The problem of convert disillusionment

Note: I wrote most of this last week, before the sister who posts here as Africana revealed her suspicions about “sock-puppets” (people pretending to be other people as well as themselves) at the ex-Muslim blog Here in Glitnir, which puts the rest of the content on that blog in a rather different light. I was never wholly convinced about how genuine the ex-Muslim and ex-practising Muslim stories on Glitnir were, but aspects of them still do ring true. Further discussion of that issue is in the comments to this post.

Recently, I stumbled across a depressing selection of blogs by people who had either left Islam or stopped practising (Here in Glitnir being one of the first type and So, Brother A Ran Off with a Stripper being one of the second), which contain various stories of women, particularly (although I don’t doubt that some men are affected as well) who became disillusioned with Islam after seeing the way women were treated, even in sections of the Muslim community which present themselves as relatively progressive. A lot of the stories are about Sufi tariqas, some of them explicitly referring to Shaikh Nuh’s group (particularly the Kharabsheh or “K-Town” contingent) but others seem to refer to that group although not by name. (More: Outlines, Nicole Cunningham.)

Of course, some Muslims will readily dismiss the stories on all of these blogs about Shaikh Nuh’s inner circle (they do not generally ascribe any wrongdoing directly to Shaikh Nuh himself) on the grounds that they come through an ex-Muslim, but the problem is that some of them ring very true, and the material about other problems in the community even more so. There are very bitter complaints about “dawahganda”, meaning da’wah material (i.e. publications written to attract people to Islam) which were dishonest and hid important facts, such as telling people that Islam itself condemns racism when in fact there is an awful lot of racism in the Muslim community itself, particularly against converts and even more particularly Black converts, and made simply untrue claims about the status of women in Islam. My own experience is that some men harbour ridiculous delusions about the status of women inside and outside of Islam, telling themselves (and each other) that freedom as it exists in the West right now is some sort of illusion, when in fact middle-class women, at least, have never had it better and certainly enjoy a greater degree of personal liberty than most Muslim women.

Some of the complaints are about things that the Muslim community has in fact acknowledged, although nobody in the Muslim community has any authority to actually stop it, but they can discourage it. I heard a preacher (Abdullah Hakim Quick) attack Muslims playing the benefit system and, particularly, expecting their wives to claim benefits they were not entitled to by pretending to be single when they were (religiously) married with children, back in the 1990s, and similar condemnations have been seen on Umar Lee’s blog and elsewhere. Much the same is true of the polygamy that was treated as something Muslims can do and therefore should, because non-Muslims say they can’t, and it led to a lot of distress and heartbreak for some of them women involved who, after all, were mostly not brought up expecting to become polygamous wives.

There are also stories of women being duped into marriage by means of people in the community providing false character references for men who turned out to be vicious, and the community not backing up wives who were being abused. Other problems are not specific to Islam — the issue of male addiction to pornography, for example, and their expectation that their wives perform as they see in these pornographic videos, which often feature humiliating and painful acts. It’s true that there are some Islamic publications which warn of the dangers of pornography, but the community also needs to back this up with help for both the addicts and their wives. It’s also true that there are non-Muslim women whose husbands are addicted to porn and expect them to act out what they see in the porn, but they won’t be told that their religion is in danger or that they are selling out the community if they take help from where it comes from — mostly, feminist-run organisations.

Again, we shouldn’t keep deluding ourselves about Islam delivering both liberation and security for women when many female converts have experienced neither. We would actually do better, as converts, to stop doing down our own culture and trying desperately to fit into immigrant cultures which are often completely alien to us and not always more in line with Islam than ours is. It’s not to say that no women outside the Muslim community ever get abused or that Muslim marriages, including arranged marriages, are never happy ones, but right now most non-Muslim western women do not have to marry men they do not know on the basis of references from people they do not know, and they are better able to get out of a bad marriage if the man turns out to be a loser or they find out something about him that had previously been hidden. We talk about Islam providing women with security, but that is not the impression you will get from reading some women’s accounts of their marriages, and not only those on these “recovering Muslim” blogs.

Finally, there is the matter of the tariqa groups playing with students’ lives, setting up marriages and then sending those involved back home and interrupting their studies, and the backbiting and blackballing that has been reported (much of it on the preserved K-Town Survivors blog; see these two old articles at Outlines [1], [2]). This is something I had heard going on in at least one of the less reputable “sufi” groups going back years — one particular group which has moved its base from town to town and country to country for years, establishing communities and businesses and then dismantling them and moving on — but hearing that it’s going on in what used to be seen as the answer to all the dodgy tariqas that used to be known of is pretty disturbing. It’s also quite upsetting to see that the whole modern-traditionalist movement has become rather inward-looking recently, and loath to discuss problems, often preferring to shut down discussion or push it under the carpet rather than actually deal with it. This was seen recently when attempts to discuss the problem of apostasy among converts on DeenPort led to discussion threads being deleted, but it happens pretty much any time any difficult issue gets raised there. During the 1990s, when it was an insurgent force (before 9/11, when it was courted by the establishment), it was something beautiful, a movement that sought to open a space for traditional Islam away from all the Deobandi/Bareilawi bickering in the UK, to provide evidence for it against the “salafi” claims, and to reconcile it, to a certain extent, with the modern way of life. What’s happened to it? There have been so many rumours and counter-rumours flying around in the last couple of years, in particular, that sometimes I don’t know who to believe anymore.

I’m sure many of us (in the UK at least) saw the Panorama exposé on Scientology the other day, showing the cult’s agents following their critics around and videoing their conversations with journalists in public places and keeping information about their followers to use against them later if they deem it necessary, or read Shahid Kamal Ahmad’s piece on the way the Qadianis fleece their followers by demanding what they call “chanda”, and then don’t give back when they fall on hard times. Nothing that has gone on so far in any of the groups mentioned approaches those depths, but that’s no reason to pat ourselves on the back; to compare groups of Muslims to the Qadianis or Scientologists is a bit like saying someone is more trustworthy than Bernie Madoff. Of course, it’s true that there are quite a lot of female converts who remain quite happily Muslim and quite happily married, the teachings about home schooling have some merit in my opinion (given my experience of the British school system) and many of those who apostated now say that they reject the basic principles of Islam and have not just left because they were abused. There is also the issue that converts to many other religions often fall away after a while, not just those who convert to Islam.

However, the fact is that converts are not especially well cared-for in many places, are more vulnerable to falling into bad marriages than most born Muslims who have the support of their families, are more likely to have their sincerity taken advantage of, and if their background was a relatively stable one before they were Muslim, they might just decide to go back to it (not everybody, convert or otherwise, has this choice). This is not to say that the community has been completely remiss in dealing with these problems, but the experience of many is that being a convert to Islam is a struggle, both with people in the community and those outside. I am not sure many born Muslims are aware of this, and perhaps many long-standing converts forget. It doesn’t mean some people won’t change their minds, but it might help reduce the number of disillusioned converts who fall away unnoticed.

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73 Responses

  1. Maryam says:

    It is very troubling for converts to find that they have been rejected by family for becoming Muslim only to find that the Muslim community also reject them, doubt their conversion and are prejudiced against them regardless of what racial background they come from. I also think that white women who convert are getting a lot of stick because they are presumed to be converting because of a man (usually presumed to be Asian or middle Eastern)rather than because they are sincere in their beliefe.

    There is NO support from the Muslim community for converts.

