I was fortunate enough to be at the first ever Southern California meetup. The plan was to meet for lunch, but we all left after dinner and dessert. Nobody could bear to part with the group. It was one of the best days ever.
A Syrian, a Lebanese, a Pakistani, a Saudi, and a Bengali walk into a gastropub. This isn’t a joke, it’s an ex-Muslim meetup. ? I feel so happy and at home.
It felt so freeing to be able to be myself, Islam didn’t allow me that luxury. It makes me smile to think of the first meetup I went to. I was all abuzz in my head, looking around in disbelief at all these like minded people who all looked at ease and relaxed. We all laughed so hard that night.
Before joining EXMNA I would have given my right arm to meet someone like me. Now i get to meet people who think like me everyday!
I genuinely enjoyed every single event I attended. I loved the people I met there. It was exciting to meet other people such as myself. I joined this group during a time in my life when I really needed acceptance, and to know I’m not alone. The transition was tough, but I made it through.
I feel like I’ve reached a point in my life where I no longer think about my ex-Islam. I’m just…alive, as a human. I’d like to thank everyone in this group for being so warm and accepting. I thank everyone for making me like myself and accept myself for who I am. I couldn’t have done it without any of you.
I just want to state how awesome everyone here is, and how grateful I am for this community. Thanks to each and every one of you for sharing such intimate parts of your lives here. It’s motivating, inspiring, and educational. I love hearing all of your stories, struggles, and everything you’ve learned along the way. I feel like this is the only place where I can openly be myself.
It has been a bit over 2 months since I have joined EXMNA and I’ve had wonderful interactions with numerous people. I could not have anticipated having the opportunity to be free to just be myself while building deep personal connections with people who understand my thinking.
Growing up biracial, I never really belonged anywhere. Both communities, including members of my own family, made sure I knew that I didn’t belong to them using tactics ranging from blatant racism to run of the mill microaggressions. Members of my white family wave around confederate flags while members of my brown family discuss how white people are inherently immoral.
I became extremely closed off to everyone because of my lack of community. I isolated myself to protect myself from the communities I supposedly belonged to. I didn’t tell people anything about myself.
I still don’t really tell people much about me, but [with those from EXMNA] I was able to share details without fear, shame, or guilt. I told my story without the little lies that come so easily to me. I didn’t worry that it would be used against me later or others would judge me for it.
For the first time in my life, I feel I belong to a community. I’m no longer defined by the split between two communities who don’t even want me to begin with. To belong is such an unfamiliar, overwhelming, and amazing feeling which I never expected to have.
There is another Hiba in EXMNA ? she’s *wonderful* and from Aleppo and I asked what she misses most, when she remembers the 7alab (Aleppo) before the war (as 7alab today is a ruin and graveyard <\3), what she misses the most. She said, first, in Arabic, that you come to even miss the smell of trash. I know this feeling. Then she said that, strangely, she misses the smell of jasmine in courtyards mixed with rotting compost. I know this too. I feel the same about the sea-salt-and-trash smell of the slums of Beirut I know best. And I pulled out the little vial of essence of jasmine from Lebanon that I keep in my purse and anointed her wrist with the oil. I want to cry but also…happy for knowing Hiba here, in all her heartbreak akin to mine..
It felt like I was adopted my whole life and finally got to meet my real family
I thought I was done with Islam many years ago. But I realized after joining EXMNA how I really had so much to say, to share and frankly, to do (counter-dawah).
Keeping that bottled up inside has weighed on my psyche and I feel, held me back from taking more decisive actions in life sooner and with more clarity and conviction.
Now that I have the wind at my back (you guys), I’m ready to do my part, to change the world. Thank you EXMNA! Much love.
So, can I just be all mushy and sentimental for a moment? I JUST LOVE YOU GUYS ? I’m so happy to be part of this community and I am so grateful to Muhammad Syed and Sarah Haider for starting this and you’re all my peeps and I want to hug you all!!!!
It’s so nice to have all the love in this community. It’s so important and it’s going to be the only thing that carries us when we’re going through getting disowned or whatever other bullshit comes our way… even if we don’t personally talk much, I’m glad we’re all here for each other and I appreciate all of you.
One year ago today I was lucky enough to have become a member of EXMNA. It is a privilege to be a part of this group and to have come to know the incredible people who make it up.
I had thought that I had left Islam long ago and I was done with it. I was wrong, being here has been cathartic and has given me something I didn’t even know I needed. It has been a pleasure talking with you guys. The sense of community here, even though we are so widespread, is comforting. It is good to know there a place I can go for support and speak to people who have had similar experiences.
I have learned so much since joining and look forward to more.
Thanks to all of you and EXMNA.