Apr 4, 2018
Imtiaz Shams spent half of his life growing up in Saudi Arabia as a devout Muslim—visiting Mecca every year, praying, fasting, memorizing the Quran, and devouring books on Islam like the Riyad us-Saliheen, a collection of hadith (transmitted sayings and actions) of the Prophet Muhammad and his Sahaaba (companions). He moved with his family to the UK just before 9/11, and it wasn’t long before he was being called “terrorist” by the other kids at school, who would bully him and draw bombs and explosives on his clothes—which only made him hold on to his identity even more strongly. As he grew older, though, his critical thinking skills kicked in, and he stopped believing. He felt like an “alien in his skin,” as a friend described it, and felt isolated and alone—that is, until he found an online community of ex-Muslims going through the same thing. With his friend Aliyah Saleem, he now runs a group for ex-Muslims like himself looking for community and support. The group is called “Faith to Faithless,” and it is growing to this day. The message to questioning and ex-Muslims? “You are not alone.” We speak to Imtiaz about his incredible story and his amazing work helping the most vulnerable “minority within a minority” in the Muslim world.
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Faith to Faithless: FaithToFaithless.com
Imtiaz on Twitter: @ImtiShams
VICE documentary "Rescuing Ex-Muslims: Leaving Islam" featuring Imtiaz: https://youtu.be/O1lnxUXWGgE
Imtiaz's article on VICE: https://news.vice.com/article/why-i-left-islam-and-now-help-others-who-are-doing-the-same