In recent years the number of ex-Muslims has been rising all over the world. On Twitter, hashtags like “Awesome without Allah” or “Ex-Muslim because…” were trending. In the USA, according to a PEW Research Centre report, 23% of those born in the Muslim religion don’t identify with it any longer. Most of them keep it secret. Yet, several ex-Muslims speak up on YouTube, including women.
A Turk who grew up in Germany went back to Turkey at the age of 16 and now lives in the USA, has become popular as ‘Apostate Prophet’ on YouTube, so popular that his channel has been, typically for social media giants, demonetized. Most of those ex-Muslims were at one point devout believers who never expected that they could lose faith. Apostate Prophet disclosed that he had sincerely asked Allah to never let him lose faith. Yet now he ends his videos with “Stay away from Islam”.
In Turkey, which turns politically more fundamentalist, many youngsters turn their back on Islam. The government is worried that their indoctrination policy in education doesn’t work as expected. In Saudi Arabia, too, Islam does not have a strong grip on its people which outsiders would expect from the cradle of Islam. In a Gallup poll in 2012, out of 502 Arabs surveyed, 19% considered themselves not as religious and 5% even were convinced atheists. This rate may be much higher now since Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman officially loosened the grip of the clergy.
Naturally, there are no vocal ex-Muslims in countries which punish blasphemy with death, like Pakistan. But why are there hardly any ex-Muslims in India which is a vibrant democracy and nobody can be forced to believe anything against his or her will? Sofiya Rangwala is one of very few who declared on Twitter and Facebook, “I was born in a Muslim family, married to a Muslim, but I have embraced the absolute Truth, beautiful philosophy of Sanatan Dharma.”
India is probably a special case, as the indoctrination into Islam is stronger than in Muslim majority countries because the clergy needs to make sure that Indian Muslims are not tempted to go back to the faith of their ancestors. So the vilification of the Hindu tradition is massive, which makes it difficult even for those Muslims who lost faith in Islam, to appreciate the wisdom of their ancestors and rather adopt the label “atheist”.
Yet there are surely several Muslims in India who lost faith and also can see the value of Hindu Dharma. But why do these Muslims continue to identify as Muslim? The reason may be simple: it has advantages to belong to the ‘minority community’, for example, special scholarships, reservations, etc. Further, one generally gets special treatment by media and in certain areas probably even by the police. If a Muslim returns a wallet, which he found, it may make the news. If a Hindu returns a wallet, it won’t make the news. If a Muslim commits a crime, it may be ignored by the media, or his name won’t be mentioned. If a Hindus commits the same crime, it is likely to be all over the news with his name, even if he is only a suspect.
But why do even eminent persons, like the former president Dr Abdul Kalam, who took inspiration from the Bhagavad Gita, and thereby became in the eyes of pious Muslims as bad as a Kafir, not officially come back to the tradition of their ancestors, even though they seem to have a great liking for it?
The reason may be that Hindus keep pushing those Muslims-only-in-name back into their old identity, and it is difficult for them to break free without disappointing their Hindu admirers. If a Muslim makes sensible statements or appreciates Hindu Dharma, for example in the comment section of Islam critical videos, Hindus will not only praise him but will keep stressing that he is an ideal Muslim, which of course is based on ignorance. He is a good human being but not a good Muslim, because a good Muslim needs to look down on Kafirs and needs to do Jihad so that only Allah is finally worshipped on earth.
It would be helpful if Hindus would learn not to push those, who want to get out, back into their identity. If someone lost faith in his religion, it’s not acceptable that others label her or him as belonging to that religion, and I speak here of myself. For example, if I am introduced as a Christian who loves Hindu Dharma, I naturally correct that I am not a Christian any longer but consider myself a Hindu. If I allowed myself to be addressed as ‘Christian’, I would not be sincere.
Or are there indeed very few “Muslims-only-in –name” in India? I started wondering yesterday when Breaking News reported about a Muslim who is a gau rakshak and has a YouTube channel where he presents his usually reasonable views. I saw some of his videos. His name is Faiz Khan.
Media reported that he started from his home in Chattisgarh to reach Ayodhya for the Bhumi Pujan of the Ram Mandir with earth from his native village where Kausaliya, the mother of Sri Ram, is said to have been born and wants to be admitted at the function as it would be a statement of communal harmony.
At first, I didn’t believe it could be the same Faiz Khan whose videos I liked, but then I realized it was indeed him, and felt greatly disappointed that he doesn’t realize that he should never go there for Bhoomi Puja. Hindus are very good-natured and some even support his move, but this historic moment, when finally Sri Ram is getting back his palace which was destroyed by barbarians of the same religion which the forefathers of Faiz Khan have adopted and which he has not rejected, is not the time to flaunt communal harmony which anyway always rests completely on Hindu shoulders. Faiz Khan had enough time to come back to Hindu Dharma. Some Muslims have done so. But this action convinced me that he is not sincere, that he seems to believe that he has more rights in India than Hindus or he never got over the Islamic teaching that Muslims are superior.
In that spirit, while not doubting that Faiz is a good human being, I understand why Hindus want him to stay away from the Bhoomi Pujan of Ram Mandir, and perhaps, Faiz Khan should.