Muslim girl quietly leaves Islam and doffs hijab, lives double life in fear of parents

Her household was only “moderately religious,” and yet she still feels threatened enough to lead a double life. Apparently her parents are yet more Misunderstanders of the Religion of Peace. This girl has good reason to be afraid: Aqsa Parvez was murdered by her father for not wearing the hijab, and Rifqa Bary was slapped by hers for the same reason. Then there is Islam’s death penalty for apostates: Muhammad said, “If anyone changes his religion, kill him.” Some schools of Islamic jurisprudence, however, allow for the imprisonment of a female apostate until she recants her apostasy.

“IAmA 21 yr old Muslim girl who wears the headscarf but has led a double-life kept hidden from my family for the last 3 years,” by Undercover 2011 at, November 26 (thanks to Just Kaafir):

I am 21 years old and was bought up in a moderately religious Muslim family. My mother wears the burkha and is extremely religious. She is very spiritually connected to God and encourages the whole family to be more religious but she is not violent or forceful. My father is quite strict but he is more culturally inclined (Pakistani) than religiously.

I am the eldest child and have had to fight for pretty much every ounce of independence in my life that most Westerners would not have to worry about e.g. going to college, going to university. Once I started university, I was not allowed to live there. I had to endure a two hour commute (four hours altogether to travel there and then return on a GOOD traffic day) four days a week for three years.

No one at my university knows I am a Muslim. I remove my headscarf and change my clothes. I kept this up for three years and graduated with a first class honours degree in Medicine. At home, my parents have no idea that whilst at university; I have changed a lot. I’ve become more confident, better-read (obviously) and I have come to the conclusion that there is no God. When the holidays roll around, I do not see friends or go out. I’m not allowed to leave the house or even work outside of my small town (a ‘suburb’ of [BLANKBLANKBLANK] I guess you would call it in American terms!)

None of my friends (all are from university and live all over the country or outside the country) know my home address, home number or home situation. I’ve never once partied with them or done any of the normal student things because I have always made excuses. They have no idea. In their minds, I’m very well-read, very studious and hardworking and the last person on earth who would have a religious faith (mainly because I have become more and more hardline atheist over the last three years).

I’m planning on doing a PhD in [BLANKBLANKBLANK] but my family have no idea. They do not support me in my career ambitions and I am pretty sure their long-term view is that I will settle in my small town, allow myself to be coaxed into some marriage and work at the local Walmart. I plan to leave without telling them. I just had to share this somewhere.

Oh, and before any Muslims rebuke me or call me a disgrace – understand one thing. I made a consenting, informed choice to leave my religion. The fact of the matter is, my parents are Muslims and they use the name of Allah to keep me chained to them and to make me submit to their plans for my life. This is not what the religion preaches but this is how some people who mix up culture and religion go about these things and my parents are an example. They would never support me not wearing a hijab (head covering) or saying I don’t believe in God. It’s all or nothing for them. They also have never understood me or my educational aspirations or my career aspirations. I’ve grown up feeling incredibly isolated and alone and I do not blame Islam or Muslims for any of it. Religion is a card many people play in order to justify crap.

UPDATE 4: As people have been asking me to tell more stories, I made a blog – I will probably update that daily. I find it a more organised and coherent way of talking about my story and issues. Reddit is a bit confusing and often very repetitive!

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  1. says

    Read the comments on Reddit. Very heartfelt and supportive. How gut wrenching this must be, to love your family but to understand that if you want to live the way you want, you can’t be anywhere near them. And perhaps it’s true that her parents might not kill her, but living in England I’m betting there are plenty who would volunteer to do the job.

    I hope she makes it. There are too many Aqsa Parvez’ out there among Muslim girls.

  2. says

    IAmA 21 yr old Muslim girl, Congrats for leaving islam. I hope this gives inspiration to all other muslim girls to leave islam, leave islamic slavery and embrace freedom. Hopefully you will find a good job and a good man. But don’t look back or go back to that house; they will still want to cleanse their honor despite their sweet and conciliatory words. Don’t return unless they have all abandoned islam.

