Musings of a Godless Outsider
Those who know me as a collection of orderly lit pixels on the screen, know very little about me indeed. I do know identify myself in real life as Nayeem Aftab, the Atheist. I do not parade around the streets wearing a T-shirt with a large “A” printed on it (if you’re a fan of The Scarlet Letter or the recent teen movie Easy A, note that this particular “A” does not stand for “Adultery”).
This is not just due to the lack of freedom in my country, Pakistan. I’m not an Atheist warrior dedicated to trashing religion online and irritating religious people, especially Muslims, for the sake of personal entertainment. I do it because it’s pretty much the only outlet I have for my opinions – opinions that I cannot, for my own safety, divulge anywhere outside the internet. That has been made distressingly clear by the flurry of death threats I receive almost daily.
My close Muslim friends, on numerous occasions, have warned me against criticizing religion, especially Islam. This is not because they’re personally offended by my writings (though I’m sure they are at times, but try their very best to ignore it), but because they seem genuinely concerned about my safety. I have a habit of browbeating my friends into checking out my blog every time I update it. It mustn’t be easy for them…accessing my site nearly every day and reading things that they know they’ll find disagreeable or even offensive. One must give them credit for their patience.
I neither get paid to “propagate Atheism”, nor do I have an exquisite obsession with the liberal agenda. I’m simply a person expressing his honest opinion. My caustic tone on the internet is reactionary to the silence I’m forced to maintain in real life, thanks to the criminally intolerant nature of my countrymen – to nod each time I hear some guff about Islam being a religion of peace and tolerance.
The worst part about being an Atheist in Pakistan is that it’s next to impossible to find people you can relate to. With your kin declared loons, or even wretched criminals deserving death, by the vox populi, it’s a folly to disclose your true identity, no matter how passionately you feel about it.
Pakistan is a society comprising largely of cowardly Muslims mindlessly patting each other on their backs, afraid to look at the other side of things. Their obsession with killing people for what they call “blasphemy” (and I call “whistle-blowing”) is the epitome of their lack of faith in their own beliefs. It is only those who know that their web of deception is too weak to withstand the onslaught of positivism and logical thinking, who attempt to silence the opposition through threat of violence.
Those who are confident, never scurry away when opposing ideas when they present themselves, but rather listen patiently to what others have to say and try to answer their questions. People who are rational, do not beat around the bush on failing to answer such questions because they’ve grown overly attached to their ideas, but change themselves for the better.
People call me biased, which is one thing that I’m not. I’ve been a Muslim for 19 years, and had I been biased person, I would never have left Islam in the first place. I was made aware of the abundance of moral and scientific problems with religion itself, which is why I left it. I still consider myself a spiritual person, except that now I’m deriving the same satisfaction from science rather than superstitious nonsense.
I’m simply trying to carve out my a sanctuary in the middle of a rapidly fanaticizing world – a place where I can express myself without feeling threatened. I fail to understand why anybody in the world would have a problem with that.