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Allah Changes Not the Condition of a People Until They Change That Which Is in Their Hearts

Atheists in the Arab World - Allah Changes Not the Condition of a People Until They Change That Which Is in Their Hearts
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Muslim discourse on atheists remains controversial. It is not always the case that Muslims tolerate atheists. There is discrimination and elimination exercised against those who choose to live without a belief. The exclusion of and discrimination against atheists don’t only come from extremist religious authorities, but also from friends and relatives, who might be considered moderate mainstream believers.

In the 13th Chapter in Quran – Al-Raad (The Thunder), Allah said to Muslims: “Allah changes not the condition of a people until they change that which is in their hearts.”

When reading this and then looking at Muslims politics on other beliefs, we have to wonder where it all went wrong. Was it the source or the implementation?

In the following are excerpts from an interview with an ex-Muslim atheist in Germany, who was outcast and shunned by his friends for expressing his atheism.

“It is not shocking for me that one of my best friends stopped talking to me because of my opinion,” said an atheist and ex-Muslim to MPC Journal, who refused to reveal his name for safety reasons. “My views are based on my logical thinking.”

“No one has the right to judge me because I believe or refuse to believe in something from this religion or that,” he added. “. No one has the right to oppress me, harm me or offend me based on what I believe.”

“If we had dealt with religion with more respect to the religion itself and to the god of that religion, we would have understood religion through a prettier frame, A more tolerant one.”

“As an atheist and ex-Muslim, I don’t see the words of god reflect in believers,” he said referring to the Quran verse stated in the title.


The “Islamic history” is full of No’s to freedoms. Vying for power, religious elites have created mechanisms to enforce religious prohibitions and to excessively restrain freedoms.

Such policies of prohibition contributed to killing critical minds and murdering the faculties of thinking and criticism among younger generations.

The only one and right opinion is the one comes from the all-knowing Islamic clerics. Any disagreement or contradiction with the religious opinion is infidelity and atheism. Several freethinkers and creative individuals were sentenced to death because of their ideas.

Khomeini issued a death fatwa in 1989 against Salman Rushdie for a fictional novel – The Satanic Verses. A member of an Islamist group –Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiyya– assassinated the prominent Egyptian professor and human rights activists Faraj Foda in 1992 for his free thought. Another Egyptian and prominent professor Nasr Abu Zayd suffered a religious persecution for his ideas on Islamic history and Quran hermeneutics. The great novelist, writer and a winner of Nobel Prize for literature Naguib Mahfouz, 82 then, was attacked in 1994 and stabbed in the neck by extremists because of his fictional novel – Children of Gebelawi.

While examples of fundamentalism against free thought are too many and beyond the scope of this article, these few examples demonstrate that belief doesn’t accept different opinion or reading. Should this statement be true, it must contradict the title of this article, which is drawn directly from Quran. Should it be false, the problem lies in the implementation of religious precepts.

Those destined to be born inside the tribe, should coercively yield to the laws of that tribe. As there are people make fatwas against free thinkers, there are those who carry out these unjustifiable fatwas.

Extremists, Islamists or others, accept or ostracize whom they want as if the world is theirs. They have given themselves the authority to be in charge of purifying the world from the other dissenting opinion no matter what it takes.

While asking for exercising their freedoms completely, they rob others’ freedoms. Many prominent Islamic clerics and scholars in the Middle East, and unfortunately in other parts of the world, qualify as examples for such controversy: Mohammad Al-Oraifi, Youssef Al-Qaradawi, Tareq Suwaidan, Mohammad Ibn Baz, Mohammad Hassan, Adnan Aroor and others.

Choosing one’s belief and expressing one’s thought should be far from accusation. They shouldn’t be accusations unless we still live the mind of the tribe, in which ancestry and the only one god are above everything else.

It is very difficult for a Muslim-born person to explicitly declare his/her secular views or atheism. An ex-Muslim atheist fears social exclusion and losing his/her beloved ones.

Hakim Khatib

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