sorry but i still had lots to say.
I looked at her and said that because of her now i hate religion that she teaches it wrong. Its all just passages to memorize for a test that i will fail and that she is so lazy she never moves out of her chair unless the principal was called for.
My classmates were giggling to themselves. I didn't want them to giggle but support me so i finished of with: Its not just me its the whole class.
It was true all of them spoke behind her back. I was the only brave person to tell her that in front of her face.
They all looked at me in a poker face. As if they didn't understand me.
That was the first shock i got from my community. I thought that they had my back because this is what they really thought but they didn't care about fixing things they only wanted to save their butts.
Now i was proud but screwed.
In the summer of 8th grade Adam told me what he really thought about religion. He told me that sometimes he didn't believe in God that there were so many unanswered questions in his head. That it was all so ambiguous. He tried to confine in me but i was shocked. I never expected to hear such words. I was programed to believe in God. I was afraid that listening to him would also make me question the only ground i had. That i will become a kafer (infidel) who i was supposed to condemn. I screamed at him. Trying to convince him and myself with rubbish.
He was in london. He could be an infidel. I'm in Jerusalem if i said such a thing i'll be condemned. I was scared but the bitter truth was that eventually i was going to think the same way. I was going to figure out that my ground was light and feathery filled up with lies.
I didn't know that there was a choice of not believing in God until a breeze swept the feathers away and i fell. Hard.
I entered 9th grade with ease. I had a new class because i changed schools. The religion teacher was a nice woman who didnt just line up passages but now all hope was gone for me. This idea of not studying relegion Was buzzing in my head. I was still the only girl who argued with the teacher about what she said . I wasn't afraid anymore. Sometimes almost on the verges of really becoming a kafer inside the class.
Im not close to my classmates because of these religious views. I'm considered weird and a disgrace because i show my controversial thoughts in the open.
I'm brave i ask the question they think but hide.( This doesn't apply on all my classmates)
Such as why does a woman stay 3 months in her house when her husband dies ?
Why cant i have half the inheritance not 1/3 ?
Why did the perfect God change his mind repeatedly and create different imperfect religions all centered in jerusalem ? Knowing that we humans are troublesome.
These unanswered questions or their silly responses made me rebel.
In 10 grade i really opened up. I was angry about all the time i lost listening to the trash the religion teachers say. I figured out i could be anything. I stopped praying in the morning with my class. Instead i go to my locker and move around between the frozen statues of my classmates.
I was able to speak up and think this way because my mother raised me differently. She got a divorce when i was 9 so i got away from the praying father. Having no man to tell us what to do in the house made it possible for me to think about the universe and God. Also my best friend Adam who is now a real atheist didn't help much in my process of becoming religious.
Last year i posted how i hated islam and seriously was considering changing into an another religion i got 10s of comment telling me of how can i do this and how can i say such stuff. How a disgrace i was. I even learned that i should be killed.
Now seriously, for me all religions are horrible. I was just angry.
Being muslim and not believing in islam for me was like being gay and unable to be open about it. I went to my principal asking him to stop studying islam. Asking to read instead or study christianity just for information. He completely refused and said that this would bring a bad image to the school then called on my mother but she laughed about it.
In my family I'm considered as a disgrace but i like it when they give me the you are a lost case look. Its worse when they try to convince me to stop what I'm doing and go back to my senses. I want to use the part of my brain which shuts down when i believe in God. I want common sense.
I still partially believe in God and still consider myself muslim. I just dont do all the islamic ways of thanking him and remembering him for example i dont pray at all but enjoy fasting in ramadan as a way of bringing the family together. There are many positive sides of islam. (although there are some bad stuff too). Yes islam is viewed wrongly by the media but I've chosen to stay away from any religion because the the circumstances didn't help me. Note that my views are still undecided.
My community is a great one and i went to emphasize on how lots of individuals in my community supported me. When i say community i mean the few people that i've met.
* I changed the name.