by Khaled Hammad
Khaled’s fascinating story is serialized on this site every Thursday. You can read it here:
Breaking free from Islam Between Halal and Haram
A Journey Through Hell Fire
Chapter 8: “An end of a journey and a beginning to another”
When I was at university, I never wanted to or thought I would see Ahmed again. In fact, due to a severe case of impostor syndrome, with which I STILL suffer, I never thought I would make it to becoming a professional artist; ‘Who is going to pay you money to sing and play music?’ I used to ask myself. In fact, I am writing these words with the belief that no one will be reading them. Islamic atheism remains uncommon.
‘Well, I made it in the music industry. Here I am in a studio for a paid performance’, and while I was having these thoughts, contemplating my achievement, Here comes the man himself, Ahmed Saleh, in front of me all of a sudden. Happily surprised, he gave me a very warm greeting. Why not? That is my dear old friend who told me once, ‘You will be like me one day.’ Up to him. It was just a matter of time until my slow thinking worked it out. Of course, he never called me a slow thinker; quite the contrary, in fact, when I talk to him now with gratitude for being the person who has affected me in my journey, he always says, ‘You would have worked it out, Khaled.’ Ahmed had no animosity toward me. Well, at least he was not involved in a conversation about killing me like I had been. Ahmed would not kill anything. In fact, Ahmed was the first vegetarian I had ever met. He loved life, and he respected all beings. We started chatting, and I was warm to him as well. After some small talk, Ahmed said, ‘I am here just to speak with the music engineer, but I need to speak to you. I have work for you.’ He gave me the address of the studio he wanted me at, then spoke with the engineer and went.
Starting to Find the Truth
Working as a musician and singer appealed to me. I was happy to accept any job. I did not find dealing with Ahmed for work an issue. I was more mature; I had two jobs, and I had been exposed to the broader world. I just accepted that he was different, and he respected my unwillingness to talk about Islam. Ahmed’s role in my journey from Islam to “Haram” did not come to a complete halt. We will hear about him again in a few chapters when I became hungry for sources of knowledge about Islam, trying to find the truth. But for now, we will park that bus and travel by a different means of transport.
England and the Beginning of a Journey Through Hellfire
In the year 2000, about four years after that studio meeting with Ahmed, I boarded an aeroplane for the first time in my life to come to the land I had always dreamt of emigrating to, the U.K. Most of my friends aspired to emigrate to the United States, but the American dream never appealed to me. Although I would have gone to America if it had been the only option to get a life in a Western country. America seemed too intimidating to me for various reasons. The U.K. appeared to have a more conservative society. I felt a familiarity with its culture as I had taken English courses at the British Council in Cairo. All the teachers there had to be British. Plus, I have a relative who emigrated to England in the 1960s and who offered to look after me until I could sustain a living by myself. Without going into detail about the exciting time I spent in my first two years in the U.K., the beginning of my journey through hellfire started in 2002 when I got connected to the internet.
[To Be Continued.]