Losing Faith – Why I Left Islam

With guest Celina Hanif who shares her tumultuous journey of how and why she lost the love for Islam.

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In this new episode, we talk to Celina Hanif about what caused her to leave Islam and how she found her way back again. We discuss what the Muslim community can do to support those having a crisis of faith, especially young people and how we as individual Muslims all have a role to play. Celina Hanif is a Master practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming and hypnosis. She is also a divorce coach who helps South Asians recreate, rebuild and restore their lives post-divorce. She is also a full-time mum and home educator to her four boys.

  • Salaams and welcome! Today’s episode is about when somebody leaves Islam, how they can find their way back.
  • Islam is the fastest growing religion in the UK – but while we all know how many Muslims there are in Britain – around 3 million to be precise – what people are rarely aware of, is the number of Muslims who actually leave Islam.
  • Today we will be talking to Celina Hanif about why she left Islam and then how she found herself back again. We’ll be touching upon what is it in our community that doesn’t seem to be supporting young people when they have a crisis of faith and what we should be doing more of.
  • Celina Hanif is a Master practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming and hypnosis. Celina is a divorce coach who helps South Asians recreate, rebuild and restore their lives post-divorce. She is also a full-time mum and home educator to her four boys.

Some questions we asked:

  • Celina, when was the first time you felt disconnected to Islam?
  • Would you say the fact that your siblings left Islam, encouraged you to do the same?
  • When bringing up your children, what do you to ensure that they feel safe in their deen and that you can minimise the risks of them leaving the deen?
  • Would you say education had a part to play in your reasons for leaving Islam?
  • We have got to ask ourselves, if Islam is the fastest growing religion in the UK, what’s being done to support the new Muslims as well as the existing Muslims?
  • Main issue seems to be about people/Muslims rather than Islam and Allah – what does the Muslim community need to do to support people who are struggling? Is the onus on the community as a whole or on individual Muslims?
  • We’ve had influencers taking the hijab off or we’ve had Muslim gays. it happens. it happens and that’s reality of life. it’s important that we talk about it. It’s important that we start to think about the ways in which we can support Muslims.

Some points we made:

  • When somebody’s appearance is not looking traditionally Islamic, or they are doing things that are against Islam, immediately we’re like ‘Oh, they’ve left their deen.’ They have left some aspects of the deen, but not the whole faith so we’ve got to be really careful not to judge them by dooming them.
  • Tasneem: Us as parents, we also need to be taught and equipped with how to kind of what language to use when we, when we talk to our kids about these things. I definitely know that I don’t know. We’re quite traditional.
  • Nafisa: The more I gain knowledge, I see the design and creation of Allah, and find that it cements my faith further than question it. I truly believe, growing up, our curiosity and inquisitive minds should be welcomed and nurtured.

Snippets of Celina’s convo:

“Now I try to look at the patterns of my childhood and how that shaped me and have that then led to me really wanting to discover who I am and where I fit in.

I was their full-time carer. And that put a lot of pressure on me. When I was in uni, I thought I’d explore Islam.

Islam wasn’t really imposed on us in the family. My siblings had a very liberal upbringing. It wasn’t imposed, but I was curious about Islam and I attended some lectures and that was the point where I didn’t really fit in and I felt some sort of judgment from people maybe because the way I was dressed…

I felt rejected by Muslims. And I think that might’ve been the straw that broke the camel’s back…I didn’t want to conform any more.

 

So, I spent the next four years exploring different faiths, different cultures.

 

Me leaving Islam, it wasn’t because of what was logical and what made sense. It was more for social acceptance.

The expectations are too high, that what’s expected from them is almost perfection. You’re wearing too much makeup. Or you’re wearing the wrong clothing. You’re not supposed to travel without a man. You shouldn’t speak to people of the opposite sex and you know, the list goes on.”

References made:

  • Aliyah Saleem who co-authored a book called Leaving Faith Behind said that the main factors which contribute to the loss of faith is education and for her, though she was practising growing up, her inquisitive mind was the cause of her leaving Islam.
  • Leaving Faith Behind: The journeys and perspectives of people who have chosen to leave Islam, co-authored by Fiyaz Mughal and Aliyah Saleem. Darton,Longman & Todd Ltd: UK (27 Mar. 2018)

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