    Most mosques should actually have counselling and financial support networks set up for converts as well as educational centers (lessons)to not only teach them correct Islam (yes I know everyone has their own interpretations on that)but also aid them in looking for suitable spouses, accomodations etc.

    Some of the basic help that converts are supposed to get from the Muslim community is missing and we need to bring awareness to this issue.

  2. ibn Jurayj says:

    as-Salamu Alaykum

    Isn’t “Here in Glitner”,the blog of(when she was still Muslim)Saraji Umm Zaid. This is how I first came across it. Deeply depressing if true!

  3. Indigo Jo says:

    @ Ibn Jurayj: I read that too and that is what I strongly suspect. Apart from anything else, she used to post as “Mathurine” and there is one identical post which links to one on Tradicionalista, which she originally posted on a now-closed WordPress blog under that name. Mathurine also posted on another site called “Unreasonable Faith” and used the term “Muzzle” to mean Muslim — a term I’ve only seen one place else, namely the “Lollipop Head” blog which appeared on the domain after the old Sunni Sister site closed.

    Others have said that they don’t think Signy is UZ. But I’m not sure and I’ve spoken to Nazim Baksh who said that other well-connected people believe Signy is UZ.

  4. Huda says:

    Strongly suspect? Did anyone ask her? Is it an established fact that woman is not a Muslim anymore, let alone that she is responsible for these blogs? All these rumors - where is proof besides someone thinks so? Because of the word Muzzle? I know a brother who says that too - perhaps you can say it is that woman in drag? Doesn’t Quran say to bring our proof if we be truthful? And “well connected?” To who? Allah azza WA jal? Because it seems to me He is the only one who can definitively say. Maybe well connected people should concentrate on their own souls. Really - are any of us guaranteed Jannah that we can do this?

    This is like seventh grade behaviour that people are attempting to pass off as intelligent adult Muslim conversation. Like you, I read her blog, I miss it but honestly - people were quick to jump over her with rumors. Like one that she had died once. This just sounds like more of same and honestly, Yusuf? You’re sort of coming off like a stalker here.

  5. t says:

    one word…amin.

  6. luckyfatima says:

    Right said, Huda. Recalling her self declared snarky personality, I know she would be very glib about the flesh eating going around about her in the online community, true or not. It is not fair to speculate, and none of anyone’s business. The level of schadenfreude motivating our spectatorship on the matter is just disturbing.

    Indigo Jo, Safiyya, and others who are discussing the issue of the aspect of the community’s hand in Muslims’ (convert and native) disillusionment and ill-treatment from the community during times of need, I think it is a very important conversation to have and I would rather stick to that discussion.

  7. Salaam Alaikum,

    Yusuf, this post is absolutely spot on and fantastic in so many ways,it would be a real shame to let it get lost in a heap of speculation. It doesn’t matter massively exactly who these people are, just that they are out there and there are many more with similar stories.

    This isn’t my blog, but I would politely ask anyone involved in guessing games to concentrate on the matter in hand. It is serious, we do need to talk about it, but we need to do so responsibly.

  8. UmmZaynab says:

    as-salaamu alaykum

    So I recently heard about this allegation and as a former blogger and former friend of The Other UZ and I have also been seeking some information while withholding judgement.

    On one hand, I agree with what some people have mentioned that she was the type of person, in the end, who would not have cared if somebody was slandering her on the internet. I have also read (an admittedly very limited selection of) the stuff on the “new” blog and I find that many of the issues raised there are issues that UZ had dealt with directly and in very thinking ways and I find it hard to believe that the person who writes that blog is the same one who wrote the SS blog and was able to deal with those same topics in such a strong way. I also have reason to believe that if she fell out with certain controversial people with whom she was associated at the time, that it is definitely within the abilities of certain groups of people to slander her in this (or other) ways.

    She and I also had a falling out near the end of her (and my) blogging careers and I suspected that she had some tumultuous personal stuff going on, and I was chalking it up to postpartum depression or PTSD for reasons I won’t get into here.

    I am worried now about another blogger who I won’t name but whose well-known sudden conversion to a very radical form of Sufism is shocking and dangerous and falls into a pattern of swinging from one kind of extremism to another which would also characterize this case, if God forbid it turns out to be true.

    Why is it so many people are capable of believing in absolutes only, and never willing to accept nuance as a fact of life? It’s either all or nothing. As my husband and I say people who tend toward extremism will be extremist in whatever they choose— first extremist as a Salaf, then as a Sufi, next as an atheist? Yes, I hold Muslim communities responsible for their stupidities but at the same time this is a pattern within many Muslims (convert and not) that merits examination and analysis.

    May God protect and guide us.

  9. africana says:

    “also have reason to believe that if she fell out with certain controversial people with whom she was associated at the time, that it is definitely within the abilities of certain groups of people to slander her in this (or other) ways.”


    having read a good part of the glitnir blog and having once been a reader of the blog whisch we susoect the owner of glitnir blog was formerly umm zaid. i recall, for example, in sunni sister,talking of visits to Chuck E. Cheese for eid and of how she once took a rather heavy political book to that gathering which she attended with her new baby whom she referred to as sapling. now in the glinir blog, the blog owner talks of eid visits to Chuck E.Cheese and whilst she doesn’t appear to speak of reading a book at any of the eid gatherings at this venue, she does mention dipping in and out of her book during homebased eid gathering. I also recall Umm Zaid talking of how, pre-conversion, she would read the books of ibn taymiyya in mini skirts at her work place and so it would seem a natural progression that her initial involvement with islamic movements would be with salafisalthough i don’t recall that the mosque in new york (which i believe belonged to the spanish-speaking muslim community)where she took her shahada was salafi orienatated.Her jordanian husband convinced her, much to her chagrin, to follow a path othher than salafism and it was after this that she began to become involved with the traditional islam movement, which she always wrote with a capital T.

    The main points of the above story are mirrored in some of the posts on the glitnir blog.

    My own suspicion,which i attempted to voice on another blog, is that the owner of glitnir might in fact have a mental health condition and be in need of professional has to wonder why someone whose identity, even in their umm zaid days was never widely known, would make multiple identites chatter with one another in the comments section of an anonymous blog, surely not for the sake of people whom she knows don’t even know her personally?

  10. africana says:

    “first extremist as a Salaf, then as a Sufi, next as an atheist?”

    my thoughts exactly.

  11. africana says:

    umm zaid would frequently quoute hamza yusuf, does anyone recall the “panem e circenses” post? the owner of glitnir mentions thatshe once greatly admired hamza yusuf. umm zaid, in her pre-converison days was a goth of sorts (as was implied by the post in which i think she was working at toys R us and he was called into the office by managementover her choice of clothing. now, in one of the comments on glitnir,she laughingly recalls looking up satanistic atheism at her high school libaray in the ‘80’s. now, called me prejudiced but when i think of satanists, people of goth persuasion do come to mind. at one point, umm zaid moved with her family to boston (and acquired a chinese rice paper room divider, i might add) during that time she wasn’t posting so frequently ostensibly because of a hand injury. i can’t recall the exact date of the move but the diaries on glitnir do seem to imply a break from blogging. i recall she had a break from blogging when she visited jordan also so it’s quite possible that it’s this period away from sunni sister to which the diaries refer.

  12. africana says:

    apologies for all the typos and skewwhiff grammar.

  13. africana says:

    @umm zaynab, are you the same umm zaynab, who had the homeschooling blog and who lived in the southern US? i really liked that blog.

