ExMuslims in Muslim-majority countries face life, wellness and mental health issues brought on by the trauma of leaving their religion. In the West, there are government programs and health care that can support them; however, in Muslim-majority countries, this is not an option. People who leave Islam often face social isolation, honor killings, or even a state-sanctioned death penalty. Thirteen Muslim Majority states legislate execution as the official punishment.
Leaving any religion or group is hard. But leaving Islam is harder than leaving most faith groups. Islam is not just a religion for many, but a total way of life that comes with a built in community and support network. Leaving is considered apostasy, a serious sin which in many Islamic countries carries the death penalty. Those who do so are often branded with the slur “murtad” (apostate) and considered traitors.
This can lead to a range of problems including:
- Feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem
- Shame and despair
- Suicidal thoughts
Those who leave the faith face:
- Social isolation, as they can be expelled from their communities
- Abandonment by their family or being disowned
- Losing friendships which may date back decades
- Pressure tactics such as harassment to rejoin the faith
- Threats of violence or in extreme cases actual violence from
community and family.