October's talk - Aliyah Saleem and Faith to Faithless

 

Aliyah Saleem was a skeptical child, once being told one by her Imam to stop asking questions and reading books. Despite being sent to Islamic schools and going through a period of being a devout muslim (when she prayed not the five times a day required, but six) she gradually lost her faith. It was Carl Sagan's famous ‘Pale blue dot’ image and words that finally snuffed out her belief in god.

 

But when your family and community are very religious, coming out as an atheist can be difficult, even dangerous.  The stress caused by hostility and isolation from relatives, friends and community can lead to mental health issues. There is also the real threat of domestic violence in some cases.

 

Sadly, the understanding and support apostates need is lacking, and their voices often go unheard. Drawing on her own experiences and those of the hidden ex-Muslim community, Aliyah co-founded Faith to Faithless as a way of giving voice to those who've fought to be open about their loss of faith and provide the support they so often need. The aim is to help not just ex-Muslims, but all those from a strongly religious background. She quite deliberately avoids debates over theology, instead keeping the focus on helping those struggling to leave whatever religion they have grown up in, and feels herself privileged to be trusted with their stories of apostasy.  

 

Looking to the future, Aliyah sees a growing ex-Muslim community where, particularly amongst young people, there is increasing online connectivity.  But she never sees an end to the need for people who have left their faith to meet face to face and discuss their expereinces.

 

We again filled the B-bar, with around 40 attending, and the talk was followed by a great Q&A where Aliyah was able to expand upon some of the topics she had been discussing.

 

 

Aliyah Saleem

Aliyah Saleem