Islamic atheism

Islamic atheism (Mecca)
An Islamic atheist (ex-Muslim atheist) taking c.2010 photo of a note, which reads “proud to be atheist”, in front of the Kaaba (black building), at the center of Islam's most sacred mosque, Al-Masjid al-Haram, in Mecca, al-Hejaz, Saudi Arabia, the place where Muslims believe Adam and Eve were created by Allah, which was lost during Noah’s flood, but rebuilt by Abraham and Ishmael, during which time an angel brought Abraham a “black stone” (Ѻ), which is now set into the Eastern corner of the Kaaba.
In atheism, Islamic atheism, aka Muslim atheism, Arab atheism, or Persian atheism, or middle eastern atheism, ex-Muslim atheism, as contrasted with Christian atheism, Jewish atheism, or Hindu atheism, refers to disbelief in god from the point of view of one coming from an Islamic religious background or Islamic cultural milieu; the term “ex-Muslim atheist” is sometimes used as an auto-label by this type of atheist.

In Islam, atheists, among whom are mostly closet atheists (as open atheists in the Muslim world tend to be killed) are categorized as kafir (كافر), which carries connotations of blasphemy and disconnection from the Islamic community; a term, to note, that is also used to describe polytheists (shirk), and that translates roughly as "denier" or "concealer". In Arabic, "atheism" is generally translated ilhad (إلحاد), although this also means "heresy". (Ѻ) In the 14th century, the top three heretics or Islamic atheists were al-Marri (c.1020), aka the "Arab Lucretius", Ibn al Rawandi (c.870), a three impostors advocate, and Abu Hayyan (923-1023) (Ѻ), noted for his dialogue (Ѻ) on “why atheists do good work?” if, e.g., they have they have no fear of a final reckoning, do not seek to be rewarded by god or even expect even to return to god? The gist of their atheism rep was summarized as follows:

“The heretics in Islam are three: Ibn al Rawandi, Abu Hayyan al Tawhidi, and Abu Alaa al-Ma’arri–of them, mostly Abu Hayyan, because they (attempt to) edify grandiloquence but in fact they babble.”
— Ibn al-Jawziyyah (c.1325) [10]

In 2004, Jennifer Hecht, likewise, groups al-Rawandi, al-Tauhidi, and al-Ma’arri as the "three worst zindiqs" [anti-religionists] of Islam, according to the Islamic tradition. [11]

In 724, Iraqi freethinker and materialist Djad ibn Dirham (715-724) was a labeled “zindiq” (heretic); some of his crimes included: denying the Muslim concept of god with attributes; example quote: [1]

God did not speak to Moses, nor take Abraham as a friend.”

Dirham became the first person to be executed for the heresy crime of “zandaqa” (heresy).

In 760, Ibn al-Muqaffa was executed for the crime of Manicheanism, attacking Islam, its prophet, and its notion of god. [2]

In 772, Ibn Abi aI-Awja (c.720-772) was executed for believing in things such as the eternity of the world, that the “skies are empty” (Ѻ), for denying the existence of creator, and for questioning the theory of providence, e.g. “why are there catastrophes, epidemics, if god is good?”, and for heckling Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (702-765) during his lectures by yelling (Ѻ) out “nonsense!”. [3]

In c.780, Iranian poet Abu Nuwas (756-814) was a famous religious doubter who, as the anecdote goes, was at his mosque one day listening to the Iman reading out verse one of surah 109: “Say, O! you unbelievers …”, to which Nuwas yelled out “Here I am!” He was exiled and imprisoned, where he dereacted (died). Nuwas wrote about sexual passion, homosexuality, masturbation, among other taboo topics, and was considered a genius poet. [4]

In c.870, Ibn al-Rawandi, a former Shia Muslim turned free thinker, became the first "radical atheist" of Islam.

In c.900, Zakariya Razi began to openly question the newly formed Islamic religion; for example:

“If the people of this [Muhammad] religion are asked about the proof of the soundness of their religion, they flare up, get angry and spill blood of whoever confronts them with this question. They forbid rational speculation, and strive to kill their adversaries. This is why the truth became thoroughly silenced and concealed.”

In c.1120, Persian philosopher Omar Khayyam stated is disbelief in the Koran as follows: (Ѻ)

“The Koran! Well, come put me to the test; lovely old book in hideous error drest. Believe me, I can quote the Koran too; the unbeliever knows his Koran best. And do you think that unto such as you, a maggot-minded, starved, fanatic crew, god gave the secret, and denied it me? Well, well, what matters it! Believe that too.”