  3. says

    The fact of the matter is, my parents are Muslims and they use the name of Allah to keep me chained to them and to make me submit to their plans for my life. This is not what the religion preaches but this is how some people who mix up culture and religion go about these things and my parents are an example…..I do not blame Islam or Muslims for any of it. Religion is a card many people play in order to justify crap.

    Even though she wasn’t explicit about it, she seems to be from the school that all religions are (equally) bad. How the f$*& does she know what the religion preaches? What is Paki culture, if not vanilla Islam, w/ some rich dose of Bollywood thrown in? Observant Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Taoist girls like her do not have anywhere near the sort of problems that she has – particularly the ones living in the US.

    She assumes that her parents would have just married her off & had her work in some Walmart? I have news for you – they’d probably have married her off and it would have been up to her husband to determine whether he wanted her to have a full professional career, or be a breeding factory back home.

    I have nothing against her being an Atheist – as Hugh proved, Atheists – depending on which ones they are – are valuable allies in the war against Islam/Muslims. But she’s completely clueless if she thinks that ‘Religion’ i.e. any or all religions are justifications for crap, in her words. That’s the other problem w/ Muslims – even when they recognize the evil in Islam, they’ll embrace some other evil that is allied to islam and end up being a part of islam’s whitewash, which she either inadvertantly or willingly does in her article.

  4. says

    She is an amazing person to make this leap from such an oppressive background. Sometimes a soul needs to be completely self reliant, without dependency to gain strength and self realization. All of that is a spiritual journey; too bad Islam is the source of the oppression and fear rather than a path of genuine spiritual inspiration.

    Her mother sounds like a good, gentle person, so I am somewhat sad that this young woman has to lose that personal connection in order to live her own life. It is no wonder she feels alienated from God, or that there is no God, having to go through so much.

    I hope that she will remain safe and find love and happiness in life. Perhaps she will even find her own experience of God deep within her own heart. God bless her.

  5. says

    Allah hates self determination, especially if you leave him behind…Self determination and Islam cannot co-exist in the same time space, at the same time…Islam is self determination in reverse, or cancelled…No slave has self determination unless they are planning an escape…Allah/Islam is a heavy chain around the neck…Self determination breaks the chain and frees the slave…Allah really hates that…

  6. says

    I hope that the few details of her life she gives — her age, her 2-hour commute, her major in medicine, her Pakistani ancestry, her being the eldest child, etc. — are fictitious. If they are factual, she has given away a lot of details about herself, enough that a Moslem troll reading this site might think: “Hmm, that sounds just like Akbar’s daughter,” and bring this article to her parents’ attention. So, a word of advice to her: if your parents suggest that you all go on vacation back to Pakistan to meet the relatives, don’t go!

  7. says

    This young woman is smart, disciplined, well educated, and has chosen to lead a secretive double life over rebellion or confrontation. Best wishes on her journey, and hope she can reach out to others especially women.

  8. says

    Meanwhile @ U-Maryland;

    More than 100 students participated in this university’s first-ever Undercover as a Muslim Woman event, which invited students to wear a headscarf (also known as a hijab) for one day to understand what Muslim women who cover their hair experience on a day-to-day basis…

    Junior anthropology major Niloufar Jebelli, who no longer wears a hijab, provided the audience with another perspective as a woman who grew up in Iran, where the government forces women to cover up in public.

    Things get harsh if you didn’t wear it the right way, so that makes you not want to do it, and there’s still a part of me that doesn’t want to do it,” she said. “And it is beautiful, but when it’s not forced on you.

    Comments thread open.

  9. says

    One thing I like about stories like this is that they have the potential to encourage others, who are inclined in the same direction as this young women, to also leave Islam.

    One thing I don’t like about many stories like this: We have no verification that the writer is who she says she is.

    I was impressed by the number of people in the reddit comment section who, in response to this young woman’s story, also indicated that they too were ex-Muslims.

    Some people self-identifying as Muslims also commented supportively, indicating that they had no problem with this young woman’s apostasy.

