Atheists and Islam – No God, not even Allah


A MOB attacked Alexander Aan even before an Indonesian court in June jailed him for two and a half years for “inciting religious hatred”. His crime was to write “God does not exist” on a Facebook group he had founded for atheists in Minang, a province of the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Like most non-believers in Islamic regions, he was brought up as a Muslim. And like many who profess godlessness openly, he has been punished.

In a handful of majority-Muslim countries atheists can live safely, if quietly; Turkey is one example, Lebanon another. None makes atheism a specific crime. But none gives atheists legal protection or recognition. Indonesia, for example, demands that people declare themselves as one of six religions; atheism and agnosticism do not count. Egypt’s draft constitution makes room for only three faiths: Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Sharia law, which covers only Muslims unless incorporated into national law, assumes people are born into their parents’ religion. Thus ex-Muslim atheists are guilty of apostasy—a hudud crime against God, like adultery and drinking alcohol. Potential sanctions can be severe: eight states, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Sudan have the death penalty on their statute books for such offences.

In reality such punishments are rarely meted out. Most atheists are prosecuted for blasphemy or for inciting hatred. (Atheists born to non-Muslim families are not considered apostates, but they can still be prosecuted for other crimes against religion.) Even in places where laws are lenient, religious authorities and social attitudes can be harsh, with vigilantes inflicting beatings or beheadings.

Many, like Kacem el-Ghazzali, a Moroccan, reckon the only solution is to escape abroad. The 23-year-old was granted asylum in Switzerland after people found out he was the author of an anonymous blog, Even in non-Muslim lands ex-believers are scared of being open, says Nahla Mahmoud, a 25-year-old Sudanese atheist who fled to Britain in 2010. “Muslim communities here don’t feel comfortable with having an ex-Muslim around,” she says, noting that extremists living in the West may harass non-believers there too.


3 replies

  1. ‘No God, not even Allah’. This sounds as though there are multiple Gods, when there is supposed to be only one, whether ‘he’ is referred to as God, Allah or Jehovah.

    Again, I am grateful that I live in a country where I have the freedom to believe what I wish; once upon the time not so long ago, we too were persecuted and executed if we did not follow the proscribed religion; thankfully we have moved on.

  2. In current times, unfortunately, it’s the Muslim nations alone who have these draconian laws.

    But, before they apply them, do any of these ‘authorities’ ever give a thought as to WHY it’s citizenry (some of them), becomes atheists? The reason for this is usually because of the behaviour and attitude of the people who call themselves Muslims.

    My own example is one. When I was still in high school which was also run by the community to which I used to belong, we used to have to attend religious classes whether we wanted to or not.

    This was fine till some of us started asking our Muallims questions about our beliefs (I was raised a shia), and the meaning of the Qur’an. We were told in no uncertain terms that we had no business asking questions about our beliefs and most of all if we tried to find out the meaning of the Holy Qur’an, we’d go insane! To add further to this we were given an example of somebody in our community who had supposedly lost his mind because of this, Astaghfirullah.

    Of course, I couldn’t accept this kind of blind adherence and one day made a comment in class (which consisted of muslims, christians and hindus who all were ‘believers’), that there was no God, Astaghfirullah. As was expected, the whole class went into an uproar and insisted that there was, but, couldn’t prove it to me and so I remained a near disbeliever till Allah had mercy on me and led me to the right path a few years later when I was in college, Alhamdulillah.

    Therefore, I believe that our children and families and friends should not be compelled to follow the faith of their fathers. Instead, their beliefs should be explained to them and their questions answered in a civilized and scholarly manner. We should also encourage others to find the truth without threats. Exactly what Ahmadiyyat does!

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