  14. UmmZaynab says:

    as-salaamu `alaykum

    Not all of the things you mention about her life match up with waht was related to me, and I was on many online groups with her including private, invitation-only groups for a number of years. She specifically referred to her husband as being “salafi”, albeit not strictly so, more than once.

    Furthermore, as she blogged a great deal about her life and becamse somewhat famous in our circles I think it would be quite easy for someone to replicate stories and even her style if their intent is to impersonate her. This is why I cannot discount this possibility.

    Br. Matthew, you posted a comment some time back stating that you had information from a reliable source that these allegations are untrue— is that no longer a reliable source? What happened?

    Particularly when women’s issues are discussed the author of glitnir seems to have or pretend to have complete ignorance about the varying interpretations of certain issues, alternate aHadeeth, important stories, etc., that clarify the issues she is talking about. I KNOW from experience that UZ was NOT ignorant of those things. As I said, I was not just a blog reader but interacted closely with her on multiple forums and we even spoke on the phone a couple of times. The glitnir blog just does NOT sound like her to me.

    UZ if you’re out there, I apologize for even getting involved in this discussion because I find it distasteful but I do still feel concerned for your welfare, despite our differences.

  15. UmmZaynab says:

    as-salaamu `alaykum

    One more thing— and probably the thing I should have said first before getting into emotions and details— on what basis is the allegation of the authorship of glitnir being made and to where can we trace the first mention of this allegation online? It is only fair that before we (myself included) get into the issue we should know something about the source of this “information” first. Jazaakumu l-laahu khayran.

  16. Umm Yasmin says:

    Conversion to Islam is still an emerging area in academic studies; by far and away the most studied is conversion to Christianity, and there are a variety of important differentiators that make understanding Muslim conversion in its infancy. Still, if we take away our personal connection to Islam as our faith, and look at the experiences of some of the ex-converts from a socio-psychological perspective, they do fit into what we know of experiences of ‘cultic’ conversions (conversions to socially-devalued new religious movements, among largely educated, middle-class people).

    I am not disparaging individual converts’ conversion, hey—I’m a Western convert myself—but what I am saying is that as a social phenomenon, these stories fit with some of the markers for cultic experiences as studied by eg. Finke & Stark. If we think of these tariqas/movements that they are joining as the Muslim equivalent of say, the Unification Church or first gen. Hare Krishna, a lot of these blogs start to make sense.

    The cultic markers (if we take Ellwood’s (1986) definition are:

    • the group presents a distinct alternative to dominant patterns within the society in fundamental areas of religious life (relatively small, in comparison to the dominant majority expression of religion and distinctly different from the dominant religious tradition in its theoretical, practical and sociological forms)

    • a strong, authoritative and charismatic leadership: the group is usually focused on one person who is the founder/gives special teachings upon which the cult is based/is uniquely qualified to teach or impart the special technique for spiritual experience “In sum, the relationship of followers is more basically to the person of the charismatic figure than to any particular doctrine or practice; the latter become important because they are associated with the person and are ways of tapping the revelation and power that he or she possesses innately” (p220)

    • is oriented towards inducing powerful subjective experiences and meeting personal needs: there is something in these groups that, at least initially, fulfils the needs of the converts.

    • is separatist

    • sees itself as legitimated by a long tradition of wisdom or practice of which it is only a current manifestation

    Now, does this not describe almost perfectly, some of the tariqa groups these disillusioned converts have joined? Forget Sufism as a legitimate Islamic phenomenon, or even the traditional tariqas as legitimate forms of religious social groupings, but if we map the characteristics of cultic groups onto some of these new tariqas, they are scarily descriptive!!

    What this means, is the disgruntled converts are the bellweather of some future problematic potentialities.

    Ellwood, R. “Several Meanings of Cult,” Thought 61 (June 1986): 212-24.

  17. umm muhamad says:

    Hearing all this about dear sister Umm Zaid, my heart goes out to her. Umm Zaid I hope you are reading this, or if someone can pass on a message to her. Please tell her that sisters are here for her, whatever her beliefs. Life is so full of ups and downs and trials and all go through great peaks of faith and lack of it. Umm Zaid is a writer, a very talented one, so whatever faith she turns to, or lack of it, she will still write, since that is her talent within her that she will need to manifest. So of course all her feelings and thoughts are out there for the public, and may be at the end of the day that might in fact save her, as she is making known and explicit her feelings. I am sure I have met her back in Jordan but can’t remember. But please someone tell her that all judgements of her are wrong, that sisters can be there for her, and we will do anything to help her and in any way. The above sister is correct, life is full of nuances, we are contrary beings, this one day and the other the next; that UZ reveals that is a truth we must face. But to go to extremes shows pain and hurt. Please someone help her in her pain and hurt, even if is masked by bravado. And I say the same for the others about whom blogs are talking: famous writers whom were once famous Muslims and now famous non-Muslims: please, if anyone knows them, or knows of them, please write to them, ring them or anything, make contact and do anything possible to help, which means not necessarily converting them back, but by being their as co human beings finding dunya a very difficult place to be. As I wrote on Safiya’s blog, nifaq and kufr are by degrees, we all have the potential to have none of it, all of it, and all the degrees and shades of grey in the middle. It is easy to get sidetracked down the wrong staircase, kufr being at its end. But it doesn’t have to be the end, there is always hope; people often say brash remarks in order to disguise deep pain, and once the pain subsides, then sensibilities resume and may be once again these people may realise that as much as we as brothers and sisters have cold hearts, are often wrong, make so many mistakes, the fact of la ilaha ilAllah will always remain the same. It is our only constant. And kufr is just veil upon veil, so let’s help these brothers and sisters, by someone trying to get in touch with them and showing them love and normal friendships, take the veils back off again, one by one, until faith is resdiscovered. May Allah help us all help them.

  18. Umm Yasmin says:

    I absolutely concur with Umm Muhammad. We (particularly the monotheist) communities need to develop positive theologies of apostasy. By that I mean, these are not cases of the high-treason sort that the classical jurists defined apostasy as - in the way that a modern soldier leaving an army and selling secrets to the other side might be considered treasonous in the nation-state. These are individuals for whom the ‘Muhammadan’ path (to differentiate the Prophetic teachings of Islam from the more generic universal ‘islam’ of all true religion) particularly as it was presented to them by the rest of us, is simply no-longer tenable for them.

    If a brother or sister has been drawn into a cultic milieu, how can we dare to judge them if they rightfully turn away from a spiritual path that is void of depth and meaning? I am not saying all of the tariqas/groups being discussed are like this, but the markers for cultic groups surely must give us pause for thought.

  19. africana says:

    as to the points mentioned, whilst as a convert my own encounters with muslims have been very positive(alhmdulillah), i do not discount others’ experiences. i have never had any friends in the classical sense of the word in the offline muslim community(other than another female convert),however my muslim neighbours whether here glasgow or in the other places i’ve lived have always been very kind, frequently sending over dishes of birysni and the like. i certainly have the impression that (should i ever need them) i could call on them.

  20. ali khan says:

    i think a lot of the above comments are symptomatic of the (current) general nastiness of muslims in general. We have situations now here in the uk where muslims dont know their muslim neighbours and dont want to know them. Disgusting.

    As one of the above posters said converts need proper,organised support and training and counselling. I really feel sorry for converts especially where they have been ostracised from their families. Although centres are now appearing up and down the country a lot more needs to be done and more priority needs to be given to this area.

    May Allah swt protect us all from apostasy and may we all die with iman. Ameen.

