Aliyah Saleem’s journey from Islam to an Atheist campaigner.
When Aliyah Saleem decided to go against everything she had been brought up to believe in, it was one of the hardest decisions she had to make. Aliyah decided to shed off her Islamic beliefs and embraced Atheism.
Although Aliyah was raised Muslim in Britain and studied for a year in Pakistan, said she felt isolated. Now, at 27, she has decided to devote herself to helping other apostates and campaigning for them. Her journey of conversion to atheism was not entirely smooth. "It was very hard to leave Islam, especially as my friends and family did not understand my decision," Aliyah said.
At the end of October she spoke in Plymouth, Englad to share her experience at a Humanist gathering. The major problem is tackling the discrimination which is universal affecting all people from different religious backgrounds who leave their faiths.
As she spoke about her experiences, she said, "I studied at fundamentalist schools from the age of about 11 and I was quite indoctrinated in a way that most Muslims in the UK are not. Science, reason, evolution, and feminism were factors in me coming to a place where I no longer could see Islam as the one true religion. I found that my understanding of Islam contradicted my newly emerging feminist outlook and I could not reconcile faith with it.”
How I turned my back on Islam and became an atheist campaigner – Plymouth Herald https://t.co/kI4wyUiX6A
— Ari Rukmana (@Arie_Rukmana) October 31, 2016
At the age of 19 she decided to leave Islam. She has been an atheist for 8 years now. In addition to facing a backlash from being an apostate, she also quit wearing the hijab.
In her blog, she said our only possessions are our bodies and that wearing a hijab should be a woman’s choice. If they feel comfortable let them wear it, if not then she hopes her story will help them fight against being forced to wear one.
In 2015, she set up Faith to Faithless with her colleague, Imtiaz Shams, to provide a platform to help people in a similar situation of stigmatization and ridicule to share their journeys.
They started by holding conferences in campuses to speak out against discrimination and raise awareness on the issue. They want to tell let others know they are not alone and should not feel isolated.
Aliyah is continually advocating for the rights of women as well as providing support for the newly converts to atheism. She has been invited to speak at seminars, campuses and humanist events. From her experience, people are finding it easy to come out and display publicly their faithlessness.