    Overall, I was glad to see the amount of comments and thus the amount of attention this woman’s story received.

    Given Islam’s harsh penalties for apostasy, one wonders what percentage of “Muslims” really are believing Muslims, and what percentage have secretly abandoned Islam in favour of another religion or no religion.

    One objection that I have to this woman’s story is that she does not blame Islam for the predicament that she’s in. Her predicament is due to some Muslims’ fervent belief in and insistence on obedience and adherence to Islam and to carrying on the Islamic memes. No other religion today has a formal and harsh penalty for apostasy; only Islam has this. In addition, some Muslims believe they should take it upon themselves to punish or kill the apostate. If there were no Islam today, there would be no need to worry about being killed for apostasy today–least of all by one’s parents. It is Islam that states that Islam trumps family. I suspect that this young woman has not studied the texts and laws of Islam, hence her apparent attribution of the problem to “cultural” aspects–as if these are separate from Islam per se–and not to the “religion” proper.

  10. says

    Just in case this girl should stumble across this page sometime soon.

    Here is the website of ‘Hannah Shah’, apostate from Islam in the UK, which provides useful information – including where to go for practical help – for those who are contemplating what this girl is contemplating.

    Hannah Shah writes “I won’t forget the day I opened my wings to fly”.

    When Hannah left Islam, in the UK, she had to leave her family; her father on one occasion sent a hit squad to try to kill her.

    But right now she’s alive, she’s happily married to a nice English non-Muslim man, and she’s doing her best to help others who are where she once was, and who want ‘Out’.

    So: there is hope. Others have done it, dear lady; others have escaped; so can you. Go for it!

    Also: I don’t know if this closet apostate has read any books by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She wouldn’t be able to read them in her family’s home – unless perhaps she claimed she was reading them in order to be able to write an essay or letter refuting or denouncing them – but she might be able to find them in a library and read them there, or just duck into a bookshop.

    In Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book ‘The Caged Virgin’ there is an essay which lists, clearly and simply, all the things that a young woman – who has decided she wants to leave Islam and/ or needs to escape from family violence/ threat of forced marriage etc. – must do, in order to have a chance of a. getting clean away and b. surviving and thriving afterward.

    It’s chapter 13: “Ten Tips for Muslim Women Who Want To Leave”.

    It is very, very practical, down-to-earth stuff.

    There is advice about how to be safe, about money, about how to find somewhere to live, and how to make and keep non-Muslim friends who will be *real* friends.

    If she hasn’t already read it – and I doubt she has – I think our apostate lady should find it will help her map out an ‘escape plan’ that might actually work.

  11. says

    Those who post here are within their rights not to believe in a Supreme Being.

    That said, it is not helpful for them to disparage those of us who Do believe and have faith in the True God YAHWEH If one chooses not to believe in Him, they are within their rights to believe in whatever deity they choose.

    I am tired of the atheists on this site slagging and diminishing those who do have (non islamic) religious beliefs.

    You are just sowing unnecessary discord.

  12. says

    Good luck to you, 21 yr old Muslim girl.

    Be cautious and careful, keep yourself safe, and continue to explore your freedoms.

    You are a very brave young woman.

  13. says

    I think you’re being a trifle harsh on the young girl. She’s feeling her way forward. There are many ex-Muslims who have travelled the same road. You don’t reach your destination overnight.

    But the first steps have been taken, and now she has to figure out what to do with the rest of her life.

    Give her time. Give her space.

  14. says

    IP: “That’s the other problem w/ Muslims – even when they recognize the evil in Islam, they’ll embrace some other evil that is allied to islam and end up being a part of islam’s whitewash, ”

    You are jumping to a conclusion too quick. Judging by the other stuff in the article she made lot harder decisions, leaving Islam + dad + mum at least, she will make other sound decisions as and when the time comes. It may well be that atheism is a way for her.

    No matter what, she should completely leave her past behind her. She should start a new life without the previous baggage.

    She should never look back in this case.

  15. says

    All religions are equally as bad, and the fact that you cant control your own hate and bigotry in your comment prove this.