  21. africana says:

    @umm zaynab,

    perhaps umm zaid’s husband was like many arabs (and myself for that matter)in that he didn’t identify strongly with any particualar madhab. maybe he was classed as salafi only because his attitude was in opposition to that of some of the western converts and second geneartion asians with their reverence for the different schools of thought and the following of particular scholars. preachers such as zakir naik and perhaps even amr khaled and tarek swaidan who are hardly what people have in mind when they typically think of a salafi, do fall into the salafi category as they don’t rely solely on one individual scholar or school of thought to derive rulings. i do make use of books like reliance of the traveller A manual of shafi jurisprudence)howvever i don’t rely on it exclusively and see nothing wrong in reading the hadith literature myself. if one keeps one’s primary obligations to God and sincerely seek insight into a matter, He will, by means of His books, provide us with insights or alter our perspective on matters which we might have found troubling or difficult to accept. i feel, and i could be wrong, that the following of madhabs is much more common place amongst south asians (with the exception of the aforementioned dr.naik) and amonst western converts some of whom for the past 8 or so years have been involved in efforts to revve madhabbism.

  22. africana says:

    “As one of the above posters said converts need proper,organised support and training and counselling.” true. but let’s not forget that converts having grown up in the british cultural millieu are better placed than people from BME groups to access mainstream services. there seems to be a bit of learned helplessness going on on the part of some white converts.

  23. africana says:

    “May Allah swt protect us all from apostasy and may we all die with iman.”


  24. Maryam says:

    The problem that cannot be over looked here is the confusion that a lot of converts have to deal with.

    There is the splits within the Muslim communities to deal with, the political agendas of some mosques,in fighting, backbiting, slanders, misconduct of so called scholars/ imams etc.

    The basis of Islam (ie Tawheed, salat, zakat, hajj, fasting) is sidelined in favor of making sure converts are wearing hijab, looking for a spouse,attending functions and being seen in the community and everyone wants to know them for the first few months. After that nothing. They are on their own apart from a few friends that they may have made.

    Couple that with being brought up in a completely different ideology, faith and cultural background etc, rejection from family and friends who cannot understand WHY a person seemingly has rejected all that they have been brought up with for something unknown to them, imagine the stress a convert is under?

    And most of us have been there but maybe on different levels.

    Why would we not expect some converts to do a complete u- turn when they see Muslims doing haram, doing all the things that they have been taught to believe is not a part of the religion?

    Personal story: When I converted (in Oxford), there was a particular family that some people recommended to me to go to to learn and meet other sisters. Others were very adamant that I should stay away from them. But they were literally the only people actively looking after converts, providing them with a place to learn, checking up on them, helping with money, getting new jobs down to giving them their first Qur’ans, prayer mats and compasses just to name a few. What became obvious was that everyone had a PERSONAL reason to say yes or no to converts going to them rather than religious based reason.

    So, many girls were left wondering if they should go to them or not (many being late teens, early 20’s). Some girls were from very troubled familial backgrounds.

    These are huge issues for someone who just wants to know what Islam is to have to deal with.

    Where is the priorities?

  25. ibn Jurayj says:

    @africana: what exactly is it about the comments section that makes you think it’s one person writing them all?

  26. Ginny says:

    Assalamu alaikum, I’m not sure if the blog(s) referred to are that it of the former? Umm Zaid or not. And I really don’t wish to speculate on that. I will say though that like Umm Zaynab I also had a horrible following out with her and thinking about it still hurts, but I really don’t want to go into that here. But to be honest, I can see why many people leave Islam, perhaps they may say it’s because they really don’t believe anymore and maybe that’s true, but however, I think a lot of it does also have to do with either the treatment they get within the Muslim community, or because of some of the awful experiences that they (mainly women) may have had. And it’s just so easy to say something simple like “oh they just were weak in faith” or “they didn’t really believe anyway”, because then we can just collectively dismiss them and write them off and then we, collectively speaking, don’t have to actually address the real problems in our community that may be driving people away from it. I mean, when I was trying to get out of my first marriage which was abusive, going to the imam of the local masjid sure didn’t help. And aside from some really wonderful sisters, it was ultimately my non-Muslim friends and family who stepped up and helped me get out. And at the time my faith was pretty darn weak, however, my ex-husband had taken so much from me, and had hurt me so much, that I didn’t want him to be the reason why I lost my Islam.

  27. africana says:

    “going to the imam of the local masjid sure didn’t help. And aside from some really wonderful sisters, it was ultimately my non-Muslim friends and family who stepped up and helped me get out.”

    salams, i don’t think converts can really expect much assistance or understanding from an indiviual whose cultural back ground is entirely different to their own. for example, as far as some people are concerned jealous and controlling behaviour is seen as natural rather than as pathological. in cases of abuse, i think that, especially where the abuser is known and maybe even respected in the comunity,discussing abuse might be counterproductive as abusive men (and women) are often very adept at smearing their accusers. only those involved in a marriage know its reality and relying on someone else to do your bidding, where you’re up against a manipulative spouse, seems a little wrongheaded. havinmg said that, i do think that imams on the whole are a little purer of heart (with a couple of notable exceptions) than the communities in which they work and i think that they could probably be of some assistance in bilateral marital discord. i would also like to add that i once had occasion to speak with an egyptian imam of a mosque in london regarding an issue of my own anf found that to be a very positive experience.

  28. africana says:

    ” what exactly is it about the comments section that makes you think it’s one person writing them all?” @ibn jurayj,


    if you look at the comments in this post, the third comment down is from bettye (whom i belive is one of the sock puppets of signy(the moderator and former umm zaid, probably). the below comment was made soon after yusuf made mention of my suspicion on the get outlines blog. as you can see, the style is very tongue in cheek and uses the phrase “you and i” when speaking with signy in a frivolus way, which i felt was almost like she was trying to say that the sock puppetry had never been a secret in the first place. however, in bettye’s comments that predate this accusation this tongue in cheek, “so what if i’m a puupet?” style is absent. … And how we were finally told… that nooooo, they are REAL? We really did agonize over that, you and I. How crushing to be told that the descriptions of Paradise weren’t metaphorical but literal….”

  29. africana says:

    then just after that, signy says: “So does the hadith here is more important than the quran?”

    to which bettte replies:

    “Ignore the contradiction, Signy! Disengage your critical thinking skills!


    signy, then, in the next comment says:

    ”..But I do remember for us how puzzling it was to have been told for so long..”

    this strikes me as a rather od, slightly humorous turn of phrase to use soon after being accused of not being a separate identity.

  30. africana says:

    i came across this cooment on another blog and thought i would post it here as it’s relevant to the point raised by umm yasmin,umm zaynab and safiya outlines of the tendency of some converts to over invovle themselves in groups/movements and then become disillusioned when they disappoint.

    Apologies if any of this sounds patronising, especially coming from a stranger. Although I’m a stranger to you I’ve been reading your blog for a while (don’t comment often). Been through what you’re going through and went through some other stuff later.

    “Welcome to the ”other” side, as you may have already found out it ain’t no bed of roses in this camp either. The traditional/sufi scene is itself going through a bit of a ‘burnout’. Like your ‘awakening’ from the Salafi mess, a lot of people catching on to some of the NEO-traditional sufi bull’ish that’s been happening. My advice to ya bro, keep a low profile during this transition period, you’re going to be pulled by different people in different directions. You have found someone you trust and who seems to be benefitting you, go with that and ignore invitations to other sufi groups, especially the “popular” ones.

