Sharing Experience in raising children as an ex-muslim

Many have asked us “What do you all do in the group. Do you have meetups and such?”

Yes, we do. We try to meet up as often as possible after all we are a support group. Occasionally we organize talk for our group members. We had just recently for the public. In May 2019 , we had a sharing session entitled “Sharing of Experience in raising children as Ex-Muslim”

This is when ex Muslim parents come together and share their challenges in raising their children. I will post gradually some of the stories shared by these parents and how they overcome these challenges.

Parent 1: Malay [ Atheist ] married to an Indian practising Hindu.

I exposed my daughter to all the different religions. I brought her several times to Novena Church, Buddhists, and the Chinese temple. We sat there quietly and observed how they did their worshipping and later at home talked about it.

When my brother got married, had his Akad nikah in the mosque, we went there too. Both of us were so excited, as we put on our “baju kurung” and our “tudung”, and made our way into the mosque. For me, it’s like walking into the past, reminiscing of how I once used to attend religious classes and the talks in the mosque. I would always try to sit right in front because I do not want to miss anything. That was many years ago. Do I miss it?.

No, to me it belonged in the past and that is where it will remain, but for my daughter, it’s something new. With our tudung, we sat together with our relatives & friends observing the Akad Nikah. I could see my daughter looking around. She was fascinated with a small group of people praying at a little corner and the simplicity of the mosque inner surrounding as compared to the Hindu temple she’s so familiar with. That night we talked about the whole experience.

She asked a lot of questions and I tried to answer her as much as I know.

Then she asked “why do you move away from the religion?” and I told her. Even though I’ve moved away from the religion of my birth, I still maintain contact with my siblings. I will visit my relatives during Hari Raya together with them and my daughter will join in too in these visits. I used that moment to meet up with my cousins and relatives.

I never try to influence my daughter’s spiritual upbringing. Heaven and hell do not exist in our conversation especially when we talk about doing good to another person. I told her, you should always try to help another who is in trouble, because its the right thing to do. It’s about seeing another as yourself.

If you do not want others to treat you badly, then don’t do it to another.

She came back one day, looking very confused after hanging out with her cousin [ who is a Muslim ].

She asked me “what is halal?” And I explained to her. Apparently, they went out for lunch and she’s having a hard time understanding why her cousin cannot eat the Chinese chicken rice. Her cousin keeps on saying that it’s not halal.

My way of approach is to expose her to all and talk about it. I encouraged her to ask questions no matter how sensitive it may be.

Over the years we talked about sex, about LBGT, about same-sex marriage, about religion and theories on the origin of life.

I asked my husband once “what happens if our daughter falls in love with a Muslim guy and she wants to convert. How will you react?”

Such a question is too much to ask of him now. He doesn’t even want to think about it. But for me, I am open. My daughter must know what she is into. I will not stop her. That is why I told her what she needs to know. Why I left the faith. But if she came back to us and say “I’ve made a mistake, and I want to renounce Islam”.

She should be able to do so. I will make sure of that. Even if I am not alive, somebody will be there to help her out.

When its time for her to collect her IC, the lady at the counter asked “Your religion?”. She looked at me, and I told her “it’s your choice”. She put it on the paper “Free Thinker”.

I was so proud of her.

Parent 2: Conversation with Ebramshah H. D. [ EB ]

[EB] Well I always emphasize to my kids to always help people in any way they can daily…. be kind to animals, & never judge others…..Eat everything that u like & do not care about other opinions …. just do you… n let them do them… I enforce this on a daily basis until its second nature

[CEMSG] Spiritual aspect?

[EB] There is no spiritual stuff in my household

[CEMSG ] Religious?

[EB] Nothing

[CEMSG ] How about relatives or friends.. they do not pressure ur children? kenapa tak sembahyang.. tak puasa?

[EB] We don’t do that. Will be my kids’ answers. Before they scared to answer (years ago). But now very berani to be very blunt. My kids bring bacon sandwiches and tell the Malay students sorry can’t share with u. It’s pork

[CEMSG ] they must be so shocked?

[EB] I train them hard, and it’s paying off. Took years For them to very confidently. If only all ex Muslim atheists do this. We will have non-Muslim Malays more open out thereBut ramai takut kena bilis. If like that sampai kiamat pun tak kan maju. So I just do my part for the ex Muslim atheist

[CEMSG ] How do they react?

[EB ] Technically in my kids’ school All the Malays know that my kids are pork eating people …. 😂😂And their reason “my parents don’t practice Islam”They are non-believers. Then the rest is how they react

[CEMSG] I can imagine

[EB] Sometimes I do have feedback from my kids Especially ….

