A 16 year old Muslim Apostate sends MARIAS her story

How would you expect a normal dad to react? Congratulate his daughter on reaching this milestone in her life? See her happiness and smile? Be thrilled at the prospect of future children, marriage, albeit slightly far ahead? Be nervous and hope it works out, wanting to protect her from heartache?

That’s what normal fathers do. I do not have a normal father.

“I do not have a normal father.”

I hinted during his numerous attempts to harass me I was dating by texting “I’ve met someone”. A fairly ambiguous statement. Not explicit. I was shaking, my breaths coming fast. I was more nervous than I was telling him this than my apostasy, which is saying something.

This was the dad who loved to see his daughter obscure her body in a black solid mass, eyes, hands and all. Who pressured her to wear the hijab and abaya. Who threw a tantrum if a strand of hair was out of place, who constantly kept tabs on my movements in case I was at a boy’s house. Who smashed a vase against the wall because I had a male friend at school, who was gay. He knew that. Yet he still persecuted me. When I was a chaste virgin, and totally innocent.

I had my heart in my mouth as I clicked “sent”. Straightaway he was on the phone, demanding answers, calling me a whore, asking me who I was with, when did I meet him, was I still ‘pure’, what religion he was. He ended up slamming the phone down in pure rage and physically shaking, he told me.

He called later and questioned me to the point I gave him the answer he was looking for. ‘I mean, I met a friend’. He asked if I was sure. I said yes. I didn’t trust my virginity obsessed dad to not hurt me. His relief was palpable in his voice. He cried out thank god!

“Why must we be subjected to how we ruined your honour, and let the family down, for simply falling in love and being in love with life and the world?”

I didn’t expect anything better. What is it about your daughters that threaten you so much? Why must we be subjected to how we ruined your honour, and let the family down, for simply falling in love and being in love with life and the world?

I realised my father, despite his proclamations of acceptance of my apostasy, critical nature of Islam, and atheism, was merely born out of a desire to repair his tattered honour and reputation, convert me back and marry me off. He let slip when he said ‘I know Islam is still in your heart, I will make you see it’.

It’s not. I don’t want Islam.

I don’t want to be married. I want to fall in love and love my life.

I don’t want to subscribe to your tribal ancient notions of family honour. I am a separate entity, I’m my own person. You respect me, or I leave. Too long I’ve cowered to men’s demands and kept myself away from potential partners.

I’m not the Muslim niqabi girl I was anymore. I don’t want an expensive arranged marriage at 17 to my first cousin you chose, dad. I don’t want to bear the children you wanted me to, and I don’t want the names you picked out for them.

“I want to spend my life living on my own terms”

I want to spend my life living on my own terms, falling in love, getting my heart broken and finding something akin to the One.

I’m not your slave anymore.

Wake up and realise. I am beautiful, I am bold, I am brave. I broke my shackles you placed on me. I am free.