MidEast Youth conducted an interview with Arabic Atheist to pose the question: “Is Islam driving its youth away?” This interview with a 23 year old business student in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Q: I noticed that when we first discussed this, you said that you’re an atheist shortly before you tried to convince me that you’re not anti-Arab. Explain to me why you feel the need to do that?
A: Because non-Muslim Arabs are left out. We feel like we have no real space in society, especially in any intellectual field. When I say I’m atheist, people always tell me that I have become traitor. A sell-out. Someone who doesn’t know what it truly means to be “Arab.” Why? Because Arab means Muslim and Muslim means Arab? What does personal religious views have to do with my culture, my past, my identity? An Arab, this is something I am. This is something I take much pride in. Why do people attach my personal opinions to who I am, to my nationality? Does being Arab mean being intellectually identical to every other Arab out there?
Q: What do you mean?
A: I mean that religion is everything to a person. Especially when you strictly practice it, it quickly consumes everything you have. If you don’t honestly believe in any religion then you shouldn’t identify yourself as a believer of any religion.
Q: So your choice of being a Muslim has much to do with socialization rather than Islam itself?
A: Precisely. I have a problem with any existing religion that people are forced into. In any normal society there should be a choice, and whatever that choice is, it needs to be respected.
Q: What about Islam? When people learn that you are an ex-Muslim, do they ever imply that you’re anti-Muslim too?
A: Yes even though the connection for me isn’t really there. For a lot of ex-Muslims you will see that they have a major problem with Islam itself most likely due to the societies they live in. My reasons aren’t Islam, in fact I have a bigger problem with Christianity than Islam, and I have no problem with being in a Muslim culture and living around Muslims or being a part of a Muslim family. But I have a problem when someone is offended with my decision of not being a Muslim, and in the Arab world this is a huge problem as I’m sure you know.
Q: Yes, my problem is with Islam being enforced upon people who don’t really accept it but don’t have the balls to say “I don’t want this religion and I don’t respect it.”
A: Exactly and this is what our youth faces today, fear. If they say it they are damned to Hell by not only their families and friends but by society as a whole.
Q: This is a new generation going through all kinds of experiences… this is the best time ever to start fighting for not only our rights but the rights of others within our communities. Minorities in Arab countries go through a lot and it’s unacceptable. We should be the ones condemning this injustice.
A: Arab Baha’is, now this is a minority that I truly feel for. You know the Baha’i faith is considered a “bullshit religion” here. Most people don’t know what it really is, so throughout the region they lack the most basic rights because people consider them infidels. I think their case in certain countries are worse than that of Jews or Christians.
Q: What do you think about that?
A: I think anyone who attacks others for being different aren’t confident enough to deal with intellectual and religious challenges.
Q: What’s the difference being “careless” and “atheist?” I meet so many people who call themselves atheist when they really mean that they don’t subscribe to any other religion.
A: Yes, for the past two years I used to describe myself as agnostic until I realized that I strongly disbelieve in the existence of any God as there is no real evidence, which is what led me to become an atheist. Religions are all mythical. This is the argument that usually offends others… but I don’t have anything against their views! I’m just saying what I believe and people here go crazy about it.
Q: A lot of Muslims all over the Muslim world would literally kill anyone who disagrees and then they expect progress. In my opinion this isn’t really Islam. By the way, what do you think about Koranic (real) Islam and political Islam?
A: No offense but the fact that there are so many types of Islam only proves that it’s not a real religion but rather one created simply for the sake of social control.
Q: Is it really our fault when men claim they can’t control their raging desires to have sex with any woman who shows her face or hell, even HANDS?
A: My girlfriend is Japanese and she tells me that this same idea exists in their culture too, which is also very male dominant. Of course this is with Geishas, not with hijab. As you know Geishas paint their faces white, and if a man sees a trace of her real skin color, this is considered very tempting! I was surprised when she told me. Whenever we discuss these things it’s really amazing how many similarities we have.
Q: And you share them quite comfortably, you even quickly agreed to do this interview, why?
A: To show everyone that Arabs aren’t really what most people say we are especially with regards to our youth. Atheism, converts, apostasy, these are all considered big taboos that’s why we don’t talk about it. People fail to understand us and who we really are when we fail to discuss these things publicly and securely. Everyone thinks we’re so oppressed and that we easily fall for religion or that we are comfortable with our societal and cultural restrictions, but we are so diverse here. Arabs should never be defined as Muslims. We’re all different and fellow Arabs need to learn how to respect this difference instead of trying to make everyone else think the way they do.
Q: Do you find Islam to be a problem that leads to our societal restrictions?
A: Well, a lot of religious Muslims are decent and understand the importance of living in a free and tolerant society. I know that Islam is not our problem. Politics is our weakness and Islam is just an excuse that many of our governments successfully get away with.
Read the entire interview here.
For a site dedicated to atheist Arabs, visit http://www.arabatheist.humanists.net/English/homepage/homepage_eng.htm