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Part 2: Into the Darkness

Around the age of 13, I began to question my beliefs. As a Muslim, I was not required to attend Religion class, so I would sit quietly in the back of the room, catching up on homework, while passively listening to their discussions.

One day, I approached the teacher after class.

“Is God All-Knowing?” I asked him inquisitively.

“Yes, of course,” he answered.

“And Jesus is God, right?”

“Yes,” he nodded.

“So, if Jesus is God, and God is All-Knowing, then why didn’t he know he was supposed to die on the cross? Why did he cry, ‘My Lord, my Lord, why have you forsaken me’? Didn’t he know that was his purpose on this Earth? To die on the cross for our sins?”

He stood staring at me, speechless.

“Err, well, err…. how about I ask the church preacher and get back to you on that?” and he turned, and quickly scuffled away.

I stood there, frustrated.

They taught of blind faith, but I couldn’t just believe. In science, we were taught deductive reasoning—to use logic and critical thinking to form a coherent conclusion from an argument. How could I just blindly believe, and not question anything?

My classmates were now dating. They hung out at the mall or went to the movies in mixed-gender groups. But we weren’t allowed to be friends with boys. When we questioned why, we were told, “You will go to Jahannam (Hell) if you talk to a boy.” When we asked why we could wear shorts for PE, but not every day to school, we were told, “Because it’s gunna (sinful), and you will go to Jahannam (Hellfire).”

God was Angry, God was Vengeful. Everything was "gunna" (sinful), and Allah was to be feared.

Why should I fear a God who doesn’t even exist in my life? Where was God when my parents got divorced? Where was God when my mother got sick? Where was God? Where was He?! If there was a God, He was cruel and merciless.

And where were all these rules coming from?

“The Quran,” they said.

The Quran? The Quran was nothing but a book written in a foreign language, collecting dust on our bookshelf. I barely knew how to read Arabic, and only knew three surahs (chapters) by heart. Why would I care about a book I could barely even read or understand?

Soon, I found myself in a downward spiral. I didn’t believe in God, but my family did. According to their version of Islam, I would be damned to Hell, no hope for redemption. My soul could not be saved, so why bother even trying. I was in a state of despair, and it sent me deeper and deeper on a Godless path.

I started hanging out with the punk rock kids. The kids who were lost like me. I dyed purple streaks in my hair, crowd surfed at shows/concerts, became your typical delinquent teenager. I kept up my grades so my parents wouldn't be too worried, but when I wasn't home, I was somebody else.

Then one day, I got caught ditching school, and my world came crashing down.

My mother’s family consulted with my father, and it was decided:

I would pack my things and go live with my father. I would no longer attend my high school. I would no longer see my friends. I would no longer graduate early.

I was already doomed to Hell, but now they were punishing me with Hell on Earth!

“I want to die!” I screamed into my pillow that night.

I had no one. Not my family, not my sisters, not even my friends. No one could help me. I fell to my knees, in despair. I looked up at the ceiling, and between sobs, I cried out, “If You exist, help me!”