In c.1280, Jewish physician-philosopher Ibn Kammuna (c.1210-1284) penned Examination of the Three Faiths, a religion-critical book, written in Arabic, thematically stylized as "deism bordering on agnosticism", which appeared in Baghdad, wherein he challenged the legitimacy of Islam where he reasoned that incompatibility of sharia with the principles of justice undercuts Muhammad's claims of being a perfect man and stated that people convert to Islam from ulterior motive; for example: [5]

“That is why, to this day we never see anyone converting to Islam unless in terror, or in quest of power, or to avoid heavy taxation, or to escape humiliation, or if taken prisoner, or because of infatuation with a Muslim woman, or for some similar reason. Nor do we see a respected, wealthy, and pious non-Muslim well versed in both his faith and that of Islam, going over to the Islamic faith without some of the aforementioned or similar motives.”

In circa 1960, Salmon Rushdie (1947-), as a teen, demonstrated his rejection of Islam by eating a ham sandwich, and waited in vain for the thunderbolt from heaven. In 1988, Rushdie published his The Satanic Verses, which, in the Muslim world, drew accusations of blasphemy and unbelief; the Ayatollah of Iran issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill him, which was backed by the Iranian government until 1998.

“I’m a hardline atheist, I have to say.”
Salman Rushdie (2006), “Interview with Bill Moyers” (Ѻ)

In 1995, Ibn Warraq, after being "shaken loose in his faith by the Rushdie affair", as Christopher Hitchens puts it, penned his Why I am Not a Muslim, stylized on Bertrand Russell's Way I am Not a Christian (1925), wherein he begins with Ibn Kammuna, and goes onto explain how he lost his faith.

In 2002, actress Ayaan Ali became an atheist, in May, following 9/11, when she looked at herself in the mirror and asked “do I really believe in God?” (V); on 29 Aug 2004, her film Submission (V) — done while working with writer and director Theo van Gogh (who was shot 8 times, semi-decapitated, and stabbed in the chest, on 2 Nov 2004, at 9AM while biking to work), wherein she wrote the script and provided the voiceover — was aired on the Dutch public broadcasting network, which criticized the treatment of women in Islamic society, which was juxtaposed with passages from the Qur'an, were scenes of actresses portraying Muslim women suffering abuse, and an apparently nude actress dressed in a semi-transparent burqa was shown with texts from the Qur'an, written on her skin, interpreted as justifying the subjugation of Muslim women.

In 2003, Raymond Converse, an American educational legal philosopher (Ѻ), in his chapter “Atheism and Islam”, digressed on Islam vs Judaism in respect to civil rights as atheism would see things. [6]

In 2009, Egyptian-born German scholar Hamed Abdel-Samad (Ѻ) began destroying leftist Islamic defenders, via logic, Quranic quotes (e.g. the Quran twice mentions beheading non-believers), history, and erudition. (Ѻ)

In 2012, Heina Dadabhoy (1988-), an American ex-Muslim, who in 2007 (age 19) starting becoming active in atheist organizations and events (Ѻ) around Orange County, CA, started a Kickstarter (Ѻ) effort for a book entitled Skeptic’s Guide to Islam, raising about 10K, (supposedly due out Dec 2015); in 2014 she interviewed (Ѻ) with Matt Dillahunty. (Ѻ)(Ѻ)

In 2013, Sarah Haider (c.1988-), a Pakistani-born American ex-Muslim, co-founded Ex-Muslims of North America, where she advocates for the acceptance of religious dissent and works to create local support communities for those who have left Islam. Haider, at the circa age of 13 began to lose her faith when a “militant atheist”, as she says (Ѻ), in 2015 discussion with atheist Dave Rubin, gave her printed pages from the Quran, of some horrible passages, and said “look, this is what you believe”, after which, in order to prove the militant atheist wrong, she began to investigate things, became an atheist; in 2015 gave a decent icebreaker “Islam and the Necessity of Liberal Critique” (Ѻ) speech at the American Humanist Association.
Islam (hurt feelings)
A 2015 Atheist Republic image tweet (Ѻ) of a Muslim getting his feelings hurt per cartoon drawings of Muhammad, an act forbidden, not by the Quran, but by certain Islamic books (Ѻ)(Ѻ), and the rebuttal act of stabbing the cartoonist.