    You’re likely to be net savvy and know your way around the “ahlul sunnah wa world wide web jama’”. Still, once you get ‘involved’ it’s a different world. Leav’em alone too, nothing personal. I’m sure the individuals on these forums are good people but the “scene” they rep is a pile of steaming… At best boring at worst they represent a microcosm of Ahlul Sunnah, but act like only their handful of teachers are the sole saviours of the Ummah. There are the self righteous sufi types, having same old tired conversations from Ramadan to Ramadan, and then there is the new trend of pusillanimous pseudo-intellectual types with their false humbleness and missing backbone, who would do anything to look nice in the eyes of the liberal kafir, prefer ‘God’ to ‘Allah’ and oh yeah they say now the Salafis are just misunderstood huggable teddy bears.

    Although I didn’t agree with a lot of what you used to write, I respected your honesty and firmness in your stance (your parents didn’t raise no invertebrate ). Don’t look at it like you’re switching sides, you’re just taking your next step to taking yourself closer to Allah. Don’t go OTT in criticising the Salafis, the movement deviated when they abandoned the madhabs and left the accepted aqidah of the majority of the ulema of the Ummah, khalas, there’s no point going over and over these points. It didn’t convince you back then so why should it have any effect on them now? And neither go OTT defending everything Sufi. You can live your entire life without going to a mawlid, group dhikr, hadra, maqam etc and still have a deen that would be envious of other people, esp some of these so called modern Sufis, if they knew. Just by mastering what your Lord has asked of you. The Shariah doesn’t come first, it comes first and last. Shari’ah of the outward and inward, its not a secret knowledge that you have to be part of a select group for you to know.

    Learn your fiqh properly, its not just about knowing rules, fiqh is an understanding. You’re a bright cat, insha Allah you’ll land on your feet.”

  31. Abu Othman says:

    I think the fact that Saraji Umm Zaid = Signy of “Here in Glitnir” is a no-brainer. I confronted her once on her blog after she made a public post denying this link. Right after my comment that post disappeared. I would say that is implicit admission.

  32. africana says:

    i agree, abu some ways, though, by the witer avoiding the admission that “here in glitnir” is run by the former umm zaid, she will at least, if she returns to islam(and i sincerely hope she does) she will, if she chooses be spared having to make any painful admissions.

  33. africana says:

    the reason why the fact of a once active muslim leaving islam (and may Allah protect us from that) should be of concern to us is that it firstly points to the way in which faith can be removed from a person and should thus increases us in our gratitude for the gift of faith. secondly, it may help to lessen the attachment so prevalent amongst certain groups of muslims for certain perosnalities which is such that, if that person were to waver in their faith some of us might too.

    signy seems to think that the principal reason for casting aspersions on the authorship of the stories and comments is due to not wanting to hear unpalatable “truths” about the experiences of some convert and born muslim women. frankly, the stories are nothing that i haven’t come across on much more widely read fora and i certainly don’t begrudge such stories being made available. contrary to signy’s claims,the negative experiences recounted on the blog do concern me but i view the solution to problems such as spousal abuse to lie not with the muslim community, but with the affected individual themselves.

    valuing their own heriatge and remaining aloof from the shame culture which dominates, to varying degrees, many of the muslim immigrant communities in the west will go a long way towards helping muslims(men and women) escape abusive or inadequate marriages.

    it is also essential that the convert avoids adopting the attitude, fairly prevalent in ethnic minority communities (and which stems from experiences of racism) that wider society will, as a rule, be hostile to them and any attempt to seek redress of problems through mainstream organisations will result in islam being problematised.a convert might feel that highlighting a serious failing on the part of another muslim might be to impute islam and cause a painful feeling of shame as they are forced to face the fact that the muslim community, as it currently stands, is not the ideal they had been sold and no doubt proudly proclaimed to their non-muslim family. such converts need to remember that their spouse placed them in this quagmire. by taking steps to adddress problems through agencies other than The Community, it could be argued that seeking to establish one’s islamic right to live free from oppression easily counters any negativite messages that might be conveyed by admitting that one’s muslim spouse is far from the islamic ideal.

    sometimes putting up with behaviour that violtaes one’s bounadaries is tied up with the experiences of a convert prior to their conversion. in one’s youth, one tends to contrast one’s experiences with those of one’s peer grop to determine what is and isn’t acceptable. in those converts who came from families where romantic relationships were not topic for discussion and who had never been romantically involved with anyone prior to their marriage, they might question whether the behaviour they are on the receiving end is not perhaps the norm and that the companionable relationship that their parents enjoyed was not perhaps an oddity. such are the follies of youth.

    “Don’t let them change ya, oh! - Or even rearrange ya! Oh, no! “

  34. A muslimah says:

    Look her up on facebook under her name and ask her if you’re in doubt as to her apostasy. She also has a more personal blog on tumblr that clearly is hers.

    I think we should all take heed from this and thank Allah for Islam. We do need to strengthen our communities one person at a time, and raise strong Muslims who will love and respect each other in their journey as a couple to attain unto Higher.

    When shit hits the fan, it isn’t God we should turn our back to, but our own ego. It is very easy to blame God and religion for our problems. What else is there left if we remove God from our lives? Scary stuff.

  35. Maryam says:

    Because there is a history behind most of the comments here, I am trying to avoid it. BUT, there is a few things that need to be remembered. 1)slam starts with our own belief in Allah not belief in the people. If a Muslim chooses to leave Islam and blames it upon treatment they have received from a person or group and then claims it is what Islam has taught that person or group,it is that person at fault not Islam. If they have educated themselves about the religion,then they should be able to see the difference in what people do and what Islam teaches,therefore they should be stronger in rejecting the weakness and deficiency of people not Islam.

    2)Too many books are written about how women in Islam should be, how they should behave, their relationship with their family, community etc, but rarely do I see a book stating CLEARLY what a mans role and obligations are.You might be lucky to get a paragraph or one chapter within a whole book. Due to this (and the many more examples out there,) it would look like all the pressures are on women to be “perfect” as mothers and wives especially. Women’s faults are written about and critisised by just about everyone but men are getting away with blue murder. The hadith, narrating the Prophet’s (SAW)journey into the hell fire and his narration that most of the occupants of the hell fire were women is one of those used to beat women into submission all too often. That is a huge pressure to deal with when all around you (the convert), your life may be filled with misery, abuse, neglect and there does not seem to be any where to turn. Ironically all the places where a person should be able to go to for help, seem quick to point out the faults of the victim rather than dealing with the issue at hand.

    Converts especially women, seem to be misled into thinking that they have to be the best of the best. Able to tolerate injustice, striving for knowledge all the time (that’s why they are so active in communities),with a perfectly groomed and behaving family, dressed ultra conservative, never travels without a mahrem,never shows anger (or any form of emotion full stop unless it is a smile), blah, blah, blah all for the Sake of Allah. They are the “domestic martyrs” of the West. They are the subjugated and oppressed Muslims of our times and there are many of them.

    IF on top of all of that, it turns out that a person has mental problems deriding from emotional instability, then it is even more important that the person is protected NOT rejected. Some husbands do play on the “she is unstable” card a bit too often when they are also unstable themselves (why would a person abuse their spouse otherwise?)

    Muslims harp on all too often about the rights of Muslim women, how we have been elevated to a better status compared to other societies, but our actions are proving otherwise.

    That has to be accepted and corrected.

  36. Null says:

    I don’t think there’s really any reason to solve this mystery of authorship of this ex-muslim blog. We all knew and loved the SunniSisters and Mere Islam blog and their owners as we remember them. That should be enough for us. Who but Allah knows where their journey’s will eventually lead?

