A friend of mine pointed me to an interesting weblog, Here in Glitner. From the “About” page:
Reflections from my life as a Muslim, perspectives on Islam in my true life as a non-Muslim. I was a Muslim woman, a Muslim wife, a Muslim mother, a Muslim sister. I wore hijab, abstained from pork, obeyed my husband, studied quran and sunnah, and avoided all forbidden and doubtful things as much as I could. And then, slowly, from the blip of one thought to a full-blown realization more than five years later, I emerged into my true life, into reality, and realized my atheism. As you will read, if you go back to the start, it took a long time – roughly two years, to sort out my lifestyle, the life I was living, my family, and my beliefs. This blog mixes in old journal entries from those times with my thoughts on Islam from the perspective of a kafir – an infidel.
The friend is an ex-Muslim as well, though they keep that information to themselves because of negative experiences. By some definitions I’m an “ex-Muslim,” insofar as I identified as a Muslim before the age of eight, at which point I realized I was basically what would be termed an “atheist” (I didn’t know that word at that point). But I never had a coherent supernatural world view. Though before the age of eight I could parrot the general cosmology imparted from Islam, my genuine understanding of the world was totally naturalistic. I had always had a deep interest in evolution and astronomy, and even when I wasn’t a self-conscious atheist God had no place in my model of the cosmos. Nor am I culturally Muslim, as my social network is almost exclusively non-Muslim (and mostly irreligious to boot). Though I can repeat suras I was taught as a child, I never grew up in a world where Islamic material civilization was prominent in any way. In other words, my lack of connection with my “ancestral religion” has had almost no psychic or social cost, and I do not have any personal history of rupture with a tradition which accompanies apostasy. My shedding of a Muslim identity as a child was plainly superficial, as I had never evinced a deep interest in religion, and generally dreaded the boredom of Islamic holidays.
That is why I am fascinated by the weblogs of both converts and apostates, though naturally I have more affinity with the latter. The psychological experiences are in a sense deeply alien to what I am familiar with. I suspect it is analogous to never having been drunk. The mental shock of going from a world filled with supernatural agents to one without, or vice versa, must be jarring. But from what I can tell most religious people take great solace in their personal beliefs, so losing such an anchor might be analogous to a hangover.