In 2014, Iranian-born Canadian ex-Muslim atheist Armin Navabi (Ѻ), curator of, in his Why There Is No God: Simple Responses to 20 Common Arguments for the Existence of God, did some basic god theory debunking, the first chapter, e.g., puts William Paley, and his watch analogy, against John Conway, and his game of life program. The second chapter points our Biblical, e.g. that god told Moses that created plants before the sun (Genesis 1:1-19), and Quranic errors, god told Muhammed that the earth is flat with the sun rising and setting in particular parts of the earth (Surah 18:86). [7]

In 2015, atheist Sam Harris and former Islamic radical Maajid Nawaz, in their Islam and the Future of Tolerance, outlined a dialogue on the intersection of Islam, atheism, and modernity, or something along these lines. [8]

In 2016, Ali Rizvi, in his The Atheist Muslim, outlined a deconversion from Saudi religious ideologies to Canadian-American secularism. [9]

In 2018, Harris Sultan (Ѻ), a Pakistani-born Australian ex-Muslim atheist (Ѻ), in an “Atheism vs Islam” debate (Ѻ), opened to a coherent argument for secularism based societies in place of “fairy tale” gods based religion run societies.

The following are related quotes:

“The occupation of our brains by gods is the worst form of occupation.”
— Abdullah al-Qasemi (c.1940) (Ѻ)

“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European - especially the spiteful and filthy French or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State … kill him in any manner or way however it may be.”
— Abu Mohammad al-Adnani (2014) (Ѻ)

“There is no god! There is no god! I came to America so I could say that. In my country [Iran], they will kill me if I say that.”
— Sadegh Simorgh (2014), response following query by Libb Thims of “Are you a Muslim?”, to which he first responded “On my ID card”, to which Thims responded “What do you mean?”, Oct 31

1. (a) Warraq, Ibn. (1995). Why I Am Not a Muslim (pg. #). Prometheus Books, 2003.
(b) Hecht, Jennifer M. (2003). Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas (pgs. 222-23). HarperOne.
(c) Zindiq – Wikipedia.
2. (a) Hecht, Jennifer M. (2003). Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas (pgs. 222-23). HarperOne.
(b) Ibn al-Muqaffa – Wikipedia.
3. Hecht, Jennifer M. (2003). Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas (pgs. 222-23). HarperOne.
4. (a) Hecht, Jennifer M. (2003). Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas (pgs. 222-23). HarperOne.
(b) Abu Nuwas – Wikipedia.
5. (a) Warraq, Ibn. (2003). Why I Am Not a Muslim. Prometheus Books.
(b) Ibn Kammuna – Wikipedia.
6. Converse, Raymond W. (2003). Atheism as a Positive Force (§11: Atheism and Islam, pg. 221-). Algora Publishing.
7. Navabi, Armin. (2014). Why There Is No God: Simple Responses to 20 Common Arguments for the Existence of God (eB). Atheist Republic.
8. Harris, Sam, Mawaz, Maajid. (2015). Islam and the Future of Tolerance: a Dialogue. Harvard University Press.
9. Rizvi, Ali A. (2016). The Atheist Muslim: a Journey from Religion to Reason (Amz). St. Martin’s Press.
10. Kamel, Marwan. (2015). “The 11th Century Poet Who Pissed of al-Qaeda” (Ѻ),, Feb 2.
11. Hecht, Jennifer M. (2003). Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas (pgs. 231-33). HarperOne.

Further reading
● Stroumsa, Sarah. (1999). Freethinkers of Medieval Islam: Ibn al-Rawandi, Abu Bakr al-Razi, and Their Impact on Islamic Thought. Brill.
● Al-Rawandi, Ibn. (2000). Islamic Mysticism: a Secular Perspective. Prometheus Books.
● Whitaker, Brian. (2014). Arabs Without God: Atheism and Freedom of Belief in the Middle East. Amazon.
● Kilpatrick, William. (2015). Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West (Amz). Ignatius.
● Tzortzis, Hamza A. (c.2017). The Divine Reality: God, Islam, and the Mirage of Atheism. Publisher.
● Wadi, Adam. (2017). Atheism for Muslims: a Guide to Questioning Islam, Religion, and God, for a Better Future (Amz). Publisher.

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