[CEMSG] and what are the feedback

[EB] During ramadhan. My daughter will counter “Mana tudung? Dah sembahyang?”

[CEMSG] and?

[EB] Kenapa tak go study madrasah if u cant wear tudung in government school This is my daughter’s rebuttal wen Malay students ask stupid questions. It will shut then off. Now, all Don’t dare disturb my kids. My 2 daughters are sec 3 n sec 4 already. So they now can handle themselves with all these hypocrites.I always ask them at dinner time. How their day at school isand what they say? Nowadays nothing lah. During early sec days yes Kids heran why they are “different” That’s when I start packing pork sandwiches for them.

[CEMSG] I can imagine

[EB] Usually bacon n ham. So they can send a message. Now its a norm. Once they are used to it, it becomes a norm. Until the Malays can ask them if they can share tak? Hoping it’s halal. Then my daughter will answer sometimes “ok today can cornbeef” but not sure halal or not. My first daughter favourite quote now is turkey bacon aint bacon.

Parent 3: IZ

[IZ] I am not expecting this…My 12 years old daughter just came to me and say ‘Dad, I need to talk to you about religion’ I was shocked initially.. But I remained composed.. I ask her what is it? She says she doesn’t believe in religion although she still believes there’s a creator, She is expecting me to bash her and scold her for reading and believing what she read on the internet…

My answer to her, I am accepting you no matter what your belief is (I did not disclose my stand on Islam) but please for the moment keep it to yourself first…I don’t know how my wife will react …Then she talks about science to me, telling me there is no science in the Quran, all the things in the Quran had been explained by the scientist with proven facts and theories..but not the Quran…

She got pissed off during one of her Madrasah lessons when she asks her ustazah that all the while the Muslims are following the religion without even asking whether the rituals really came from God or the prophet invented it.

The Ustazah could not answer her… That’s why she came to me…I think I need to start to teach her the correct thing…She’s having PSLE this year. I am telling her to concentrate on her studies and will discuss this matter in depth after the exams.Her reply:— I can’t wait for 5th October (last day of PSLE – I think….) I will come back to you dad!!!

OMG…my daughter (youngest) is only 12years old. I will teach her how to argue with her Ustazah, I will be proud of the Madrasah kicks her least nobody going to blame me for taking her out…I’ve got no issue with this, I believe everybody had the freedom of choice and that includes my family.I am surrounded by Muslims all the while..and managed to “take care of them*…for me in order to be critical of the religion…you must learn what the religion is teaching… And its the onus on my part to prove the teaching is wrong.

[CEMSG] How is she handling it?

[IZ] And I should say she is thinking more of a non-muslim. I am advising my daughter just to remain normal. During fasting month…she did not fast. I told my wife…just respect her decision as long as she is obedient to the family.

Why I’m out and loud – Ex-Muslim perspective on Islamism in Singapore.

It’s no longer a secret now that I’m an official Murtad (apostate), with papers but what perplexes many people is why I’m so loud about my apostasy and dedication about smashing the taboo of apostasy in Singapore. The short answer is, Islamism is on the rise here, it might not be as extreme as the cases we’ve seen in Europe but there is a visible push for a more Islamic Malay community here whereby the Malay identity is interchangeable with the word Muslim. Soon enough, people like myself will be without an ethnicity due to the constitution and it’s vague description on what a “Malay” is. We are seeing the death of the Malay culture in favour of a more Islamic one.

To give a recent example on why this is a concern to me, I recently sent my mother off the airport for her holiday trip, of all her friends that came to see her off, only 1 and my auntie reciprocated my offer to Salam (shake hands), this is odd to me because being raised Malay I was taught that salam is a sign of respect but apparently now because everyone wants to be so Islamic, shaking hands with unrelated male individuals is not permissible. Sure all of them wore the tudung but I never saw this as a problem as older Malay women tend to pick up this habit, mainly because of hair issues.

But then during Hari Raya celebrations, most of my female cousins around 20 – 35, were wearing their tudungs as well, again a trend that I found odd. The Baju Raya for Malay women has always been something that is modest looking and growing up the tudung was not a big part of this costume with the younger generation until now.

There are so many other examples of how the Malay culture and traditions are being replaced by Islamic ones, another one is in the language. I’m sure by now you’ve noticed me using Tudung instead of Hijab and Hari Raya instead of Eid, other Malay words being replaced by their Arabic counterpart, Sembayang (Pray) – Soalat and Buka Puasa (break fast) – Iftar.