    Speak well, or be silent. Our words may be the difference between this being a moment of low iman, to someone losing their Islam forever.

  37. Yusuf Muhammad says:

    One of the first things I was told back in the early noughties when the Traditionalist movement came to prominence was that here we have a group who are reaching out to people – especially western Muslims (both converts and born Muslims) – who are unable to connect with the existing Islamic infrastructure, namely scholars and sheikhs from back home where ever that may be. In fact, these very people aspired (and still do, I believe) to have a monopoly over all Islamic discourse in the west and in the English medium, and would become irritated when they see scholarship that may not be of their minhaj. I remember one particular senior young scholar who, with much pride and boast, pointed me into the direction of Saraji and asked if those girls who graduate from the darul ulooms could write like this? This was my first introduction to Saraji Umm Zaid.

    I also often heard people mentioning how the graduates of darul ulooms were apparently unable to reach out to converts and that the Traditionalist sheikhs are fulfilling this supposed void. For me, it was a bit of a strawman argument. In fact, it was the case at times that the students of these sheikhs would try hard to attract people into their circle and bring them away from other groups.

    Anyway, having read the Ofglitnir blog from beginning to end, would it be appropriate for me to say that the Islam that was dished out to this poor soul was served in a very elitist fashion? Reading her writings, it would seem that her teachers and sheikh forwarded the impression that the Islam, the fiqh, the aqidah and the Sufism they practice is Islam in its Truest Sense. Although this True-Islam rhetoric may sound very romantic, authentic and traditional at the time, there are dangerous consequences. Would it be appropriate for me to say that when Saraji came to a low edge in her spirituality, she felt the Tariqah (the embodiment of True Islam) wasn’t doing anything for her and that she felt the problem lies in Islam rather than individuals? If her peers, teachers and sheikh had taught her differently, humbly and in a non-elitist way, then she would have attributed shortcomings to individuals and not the faith itself. This is perhaps the reason why those associated with the Tablighi Jamat are often told to attribute shortcomings to individuals, people and not to the work or faith. Attributing shortcomings to the work could create a strong sense of despondency and drive one away from it, whereas attributing shortcomings to people would force one to rectify them.

    Coming from a Deobandi background, I felt very interested in seeing how Signy refers to Deobandis and so searched for the word Deoband on her blog and found four results.


      “I thought it was ironic that of the four communities they studied, two of them were Houston and Buffalo. American ex-Muslims, you know that those two cities are synonymous in the minds of many Muslims with radical or salafi / wahabi and Deobandi teachings and far out sentiments.”


      “TheOur speaker wasn’t some Islamist from the Arab world, or a Deobandi fanatic from India. She was American like us, someone who in many other ways might be considered moderate, modern, a little feminist.”


      “There are estimates out there that only 50% or so of Muslim women even wear a scarf. Within most any Muslim country outside of Saudi and Afghanistan, it is abundantly clear that face veiling is practiced by a minority, and that many of those who do so are either elderly or come from extremely conservative backgrounds. You can call that “wahabism” or “salafism” or “deobandism” or “sober sufism” or whatever – it’s all extremely conservative Islam by a number of names.”


      “TheIf you want to know, these attitudes of hatred mainly seemed to be among the leadership, the imams and the hardcore religious types – Salafis, sufis, and Deobandis. I would hear, from the average person, more of the positive stereotyping of Jews than the neo-Nazi type stuff."

    It’s interesting how she refers to Deobandis as being “radicals”, upholders of “far-out sentiments”, “fanatics”, “extremely conservative”, “sober Sufis”, people with “attitudes of hatred”, “hardcore religious types” and anti-Semites.”

    If you read the context in which these statements were made, I feel strongly that these attitudes did not just develop after she left Islam, but were nurtured during her time as a Muslim. So when Traditional Islam (Islam in its truest manifestation) failed for her, she felt there was no other path she could tread and left Islam altogether. It might be an idea for our Traditionalist friends to take a lesson from all this.

  38. M Risbrook says:

    I don’t think there’s really any reason to solve this mystery of authorship of this ex-muslim blog.

    The biggest gripe I have with blogs is their anonymity. Is there a reason why so few blogs offer the facility to contact their owner other than outright secrecy? The worst offenders are those run off the back of other websites such as wordpress or blogspot because you can’t even do a whois search to track down the name and address of the owner like you can with proper website.

  39. Yakoub says:

    I think it all depends where converts “land” in the Muslim community, and what their expectations are. On the first count, if you tag onto a mosque that serves an inner city Muslim community, perhaps one which is ethnically distinct, expect to find all the problems associated with such communities. In such an instance, it’s really not for us goora to moan about it, but to decide whether we can serve our communities by doing something positive. Regarding the latter, it’s about understanding the history of Muslim communities, locally and globally, and realising how the past contributes to the problems we live with in the present. One might choose to work from the outside if life within these communities isn’t tenable, but I don’t have much time for those santimonious kiss-and-tell whiners who run off and moralise about the failings of the Muslim community.

  40. Null says:

    I understand M Risbrook. But that’s the internet does - it provides anonymity to those who want it.

    ‘Umm Zaid” is just as anonymous as ‘Signy” - the readers who don’t know them personally have never put a face to the name. The contents of a blog stand on their own. For the people that read those blogs, the wisdom found on the Mere Islam and Sunni Sisters site is not diminished even if (IF!) the authors of those blogs now renounce their previous writings. We can only wish them well on their path.

    Even Ghazzali had moments of doubt and skepticism. We shouldn’t as a community be so gung-ho about burning our bridges, and if the bloggers haven’t talked about their apostasy on their own blogs, there is no need for us to speculate on the matter.

  41. africana says:

    “you tag onto a mosque that serves an inner city Muslim community, perhaps one which is ethnically distinct, expect to find all the problems associated with such communities. In such an instance, it’s really not for us goora to moan about it, but to decide whether we can serve our communities by doing something positive.”

    exactly. it is distasteful to expect economically deprived ethnic minority communities to provide services already present in wider society. i think it’s for oganisations, specifically aimed at converts,to be strengthened and their reach across the country increased.

  42. M Risbrook says:

    But that’s the internet does - it provides anonymity to those who want it.

    There are times when I hold the attitude:

    No contact details = No credibility

    Think about it. If you were to find a pile of papers on a park bench with no indication who had written what’s on them, then would you believe every word? I can’t see much difference between piles of papers like this and anonymous blogs from the viewpoint of the quality and accuracy of the information.

    I think it’s logical to say that most of the anonymous anti-Islamic blogs are collaborative rather than personal efforts judging by the volume of articles posted on them. There’s a limit to how much a single person can write in a day.

    Riaz made me laugh by saying that Ali Sina is like Doctor Claw from Inspector Gadget. Nobody seems to have ever seen their faces.

  43. africana says:

    the fact of it being anonymous should be reason enough to adopt a suspicious attitude to whatver accounts are found on such blogs.whilst i agree that some of the stories contained on the blog do, as matthew puts it, ring true,and that efforts should be exerted to change those unfavorable conditions, i don’t think an anonymous blog, especially one which most likely makes use of sock puppetry, should be determining the agenda of the muslim community.

    it’s rather like us getting hot under the collar based on newspaper articles about bacha bazi in afghanisatn when the real reason that such practises are brought to our attention is to validate the continued occupation of foreign lands.