    Religions like christianity use oppression and fear to force you to submit to their rules and just because the consequences aren’t as bad doesn’t make it any less hateful. I personally know an ex-christian who when he decided to educate himself and realise that there isn’t such thing as god, all of his family and most of his friends shunned him and to this day they still will walk past him in the street like he is a stranger. You could argue that this is as bad as killing him as he a suffered a social death.
    Just a thought

  16. says

    ” all of his family and most of his friends shunned him and to this day they still will walk past him in the street like he is a stranger. You could argue that this is as bad as killing him as he a suffered a social death.”

    Well, Niel,

    I could also argue there is a universe of difference between not talking to someone, and killing them.

    We used to joke about Jewish parents who would “sit Shiva” (pray for the dead) for a son or daughter who married a non-Jew. Madlayne Murray O’Hare, the famous (or infamous) atheist, had a son who became a minister, and never talked to him.

    The people in question went on to live their lives as they chose.

    I don’t know anyone who went on to lead a happy life after being killed, or even an unhappy life.

    I kind of think you fired off your post without really thinking the matter through.

  17. says

    yeah, right. we got to stop those buddhists, jews, hindus, christians and jains from murdering apostates who leave buddhism, judaism, hinduism, christianity, jainism…(sarc on).

    this is false moral equivalency from someone who has never read the koran, hadiths, read the life of the ‘prophet’ muhammad.

    disengenuous argument typical of the left wing. they take the path of least resistance, intellectually speaking.

    huge difference between murdering/imprisoning. someone with state (shariah) sanctioned approval (like Pastor Yusef Nadharkhani) and having family disown you.

  18. says

    Atheism and socialism seems to have turned your brain to mush – much the same effect islam has.

    If you really think being socially shunned ( but able to breathe, think, eat, love) is *just as bad* as being *dead* there is no hope for you. You ended your meretricious little squib with ‘just a thought’ – you are clearly incapable of logical thought. Piss off back to whatever lefty rubbish blog you came from.

  19. says

    No, it is not “out of the frying pan into the fire” as you arrogantly claim. There is nothing wrong with her for rejecting your supernaturalist myths. Don’t project your own emotional “needs” on her — to your great dismay, I’m sure, she is probably much happier as an atheist than she would be trying to believe in society-approved religious fantasies her reason tells her are not true.

    If you are willing to accept her on her own terms, this is a young woman who deserves encouragement and support. She is in process of doing what the extraordinary Ayaan Hirsi Ali did, leave Islam and superstition and building an authentic life for herself.

  20. says

    Mortality is an empirically proven fact. Acknowledgment of the same is a threat to the belief of all who profess that immortality is not fanciful fiction (not completely loony).

    All moral codes are man made, get over it.

  21. says

    G-D-E : I don’t get your point. Are you trying to tell us wearing Islamic headScarf is A OK? Do you really believe in that kind of shady journalism?

    Over 100 participants. One Chinese girl felt fine. The rest of the comments were from MoSlums (Latif, Musafa or what have you). We know MoSlums endorse Islamic traditions – Headscarf for instance.

    How would your MoSlum girls feel, lets say, during a hot summers day wearing a bikini on a beautiful West Coast beach ? Millions of girls love that. Would the MoSlum girls try it out like the western girls tried to wear the Islamic head-gear? . If there is a comparison to be made then it should be made properly – like compare apples with apples

  22. says

    You said:

    ”I am tired of the atheists on this site slagging and diminishing those who do have (non islamic) religious beliefs.”

    Fair enough.

    Does this also apply to religious people slagging off atheists ? There are many, many delightful Christians who comment here – eg dumbledoresarmy, gravenimage and others, who *never* slag anyone off for religious beliefs or lack of them, but there are *also* some who *do* sneer at, and diminish those who are atheist or agnostic.

  23. says

    I’m not interested in finding a ‘good man.’ My interest is solely to live as part of this world, to work hard, earn my own money and to give back as much as I can in order to help others (girls and boys) leave situations like mine. I don’t want to depend on anyone, not state benefits, not a man – no one. Thank you for your kind words.