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Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Abdullah Al Masud: ‘Islam is a prison without bars and borders’

FFRF sent a $5,000 stipend this spring to Abdullah as part of its “secular underground railway.”

By Abdullah Al Masud

I was born in 1985 into an ultra-orthodox Muslim family. My father, a lifelong Muslim cleric, worked at different mosques throughout Bangladesh. From my childhood on, I studied in Qawmi Madrasah, an orthodox Islamic education institute with branches in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India.

Qawmi Madrasah is designed like a boarding school. Madrasah provided very little freedom, either mental or physical. We were taught and forced to recite the Quran and the Hadith from dawn to dusk. The madrasah is nothing but a systematic brainwashing machine, where a young undeveloped mind is forged

Abdullah Al Masud
Students study at Qawmi Madrasah, an orthodox Islamic education institute in Bangladesh. (Photo courtesy of United News of Bangladesh)

into a sixth-century primitive Arab mind. We are taught to see how the sixth-century tribal desert man used to see, thus it is very difficult for one to come out of that trance, let alone leave such an idea.

Muslim men are deprived of sex, thus Qawmi Madrasah is a pedophilia factory. Child sex is a common phenomenon almost in madrasahs, where children are sexually abused and mentally tortured. It teaches to hate those outside of Islam, both individually and collectively. Islam is a prison without bars and borders that imprisons humanity.

Yet, major political leaders from all political parties in Bangladesh promote the Qawmi Madrasah and encourage Islamic clerics to propagate radical Islam throughout the community just to turn people’s eyes away from development and free thinking.

After graduation from Qawmi Madrasha, I worked as an imam in many mosques for 12 years and was a principal of the famous Qawmi Madrasah in the Dhaka Cantonment. But I have always had a relentless quest for answers to the millions of questions that randomly popped in my head. Because of that frequent questioning, I suffered many brutal beatings at the hands of my madrasah teacher and also from my own parents, but I just couldn’t simply stop. My compulsive nature of asking “Why this? Why that?” emotionally drained me, though I still had faith in Islam.

Reforming Islam

So, I wondered how Islam could be reformed. I took refuge in books. I read whatever I could put my hands on, whenever and wherever I found them. In madrasah, the only language we were expected to learn is God’s language — Arabic. There were a lot of books and news I came across in regard to freethinking. Most of it was in Bengali. I had to smuggle Bengali books into the madrasha. Without any institutional support, I taught myself enough English to where I could at least read and understand the basics.

From the get-go, I knew how vile Islam could be, but I just couldn’t get out of it because Islam permeates all spheres of existence. But I truly believed in not harming any person, no matter their caste, creed or religion. I was searching for the good things of Islam that could be compatible with civilization.

Finally, I went to Mecca as a pilgrim in 2016 to find out if there was any better version of Islam than what was practiced in Bangladesh. I prayed days at a time for salvation. However, my salvation never came. The almighty’s promise always came empty, devoid of love, just like the desert is devoid of water, thus life. I realized humanism is the only religion in the universe and I left Islam.

I have weighed every opportunity to speak without compromising my personal safety, but Islam brainwashes everyone to a point that no one is as important as Muhammad. The love of Muhammad supersedes all forms of love that exist in any human relationship. Whomever is perceived to have strayed is immediately purged by death. It doesn’t matter who they are — even one’s wife and children eavesdrop and betray their relation for the love of Prophet Muhammad and his teaching. I knew, but never could fathom such betrayal until it happened to me.

Threats on my life

When my wife found out about my views, the reaction was immediate and swift. I was given an ultimatum: either renounce my view or get a divorce. I still love my wife, with whom I have two beautiful children. I knew if my wife leaked any such information to any of her friends or anyone whom she thinks she could trust, that would mean the immediate death penalty. Yet, still I tried to stay with my family. Then one morning I received a text stating: “Mr. Masud, come back to Islam or we will kill you, just like how the bloggers were killed.”

Coincidently, I had already decided that I must leave if I hoped to stay alive. So, I bought a ticket to get away. I received that serious threat six days prior to my departure.

I called my contact and asked for advice. I was advised to leave immediately, whatever way I could. That day I was free, as if I was a newborn taking the first breath out my mother’s womb. I flew to India and started my new life. I have been trying to alert the Muslim community through a YouTube channel. Now I am receiving death threats on a regular basis here, also.

My goal is to get the imam out of Islam. If I am able to get these religious leaders out, then the students will follow, and will provoke questions in them, which will eventually lead them to the truth that Islam is not what they are told or know.

I left my two beautiful children so that they won’t get deprived and blindfolded by the religion they think is full of piety. I believe there is no country in Southeast Asia that can offer me enough security where I can write for the rest of my life. Ever since I left my native country, I was lucky to have some well-wisher who stood next to people like me as a backbone in all phases.

My earnest humble request to the international community is to grant people like myself a safe place and financial support.

A modern-day Islamic renaissance is about to take place in the Indian subcontinent and ground zero is Bangladesh.

Voices from people like us must be heard while Islam metastasizes.

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