Islam is a difficult religion to leave, probably the most difficult. As with others, children are indoctrinated as soon as they begin to use words.1 But Islam also demands an extraordinarily high level of commitment—praying five times a day, for instance—unquestioning faith, unmitigated obedience, and constant attention. For many Muslims, it becomes a nearly inextricable part of who they are.
In addition to the psychological difficulties of leaving Islam are social and legal difficulties. A Canadian woman named Stephanie (her last name cautiously is omitted in sources about her) learned this the atrociously hard way after converting to Islam in her teens and marrying a Muslim from Libya.2 In his tribe, women are allowed to work, but their options are incredibly limited. Stephanie explains:
I remember one time my daughter asked something of her father, and he told her “no, you can’t do this.” And she looked at him and said, “that’s because I’m a girl, right?” My kids were young at that time, not even three, the eldest. But I was like, what am I turning them into? What am I doing to them, to their opportunities in the future?
When she began expressing discontent with the burdens of Islam, her husband convinced her to move to Europe where he would pursue a PhD. Instead, they entered Libya, where sharia aspects of the law gave him immediate and total control over Stephanie and their children. When she left Libya for a trip back to Canada, he revealed that he would never allow her to see her children again unless she renounced her Canadian custody of them, which would most certainly seal them within Libya forever. It’s been more than five years since Stephanie has held her children, but she refuses to give up custody—because it would require giving up her hopes for their future. . . .
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1. For example, see Jon Hersey, “The Hard-Won Wisdom of a Former Bigot,” The Objective Standard, 14, no. 2 (Summer 2019), https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/2019/03/the-hard-won-wisdom-of-a-former-bigot/.
2. “Stephanie: The Price a Mother Paid for Leaving Islam,” Ex-Muslims of North America, Mini Documentaries, https://exmuslims.org/mini-documentaries/ (accessed September 5, 2019).
3. Louis Doré, “The Countries Where Apostasy Is Punishable by Death,” Indy 100, May 7, 2017, https://www.indy100.com/article/the-countries-where-apostasy-is-punishable-by-death--Z110j2Uwxb.
4. “Bangladesh Students Protest after Blogger Hacked to Death,” BBC, April 7, 2016, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35987345.
5. Martin Bentham, “Pair Arrested over ‘Plot to Kill Female Relative Who Renounced Islam,’” Evening Standard, September 5, 2019, https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/pair-arrested-over-plot-to-kill-female-relative-who-renounced-islam-a4229846.html.
6. Imtiaz Shams, “Are Ex-Muslims Really #AwesomeWithoutAllah?,” YouTube, September 4, 2019, https://youtu.be/4X4la6_8r9c.
7. “Ex-Muslims of North America Debuts Billboards in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston,” Ex-Muslims of North America, September 4, 2019, https://exmuslims.org/ex-muslims-of-north-america-debuts-billboards-in-atlanta-chicago-houston/.
8. “About Us,” Ex-Muslims of North America, https://exmuslims.org/about-us/ (accessed September 5, 2019).
9. Muhammed Syed, “Ex-Muslims Rising: From Islam to Enlightenment,” Ex-Muslims of North America, https://exmuslims.org/campus-tour/#uael-video-gallery-4420d3e-8 (accessed September 5, 2019).
10. “Campaigns,” Ex-Muslims of North America, https://exmuslims.org/campaigns/ (accessed September 5, 2019).
11. “#AwesomeWithoutAllah,” Twitter, https://twitter.com/hashtag/AwesomeWithoutAllah (accessed September 5, 2019).
12. Shams, “Are Ex-Muslims Really #AwesomeWithoutAllah?”
13. For more on rational, life-promoting philosophy, see Craig Biddle, “The Beauty of Ayn Rand’s Ethics,” The Objective Standard, https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/2010/12/the-beauty-of-ayn-rands-ethics/.
14. For instance, see Timothy Sandefur, “The Need for Philosophy in the Islands of the Blessed,” The Objective Standard, 13, no. 4 (Winter 2018), https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/2018/11/the-need-for-philosophy-in-the-islands-of-the-blessed/.
15. “Ex-Muslims of North America Debuts Billboards in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston.”
16. Syed, “Ex-Muslims Rising.”