I’ve also been told many times that the word “Murtad” and “Ex-Muslim” is uncomfortable for Muslims and many a times told to keep this fact to myself and not let it out to preserve family honour. Which to be honest, actually makes me want to be more in your face about my apostasy. My existence (and the existence of other ex-Muslims) supersedes your feelings, why? Because it’s not healthy for us to continue living in the closet and leading a double life. This is the kind of thing that slowly but surely destroys a person psychologically especially when they cannot be honest with those they love.

For example, I lost my father before I could come out in the open with my apostasy and to this day it still tears me up inside because I will never know if he can accept me for who I am.

Back to the original question, why am I so loud about my advocacy for Ex-Muslim apostates in Singapore and so vehement against the Islamisation of the Malay community? To summarize, it’s because I want those of us who have left the faith to be able to still remain with and have good relations with our families, this is simply not possible if the Malay community continues to turn it’s back on it’s cultures and traditions to adopt an idealized arabized version of Islam which treats apostates like we’re outcasts and dangerous people to the Ummah who will lead your faithful children away from the path of Islam, and even if we do talk about the difficult topic that makes your children question the path you’ve laid out for them, is it no their choice to make for themselves?

This is why at Council of Ex-Muslims of Singapore, our primary goal is to preserve the family unit by smashing the taboo of apostasy, so apostates no longer have to lead double lives worried that their families will find out and disown them and Muslims here need to stop fetishizing this whimsical arabic gold standard of Islam and put their families first and show support to their family members who have chosen to leave the faith from the negative attitudes that is sure to follow from this revelation.

Riz Rashid
CEMSG – Contributor

Unspoken Social Stigma and the lip service to Muslim Convert

A non Muslim individual marries a Muslim individual, the media picks up on the story and everyone celebrates it as a symbol of tolerance and diversity, scenes like these have been repeated time and time again ad nausuem but what if I told you, within the Muslim community this is not such a big deal, well aside from getting a plus one into the fold of Islam which is always a cause for celebration as it pushes the narrative that “Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world” and from a young age many Muslims are taught there is great rewards in the afterlife if they convince others to convert, might just be my particular madrasa (religious school).

Stories like these repeating over and over again in an attempt to show off inclusiveness within the Muslim community, because we’ve never had a problem where converts are treated differently, in fact the opposite, they’re revered.

Now imagine a Muslim and Non Muslim marries but the Muslim chooses to convert to the faith of the Non Muslim, or even chooses to allow their Non Muslim partner to retain whatever faith (or lack of), how well do you think this would fly? I would say not very well. I’m not married, I’m still living the single life however I remember the start of my sister’s relationship when at the time she was dating and eventually married to a European man. I remember the uproar that my extended family made regarding them wanting to get married about how he’s not a Muslim. So eventually he caved and did the conversion to get his Muslim papers and while they had a civil union in his home country, they had another here fully Islamized. Thing is, despite being Muslim on paper he’s not a Muslim, just like how I was Muslim on paper until the last 3 years.

So why does the media continue to push the narrative that the Muslim community is one that is so inclusive that we can look beyond race of a person that infact it’s the majority who are intolerant and racist because when a friend says “I’m getting married to a Muslim so I’m converting to Islam” and we act concerned about it, somehow this is intolerance? It’s lip service to make themselves feel good about virtue signalling and defending a “helpless minority” by throwing those who are actually vulnerable within said community under the bus and preserving the status quo that is to be expected.

A non Muslim has to convert to Islam to marry a Muslim.

This expectation needs to end because what we are teaching Muslims, from a young age, is that love is conditional, “If you love me sayang, you will abandon your heathen ways and convert to Islam” and that is not a good message to spread. Love is unconditional regardless of what faith your partner chooses to believe in or not, if you loved them you would not be demanding them to change faiths, this is what actual inclusiveness and tolerance looks like, something that is lacking within the Muslim Community because of all the conversion marriages and how the media continues to propagate this lip service towards converts.

For the record, I have nothing against Muslim converts, I think it’s great you found a peace of mind in a religion that I chose to leave because it does not align with my life’s philosophy. More power to you to practice freedom of religion and I’m sure you would agree with me too that those who chose to leave should have the freedom to leave.

I don’t like paint things with too broad of a brush, there probably are many Muslim families out there who are okay with their Muslim relative marrying a Non Muslim and that Non Muslim doesn’t convert however with the recent push towards a more Arabized Islam in Singapore whereby being a Muslim is the pinnacle of your identity, I would argue that ostracization of non conversion married couple is much more common an incident these days and this vanity of virtue signalling all in an attempt to make oneself feel good about helping out vulnerable minorities in a world rife with “islamophobia” is only enforcing the taboo of apostasy because it is not letting the Muslim community look at themselves with a critical lens and therefore doing more harm to the ones who are vulnerable within this community.

Riz Rashid
CEMSG – Contributor