Mideast Youth has an interview with a Kuwaiti atheist, Sara Sultan.
The interview is conducted by a Muslim on the basis that “Young atheists in the Arab world are extremely frowned upon and thus hardly ever given a voice, and if we really want to represent all kinds of people then we should include the voices of those we disagree with as well. ”
Likewise, Sara’s reason for being inteviewed is her belief that she has a right to express her opinions and has no fear from doing so. “People try to bully us into believing things… into being part of a “larger mass.” They kick us into buying anything from political opinions to religious beliefs. I refuse to be a product of such attempts at misleading us. They can call me what they want, at the end of the day I’m just an independent woman with a firm opinion.”
She distinguishes between Ex-Muslims and Aran atheists:
“Those who dislike Islam are often agnostic, not atheist. Few convert to other religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism and the Baha’i Faith. Arab atheists should not be lumped with other ex-Muslim Arabs who embrace other religions. We do not have anything in common, especially not contempt for Islam. I turned my back on religion because the lengthy study of religions and their respective histories is what made me realize that atheism is the only right path for me. It has nothing to do with Islam itself or me being a former Muslim Kuwaiti. I would have arrived to the same conclusion if I was a former member of any other faith.”
She retains a level of respect and recognises some of the good individuals within religion:
“I try my best not to generalise when it comes to religious groups. All religions are diverse and have worldwide followers that interpret religious texts in very different ways. People are responsible for their own behavior. I know many Muslims who are extremely religious and yet they are very open minded and understanding as to why some of us reject religion in and of itself. Why should I disrespect these good people by ignoring they exist and complaining that only mullah extremists are the appropriate representatives of Islam? Where I live, many young Muslims are actively rising against religious extremism and are trying to represent what is good about their faith. I appreciate their struggles, I don’t ever discourage them by claiming that they’d only be right or successful if they reject Islam altogether and embrace a new philosophy. It’s not in my place to do that.”
And although she thinks they are “completely misled and wrong” she does not impose her views on others: “That would be a very hypocritical thing for me to do since I’m the way I am mostly because I am anti-collectivism and I hate people who bully others into believing certain things or forcing them to live life a certain way. Like I said earlier, people are responsible for their own behavior and how they choose to live their life is none of my business just like my personal beliefs is none of theirs. The only thing I would encourage others to do is to think for themselves, to be free thinkers no matter how strict their societies are, to have educated and well-thought out opinions. It’s okay if that means you have to stand out from the crowd. And if some people independently chose their faith and strongly believe in it, all power to them. It’s still admirable and respectful as long as they don’t shove their beliefs in our faces and make us suffer the unnecessary consequences when we refuse to buy into their myths.”