  44. UmmZaynab says:

    I disagree that the only problem in the case of “Glitnir” is community and personality issues. The author of that blog raises specific questions about specific aspects of the life of the Prophet Salla l-laahu `alayhi wasallam, the Qur’an, and Islamic beliefs that she claims to no longer agree with. Nothing there is anything new that hasn’t been raised by other people and answered, they are all issues that probably every person has had to deal with and ask questions about at one point or another. What is surprising is why the blogger in question didn’t seek out explanations or alternatives. Again, it seems that the pattern is wanting to believe only in absolutes, discomfort with nuance and/or lack of certainty. For example, if you can’t believe that everyone other than the people who agree with you are going to hell then why do you automatically turn around and believe that nobody is going? Is there no middle ground? Is there no room to say that God knows what is in each person’s heart and as the Qur’an says HE will judge between us on the matters in which we differed. Some people seem to only want to believe in God if they can believe that they can see and know everything about God and His wishes spelled out in front of them. Yet the Qur’an says that if Allah had willed He would have sent Angels, and they could have laid everything out in front of us, but then we would have been instantly responsible and there would have been no room for discernment and choices. The “choices” part is what seems to trip people up, having faith that God will watch people make choices and judge them according to their intentions.

    The other issue with Glitnir is that she starts her blog saying that she “never believed in God in the first place.” If that’s the case, then why did she become Muslim in the first place? Was it all about “identity”, about “being different”, “going against the grain” or joining a movement in which they could say “I’m right and you’re wrong”? I observed this pattern— a strong desire to be the loudest and rightest person in the room and to condemn and ridicule all who disagreed. When this gets untenable or tiresome in a religious context, I guess the next way to do it is to renounce all religion and to ridicule and condemn all those who are religious? Again, a switch to atheism is an easy way out. Eliminate all nuance and choice, get on your high horse and condemn everyone, feel like you’re the only enlightened one in the room. And hey, if you’re anti-Muslim you might just make some money out of it too.

    Inna li-laahi wa inna ilayhi raji`oon.

  45. Ginny says:

    Assalamu alaikum, UmmZaynab and others. I didn’t read all the way through the blog, but it seemed like a lot of the “disillusionment” if you will, at least for some of the posters was because of aspects of Islamic practice (or lack of it) within the community or how they were treated by said community. However, I did wonder, if she/they never really believed anyway, then why go to all of the trouble of being Muslim and putting yourself in the community in the first place?

  46. UmmZaynab says:

    Ginny, that’s one of the reasons (in addition to just being careful with a person’s reputation) why I continue to have doubts about the alleged authorship of that blog. The person everyone talks about had their eyes wide open about the disfunctions of Muslims and Muslim communities and frequently blogged intelligently about those issues. The blog we’re discussing now is written in a very simplistic polemical style and rehashes many of the claims and discourse of people who did not have that experience or insight, including right-wing anti-Muslim diatribes. You know stuff like “Muslims don’t tell you that they think women are unintelligent” or something like that when we have all been talking for years and years about how this is not an Islamic value and the specific texts that back us up on these issues. I even recently went back to some of the SS archives that are still available and read particularly those which were posted when the other blog was started and I continue to have hard time believing that one equals the other, despite the fact that some of the circumstancial evidence seems quite strong.

    As much as I would like to agree with those who say “it’s not important to know” I think it is, since the person in question was highly regarded and famous and the implications of that needs to be dealt with, as well as for some of us who had more personal interactions with the person and would just like to know that everything is okay or at least whether or not the individual in question is being unfairly slandered.

  47. Ginny says:

    Assalamu alaikum, UmmZaynab, when I say it’s “not important” to know, I really don’t want to seem flippant about it or anything, just that I don’t want to, speaking for myself only, speculate just for the sake of speculating. My relationship with the former blogger was pretty much limited to online only, though we were on a couple of email lists together, but we didn’t have much online contact. Personally, I don’t think it’s her, basicly because of what you’ve said and then some of the earlier 2007 and earlier posts just don’t match per the timeline for when she disappeared off the Net. I’d just like to know she’s OK, in any case.

  48. Abu Othman says:


    The enemies of Islam have always positioned certain people as Musilms in attempts to create havoc in Muslim communities. It’s an age-old tactic.

  49. Abu Othman says:

    For some reason the quote I wasn’t reply to didn’t show up (above).

    It went “The other issue with Glitnir is that she starts her blog saying that she “never believed in God in the first place.” If that’s the case, then why did she become Muslim in the first place?”

  50. Abu Othman says:

    UmmZaynab = Umm Zayd me thinks.

  51. Indigo Jo says:

    No, she isn’t. Umm Zaynab ran a well-known blog back in 2004-5 or thereabouts called the Islamic Parenting blog. Their styles were totally different.

    Umm Zaid lives (or did, last I heard) in New York. Umm Zaynab lives in the South and her recent comments are traceable to Texas.

  52. UmmZaynab says:

    Woah. I no longer live where I did back then, but Indigo Jo can verify my identity through my email address which is the same one I have commented under for many years. UZ and I were good online friends for many years until we parted ways about a year or so before I stopped blogging.

  53. Salaam Alaikum,

    “Some people seem to only want to believe in God if they can believe that they can see and know everything about God and His wishes spelled out in front of them. “

    Wow. Umm Zaynab, I really feel like you’ve hit the nail on the head there.

    Having looked at the SS archives, I also have a big problem believing it’s the same author as HiG. Allahu Alim, but I believe the writings in SS to be sincere.

  54. ibn Jurayj says:

    “Look her up on facebook under her name and ask her if you’re in doubt as to her apostasy. She also has a more personal blog on tumblr that clearly is hers”

    Care to expand on this or at least give us a clue what to look for.

  55. Indigo Jo says:

    Ibn Jurayj: I wrote back to her to ask those things, but have yet to get a reply.

  56. africana says:

    abu othman,

    i think the evil of sock puppetry is that one starts to suspect even genuine commenators-it has the potential to cause a great deal of distrust. if my suggestions of sock puppetry against HiG were to prove true, they would hint at the author as having a flawed character who would see nothing amiss in spreading flase information or using people’s genuine pain to stir up anti-islamic rhetoric.

  57. africana says:

    to me, though, its hard to believe that someone with such an active online presence would not come back on at least to answer the claims.

    that someone would try to impersonate someone (who was even known outside of the small circle that is the blogosphere) is a bit far fetched.

  58. Umm Yasmin says:

    There is no profit in knowing the real identity/ies behind such blogs, except to satisfy a morbid curiosity and possibly even put their lives in danger if such knowledge were to become widespread and public. You do not need to know the identity of the author, to judge the veracity of the material. As Imam al-Ghazali, may Allah have mercy on him, wrote:

    “It is customary with weaker intellects thus to take the men as criterion of the truth and not the truth as criterion of the men. The intelligent man follows Ali (may God be pleased with him) when he said,Do not know the truth by the men, but know the truth, and then you will know who are truthful’. The intelligent man knows the truth; then he examines the particular assertion. If it is true, he accepts it, whether the speaker is a truthful person or not. Indeed he is often anxious to separate out the truth from the discourses of those who are in error, for he knows that gold is found mixed in gravel with dross. The money-changer suffers no harm if he puts his hand into the counterfeiter’s purse; relying on his skill he picks the true gold from among the spurious and counterfeit coins. It is only the simple villager, not the experienced money-changer, who is made to abstain from dealings with the counterfeiter.” (Faith and Practice of al-Ghazali

  59. africana says:

    i agree that knowing the identity of the author is not essential to making judgements about what is contained in the HiG blog. i think that perhaps where it might be useful is in dissuading muslims from the tendency to lionise certain personalities over others and to base their faith too greatly on those spiritual heroes (as one person put it), rather than on firmer foundations.if the author of HiG were to be the same author as sunni sister(s) it might be a useful reminder of the fact that faith islam is not based on the abilty to wax lyrical about the splendours of religion but on the simple upholding of the five pillars to the best of our abilty. perhaps the knowledge that the author of a blog that focussed much attention on a religion they never fully believed in might be an important reminder of how easikt even as belivers we can exhibit the sgns of hypocrisy, by, for example, being the last to prayer evn whilst extolling its many benefits. but above all,if the authors of hig and ss are the self same person, it would remind us of the undisputable fact that the only real Truth is what is contained in the words of Allah (God) in the pages of the quran and in the example of God’s emissiary (salla Allahu Alehi was salam).

