The Course of Reason

On the Importance of Supporting Ex-Muslims

May 28, 2013

There are many wonderful accomplishments and services that the secular movement has provided. From taking action on policy issues, raising awareness, and dispelling myths surrounding secular people. One the most important is the tremendous support that it has provided for other secularists. Throughout my involvement in the movement, I have met many people who were questioning or thinking about leaving their religions, but who had no idea that there were others thinking the same thing they were. They sure as hell didn’t know that there were organizations that provided them with a place for non-judgmental discussion and support. Some of these people had been cut off financially or even forced out of their homes, and their discovery of secular organizations changed their lives. There is a group within secularism, however, that requires some extra attention: questioning and ex-Muslims.

American Atheists Billboard in ArabicThis group is a little different, given the nature of the religion that they have been brought up in. A friend of mine, Monica Harmsen, points out that Islam is very good at making itself seem like it’s the default religion. It’s also a religion that severely diminishes followers’ sense of influence over their actions in an almost predeterminist way. Islam is a religion whose higher power is very dictatorial and totalitarian, making departing from the religion emotionally difficult. Even worse, Muslim families, communities, and governments sometimes make it one of the most taboo and dangerous of deeds to denounce Islam. This is why questioning and ex-Muslims require extra support and the utmost acceptance and empowerment. And if there’s one thing that we have learned from successful movements such as the Gay Rights Movement, it’s that when more oppressed people come out of the closet, the more comfortable and acceptable it is for others to do the same.

 Coming out is becoming easier with the help of organizations like the Secular Student Alliance, Center for Inquiry, and many others who have shown tremendous support for those leaving their faiths. A newer, up-and-coming organization—Muslimish—is a promising one, whose mission focuses on supporting questioning and ex-Muslims, in association with The Richard Dawkins Foundation and the Center for Inquiry.

Secular activists and organizations, being a major force of good in helping and supporting others, should not forget or fear to actively reach out to the Muslim community. Many questioning and ex-Muslims have secretly come up to me, relieved to know that there are other ex-Muslims out there that they can meet with and talk to safely. I hope to make that clear to any questioning and ex-Muslim afraid to talk, and to other secular activists out there.

Please, feel free to contact me at or I can safely put you in contact with Muslimish or others feeling the same thing you are. You can also follow Muslimish on Twitter.

Originally posted on Opium of the Smart-Asses.



About the Author: Hassan A. Khalifeh

Hassan A. Khalifeh's photo
Hassan A. Khalifeh is the group leader of the Secular Student Alliance and is a Business management major at Wayne State University. He is the creator and main contributer to the blog Opium of the Smart Asses, and occasionally writes about Secularism and Atheism in the university newspaper.




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