I have not been a Muslim since I was 16 and am currently 29.
I believe there are beliefs and values, including morals, that guide your behavior and how you treat people around you during your interactions. I know many who are religious but have skewed belief and value systems (by way of humanity), and I, therefore, choose to live by what I have learned and tested to be good for the world that is apart from religion.
I grew up in a relatively religious household, with my aunt, at one point of time, opening a Madrasah and my mum after that becoming an Ustazah. My parents have successfully completed their Haji and my dad is going for Umrah again soon.
Before I was old enough to understand religion, I already had doubts about lots of society’s rules, random questions as a child such as “Why can my dad and brothers walk around the house without a top on and I can’t?”, or “Why do I have to lie about what I like and don’t like (at this stage it was about why I did not like madrasah or the teachings, or why I could not spend time with boys alone even though they were my close friends)”.
At this point, I grew to slowly understand the difference between cultural and religious beliefs and practices. This progressed from “Why is it that my friends who are not Muslim but have hearts so pure, have to go to hell” to “Why do I have to be so uncomfortable with myself every single day, concealing my identity, especially to my loved ones”.
Being agnostic was part of my core identity, and I decided after 10 years, that I would rather risk being disowned than carrying on a life where I was superficial to who should be the closest people to me.
The trigger for me to pursue a better life was a loss of trust from an ex-partner. I was at that time (2016) living with that person in Japan, with a stable job with friends around, but although I had my fair share of down moments in my life,
I found myself devastated and broken – for the first time in my life I acknowledged to myself that I needed support and time to heal. Overnight, I decided to separate myself from that person, to quit smoking, and to tell my family the truth. My parents did not disown me, but I did go back to Singapore at the end, as I realized that I downplayed a lot of frustrations I had with the Japanese work culture and the society in general that prevents people from being able to develop deep and meaningful relationships. I thus moved back home with my family. It was interesting, even to myself, to note that I did not find any necessity to look for God at any point in my life.
That said, alas, all the while from two years ago that I thought my parents were slowly accepting me for who I am, I found out recently that they are back in denial, truly having believed that that period of my life was a phase. However, that does not bother me much – I have committed to being true to them and involving them in my life. The only thing that I can control on my end is the delivery of my intention by showing my love and (careful) communication. Even though I hope that the other party receives the message on their end as I intended, this is not my responsibility, although I hope one day that they will be open enough to have a meaningful discussion.
I have landed through an upbringing in my environment and the decisions in my life to where I am now, but I strongly commit to living a fulfilling life. If my experiences can help someone, I would love to share it. Thank you.