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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Ex-Muslim Movement – Dissension Or Reformation?

Ex-Muslim movement, as that is what it is known as, is a non-religious movement of free thinkers who dared to break open the confinement of Islam, has silently begun to make their presence felt across continents and the reality is that it is steeply pricking the edifice of Islam.

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By: M.R.Lalu

Religions across the globe have always been seen from two fronts. The first is to see them as principles codified for people by a divine will and therefore, not to be questioned. The second one is to view them as manmade caricatures of God or principles forcefully stamped on people by people. This view demands the need of a scientific analysis while it questions the authenticity of all religious beliefs. Both the views are gaining momentum and of course, the first one has a mammoth fan following with a large part of the world kneeling for the divine interventions in human progress. Religions, successfully manipulating their belief systems could bring about demographic changes across the globe. The influence that most of the religions could successfully embroider all over the world was the result of their aggression and indecorous invasion and contemptuous intellectual involvement. History may not often reveal the true story of persecution that most of the religions could spread their wings with. It is the second kind of view that brought creative changes in the thinking pattern of people. Those who remained imprisoned in the contrariness of principles concocted by religions proposed changes, suitably matching the demand of the time. Most of the religions underwent this change time and again. Call them a creative minority at least for their intellectual rebellion, questioning the faithfulness of the patriarchal hegemony in most of the religions. Coming out of the dungeons of superstition and the horror of radicalization, most of the silent rebellions are known to be happening inside the precincts of Islam. This is probably seen as an effect of its ineptitude to modernise the ideals that it followed from the medieval periods.

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Ex-Muslim movement, as that is what it is known as, is a non-religious movement of free thinkers who dared to break open the confinement of Islam, has silently begun to make their presence felt across continents and the reality is that it is steeply pricking the edifice of Islam. It began to surface as a western phenomenon but now, it is creeping into the deeply conservative countries with stringent laws against apostasy like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The cause of their worry is unfathomable as most of the Islamic countries realize it with a shudder, when the American Journal “The New Republic” reveals the rate of Muslim conversion to atheism in America and in most of the European countries. It doesn’t shy away from revealing the decline of numbers among the actual believers in the Islamic world. The number of convinced atheists and non-religious persons are growing rapidly who prefer to shed the garb of Islam without any remorse. For the Islamic world, leaving Islam can invite death punishment. At the same time, on a parallel track, Abrahamism, a new religion in the making should be seen as an appropriate intellectual churning taking place. The new religion is a combination of religious principles scrapped from all the three Abrahamic religions- Islam, Christianity and Judaism. This new invention evidently showcases the depression that the followers of Islam face due to its radicalized and rigid mannerisms. Encompassing the variety available in these three religions, with their common notion of being the descendents of one common prophet and by the vision of enhancing this new religion with Prophet Abraham as its revered spiritual source, some of the dissenters may be trying to put a milder version of the semitic religions for a new world.

Punishments spanning from stone pelting to beheading a dissenter of Islam are questioned and challenged by the Ex-Muslim movement. India, with a huge population of Muslims is also bracing with a minority of Ex-Muslims despite radicalization to the effect of the horrendous Udaipur barbarity is staring at its polity repugnantly.  Social Media could take an active role in bringing the aspirants to quit the mishmash and the complexity of the religion. Reports reveal that nearly one in four Muslims raised in the United States have left Islam with a sigh of relief of being a “Godless, Fearless Ex-Muslim.” The trend is catching pace in India too, especially in Kerala. An organisation has recently been formed to provide those who renounce Islam, a platform to express and gather fearlessly. “Ex-Muslims of Kerala” is an attempt by the educated Muslim youth, who thought to exit the religion and become free thinkers. It has declared January 9 as ‘Kerala Ex-Muslim Day’. It is a historic development as many members in the group are active in social media debates attracting more like-minded people to their fold. Kerala, with Islamic radicalization growing unimaginably voluminous in its Malabar region, has become a hotbed of Islamist activities which the state administration is purposefully silent about. Most of the members in the group face economic and social boycotts and sometimes receive violent reactions from the radicals. Excommunication of people who left Islam is normal in the community and thanks to democracy that apostasy is not punishable under the constitution. The movement in Kerala provides social, economic and legal support to the Ex-Muslims.

Islam is at a crossroads when it comes to match its ability to patch up with the requirement of a modern world. Retaining its medieval Semitic ideals through a parallel seminary education system has thoroughly shattered its aura as a ‘Religion of Peace’. Hammering of unscientific aphorisms on its younger generation has blatantly hampered the intellectual faculty of many young minds who aspired to climb the ladder of success through modern education platforms. Though it is not punishable by law, India’s legislature is yet to frame laws to protect those who come out of the dark caves of fanaticism. Stunning statistics also reveal the fact that there is a growing disgruntlement on religions which refuse to change with the change of times. Islam is seen to be facing a grave demographic shift in many countries including the Arab world. Why do many people prefer to quit their faith? Arif Hussain Theruvath, an Executive Member of the Ex-Muslim community in Kerala has the answer. He said that he chose to come out of Islam to safeguard his human rights, dignity and constitutional rights promised by the country. Liyakkath Ali, the President of the community says that his organisation has decided to move the court against atrocities committed in the name of religious traditions. The former chairman of the Shia Waqf Board, Wasim Rizvi has converted back to Hinduism and became Jitendra Narayan Singh Tyagi. Famous Malayali film director Ali Akbar became Ramasimhan. India is witnessing a sharp radicalization among the followers of the religion and the recent atrocious killings in the name of faith should be seen as its proof; and the dissension, or a silent rebellion for reformation, is emerging as a bitter reality in Islam. Globally, the conflict among the Islamic countries is real when they fight each other overtly or covertly for an upper hand over the Islamic World. The question is, whether the Ex-Muslim movement across the globe would become a game changer forcing the radicals to bend for reformation, transforming the structure of the religion for world peace, in principle and practice.

(The author is a freelance journalist/social worker. He can be reached at mrlalu30@gmail.com)

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