What is it like to live as an atheist in an Islamic country? Atheist Republic blogger, Abbas Syed lives in an Islamic Republic and offered to share some of his thoughts about Muslims, Islamic countries, and being a muzzled atheist.
To me, surviving in an Islamic republic is like being chained from neck to toe with my lips sealed: I can see and hear everything, but if I try to speak and/or do anything that does not conform to the standards and limitations set by the religious authority, I must be prepared to be punished, perhaps even killed. I can’t express myself and bring your opinion to light. I can’t eat or drink anything in public during Ramadan because the “peaceful” Muslims are fasting, and if I do, I could face jail time. (1, 2, 3) Eating publicly in the month of Ramadan might even be equivalent to asking for a beating.
How often do you come across Muslims who claim they respect everybody’s religion, and that Islam teaches peace and co-existence? Maybe “often” is not quite an appropriate word here; “always” is nearer to reality. They claim to be seekers of global harmony and tolerance, always playing the innocent victim. Don’t be fooled! If we take the briefest look at the history of Muslims, we can conclude that they have NEVER wanted to establish peace within their own territories, let alone co-exist with people belonging to another religion, or no religion at all. The entire history of Islam is immersed in blood - blood of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Atheists, and even Muslims themselves.
Had Islam taught Muslims to respect the religious beliefs of others, Mohammad would never have broken reportedly 360 idols which were kept inside the Kaaba before the Muslims conquered Mecca. Each of those idols belonged to a specific tribe within Mecca. Prior to Mohammad, Abraham (or Ibrahim), the godfather of all Abrahamic religions, also did the same at his time. After Mohammad’s demise, his caliphs continued to wage war upon non-Muslim countries to spread “the religion of peace” far and wide, and this attitude towards other religions did not come to an end even after the period of caliphate.
Mahmud Ghaznavi, a prominent historical hero among the Muslims, but a plunderer in actuality, is famous and lauded in the Muslim community for 17 vicious attacks on India, and the destruction of the Temple of Somnath, which belonged to the Hindu community. Even today, Muslims around the world are accused of smashing idols and are still encouraged to follow the idol-breaker.
Breaking idols and bringing temples to the ground is not the worst these people do; they burn people, order authors to be killed, and commit other atrocities in the name of their prophet. What is saddening, is that many of us non-believers (atheists, agnostics, apatheists, and even apostates) reside in the countries ruled by Islam and its inhumane followers. One cannot "live" in an Islamic republic, one can only "survive".
Making observations, asking questions, reaching evidence-based conclusions, and discussing findings with others is a huge part of the human experience; but, in an Islamic republic, freedom of thought and speech is considered to be an immoral act. The simplest ideas and questions may offend others, leading to harsh punishment, even death.
Do you live in an area controlled by Islam? What is it like for you? What advice do you have for atheists living in such environments? You can share your tips and/or experiences by replying to this email. Please let us know if you wish to remain anonymous.
For a more in-depth account of what it’s like for Abbas living in an Islamic Republic, check out this blog post.