  60. africana says:

    i would say, though, that my own concern with the the here in gltnir blog was with the actual content of the blog and addressing some of the issues raised in it (even if the accounts have been embelised, rather than the identity of the writer. i think the two are separate issues.

  61. A Muslimah says:

    I can’t give her contact details on fb because whatever the case she does have children. But whoever knew her name knows that she has left and also became atheist.

    I was never a friend but someone who had contact and an avid reader of her old blog. With all honesty, I was inspired by a lot of the stuff she posted about ISLAM. I remember the Islamic Womanhood series as some of the best reads of my life. I will forever remember those words and also remember that even Shaytan can speak the truth eloquently. I never looked up to her as someone who was a role model and didn’t agree with a lot of things. I saw her just as a human being who had the ability to write well and inspire. I’ve learned an important lesson through this - that any one of us can be full of Iman one moment and the next moment it can be gone. I don’t know what she was going through but it saddens me that she has left Islam because I know within my heart that Islam IS the solution to our problems. The Umm Zaid I knew was definitely more of a thinker than this person being assumed to be her. I don’t know if this gltnir person is her, although I know there are similarities, but it does not matter to me. This person questions God and not just Islam. If Umm Zaid or anyone else questions God then they really have to start from scratch and their problems are a lot deeper. When I go to this gltnir blog I feel depressed and feel a lot of darkness surrounding the words posted. Maybe it is because I’m a Muslim with Iman (although weak) or maybe it is that I just don’t feel these people are really happy as they claim to be. If it is her, maybe she is happy that she can have her Dr. Pepper as much as she wants now. I don’t know. How can one be truly happy by leaving Islam? There will never be true happiness. You can think all you want that you are happy but it is just your freakin’ ego, and it is very much the ego if you are blaming God for your own problems that you could not solve. I ask God that He saves us from that because it is a scary scary thing. I hope Allah rectifies her life and the life of all of those who leave Islam or question the basis of this deen - Monotheism. There is a God. Look around. Islam isn’t about people, it is about God and knowing that we weren’t placed on this earth by mere coincidence. If you think we were, then my goodness, why live? Why go on? Life would be too depressing to continue on with life without a belief in someone Higher, someone who brings Justice to all the crimes that happen throughout the world, be it by Muslims or not. We need to learn to separate Muslims from Islam. I learned this in the beginning when I became Muslim and even before. Islam will forever remain what it was, but Muslims need Islam and will forever remain imperfect. Such is life. And life isn’t easy.

  62. Anne says:

    Umm Yasmin, Thank you. Whomever it is, were they a well-known personality or not - knowing their IRL identity could put them in danger. An unfortunate reality that we have some very unstable people within the Ummah who may cause him/her/they harm.

    @ Abu Othman “The enemies of Islam have always positioned certain people as Musilms in attempts to create havoc in Muslim communities. It’s an age-old tactic”

    Seriously? I find it hard to believe someone stayed within a faith for 20 years, likely married and had children, to ultimately be a plant for the naysayers. Are the hubby and children plants too? Your narrow minded attitude contributes the reasons people jump ship.

    Apparently you are a guy, so perhaps you can’t understand the systematic undermining of women’ rights (given by Islam) by so many of those who practice our faith. Don’t make it so small. Like they were silly and inadequately faithful to begin with. I can’t imagine how hard it is to readjust after living “the proper” Islamic lifestyle (for women of course, men largely can do as they please) for 2 decades to rejoin the larger world. Particularly in regards to the social isolation/removal of oneself from society that is expected on Muslim women, I bet it is no cake walk. Ladies, you at least know this is true.

    Perhaps if we focus on direct activism to get back on the proper “middle” path within our commnunities and less on who some pissed off ex-Muslim is - we may keep more in the flock. No?

  63. ibn Jurayj says:

    @A Muslima: I wasn’t expecting you to link to her facebook profile or anything, I was hoping for a link to the tumblr blog you mentioned!

  64. A Muslimah says:

    (redacted - IJ)

    When I first was linked to it, I could not believe it was hers and that night I found myself going through it entirely because I could NOT believe that it was. The crap that is on there is jahiliya. I hope God rectifies her affairs for her.

    It will be hard to believe but there plenty of hints there for those that remember her style & her love for certain things & and other things that reveal her identity. Those that know her through FB know about the pink hair.

  65. africana says:

    yes, i didn’t think ibn jurayj, or indeed anyone else was looking for a link to a facebook profile. i think, as with most people, since they didn’t actually know her outside of the web what he was looking for was simply further evidence that the author of the HiG blog was indeed umm zaid.

  66. africana says:

    i agree that there is lot of darkness to be felt in the writings on glitnir. i really hope she can pull herself out of the mire in which she finds herself.

  67. Scooby Doo says:

    I seem to recall that it was the widespread consumption of the flesh of brothers and sisters (metaphorically, obviously) that caused quite a bit of convert disillusionment in the first place.

  68. nobody says:

    Thanks to the internet archive, we can still enjoy by-gone wisdom, regardless of current appearances. This one’s particularly pertinent for all of the above…

    For My Own Good Friday, December 29, 2006 Salaam ‘Alaikum Sometimes I read or hear things that really bother me, and I’ll argue about it in my head for days, even weeks. This is especially the case with blogs, and to a lesser extent, books and magazines. Lately, I’ve come to realize how much of a distraction from Reality this can all be, and have tentatively come to the decision that I need to avoid it. This means no longer reading some blogs, magazines, authors, etc. It means not following that hot link that everyone’s talking about. It doesn’t mean I don’t like the person or wish them ill, but I just can’t stay silent when people speak against Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon him, and a few other things regarding the diyn, and some things regarding politics and society. I have an understanding of the diyn that I need to hold firm to, and part of that seems to be that for the foreseeable future, I avoid / ignore these things. And since I hate debating, the best thing is to not read it in the first place. Satisfaction doesn’t bring the cat back, it just drives him to distraction.


    Strikes me as good advice, personally.

  69. M Risbrook says:

    Have any of you ever met a Muslim turned atheist in the flesh?

  70. Abu Othman says:

    Mathew, Why delete my comment? Who are you scared of offending? Weren’t you complaining of censorship on Deenport not too long ago? What happened? I have a solid point.

  71. Indigo Jo says:

    Because you made wild accusations against someone without any proof whatsoever.

    I’m closing comments on this entry.

  72. Ify says:

    I missed this thread and the controversy, just heard about it today after the Umar Lee video.

  73. Tafi Nami says:

    Surah of The Holy Quran Surah Yasin