You are currently viewing Breaking free from Islam Between Halal and Haram: Part 2

Breaking free from Islam Between Halal and Haram: Part 2

by Khaled Hammad

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Perhaps it is more relevant to set the scene for the reader by addressing the atmosphere in Egypt before the Islamic radicalism era we are witnessing in the Middle East at this moment.

The uniqueness of the time in which I grew up lies in witnessing a turning point in the Middle East with radical Islam. The era of former Egyptian president Jamal Abd El Nasser, mostly known for his involvement in the “Suez crisis”, saw growing tensions between the Egyptian president and King Saud, the Saudi King then, which resulted in the Kingdom investing heavily in nurturing the Muslim Brotherhood, Nasser’s strategic enemy. They were welcome guests in Saudi Arabia, and were encouraged to spread their teachings, beliefs and their take on Islam. In other words, radicalising the Middle East through Wahabi teachings which is a fundamentalist movement that played a major part in establishing the Saudi Kingdom as we knew it before the ruling of the current regime led by Prince Mohammed Ben Salman.

When I was growing up during the 70s, Egyptian society was relatively liberal; there was no hijab, for example. Alcohol was part of wedding celebrations, a bit hidden from view, but it was there. Generally, there was no sign of Radical Islam in the streets of Cairo, where I was born and where I grew up.

In the 80s, something quite interesting started to happen. The Saudi Kingdom’s seeds had started manifesting in very fruitful trees for them. The hijab started to be a fashion. Alcohol started to be frowned upon; mosques became more populated with Egyptians who wanted to find out more about Islam and who were willing to be more devout. More importantly, Muslim religious leaders’ cassette tapes were being sold outside high-profile mosques everywhere. These tapes formed our religious ideology and beliefs in Egypt at those times. They were enjoyable, informative, and fun to listen to, but the element of radical Islam had started to be a very noticeable theme.

By the time I was in my last year at secondary school, I was becoming more and more radicalized. I aspired to become one of those religious stars with cassette tapes that guide young Muslims and lead them to the Big Prize afterlife, Paradise. I was part of the Muslim society at the school, reading a few verses of the Quran or a holy speech in the morning live broadcast to the whole school, and I gave weekly lessons in the school’s mosque. My activities outside the school were not any less active; I was a regular mosque prayer five times a day, enjoyed calling for prayers in the local mosque and became known in my family and within the neighbourhood by being a committed Muslim.

Leaving the “boys only” school environment to the university and mixing with the opposite sex was peculiar. Nonetheless, I immersed myself in the whole experience. In that, I started to neglect my beloved religion. I indulged in an exciting new university life, music festivals, alcohol, female friends, romantic love stories with females and aspiring to have sexual experiences, which I could not fully achieve as this is not an easy thing to happen in a Muslim society. But despite all of that “decadence”, God was there. I was still a Muslim. I am not praying, not committed, but I am still a Muslim, very sure that God will forgive me anyway because of the mere fact that I am a Muslim.

What happened next was something I would never have thought of; the beginning of the Journey through hellfire was just about to start when I was in my second year at the University.

 [To be continued]


This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. challenger72

    Hi Rkleon, Firstly, thank you for your comment and kind encouragement. The story about Mumtaz is compelling. Seven hours of driving in the desert is a long and challenging journey. I agree with everything you have said. Morals come from within. No doubt you will meet great Muslims, and I have many stories as well about great Muslims and Coptics from my experience back home in Egypt. Great insight, and thank you for sharing.

  2. rkleon

    Reading your excellent story of extricating yourself from Islam, I am reminded that a genuine good person does not need a religion to guide them. I worked for the Pakistani Railways installing Microwave Communications and met many wonderful, kind, helpful, friendly people. Being deep in the desert in Baluchistan I let my small team of 6 go home for the weekend to celebrate Eid. Being alone I was sitting on the raised steps pondering the coming work when I saw a dust cloud in the distance. This was in Baluchistan and the Baluchi’s are a known for their aggression. I packed my books and prepared to move indoors behind a big steel door. As the dust cloud got nearer I saw that it was our own truck. Mumtaz was driving. He had a round stack of 6 small tins. He said that when his wife heard about me being alone at Eid she cooked me food and insisted that Mumtaz took it to me a sat with me whilst I ate it.
    I was flabbergasted at her generosity. What I have not yet mentioned is that Mumtaz lived 7 hours drive away and came on unmarked desert roads. After we ate we embraced and he drove the 7 hours home. Such kindness made me realise that decency and consideration comes from within not some invisible deity who supposedly speaks through a man chosen to be his spokesman. I learned..There is ONE race on earth. The Human Race. No matter what colour or creed we are, we are either GOOD or BAD. Alas Religion can send us either way.

  3. rkleon

    I do admire your stance against radicalisation. It is the most difficult belief to be rid of.
    Just look(if you can) at the solid belief many western kids have of Father Christmas.
    All of them shed this harmless indoctrination in their early years and it is considered great fun and excitement.
    I have not been to Saudi, but I did meet a Saudi here in the west. He gave me his business card.
    He worked for the Saudi Bank and provided funds for Muslims who wanted to build a Mosque in the West.
    I asked him how many Churches there were in Saudi, but he didn’t have the figures at hand. (Ho Ho Ho)

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