I get asked this question a lot, “What was your family’s response to you leaving Islam?”
So here is my answer.
In summary, I am very lucky to have a loving tolerant family. And my personality is like an open-book, so I could not hide my disbelief. I had to tell everyone.
My dad, he was an Ismaili, and he was a very liberal tolerant easygoing guy. He was hurt but actually had no problem when I left Ismailism to become Sunni Muslim. He told me “However you wish to worship God is your own choice.” He did used to caution me about being too religious, missing out on life due to strict religious doctrine and all that, but he said whatever made me happy made him happy. He was a wonderful dad.
He strongly believed in God, and Aga Khan (The Imam or Leader of Ismailism) but was very skeptical about the nature of God and the hereafter. He used to joke “How do you know God isn’t a black man?” (meaning dont try to tell me this and that about God) and “I want to go to hell with all the naughty girls”. He used to believe that God was in everything, in the flowers in nature etc..
When I told him I was atheist, he was okay with that too. No problem
My mom is a Sunni Muslim, but she is also very tolerant, quite liberal, and I had no issue with me leaving Islam, but she did caution me that the belief in God can be quite helpful when you are in trouble and need help.
I have one brother. He converted to Sunni Islam one year after me due to my dawah (preaching) and insistence that this is the truth did not agree with me leaving Islam. He suggested I speak to an imam but we did not personally discuss my reasons for leaving the religion and we have never discussed it.
My wife was a practicing Muslim and I was cautious, as I knew that she would be pressured by the religion and by others to leave me, since I was an apostate. Thankfully that did not happen, we were able to live together in peace despite our differences. We have many discussions and try to learn from each other.
My kids, well I will let them decide for themselves what to follow. I highly doubt there is any reason they will follow Islam after seeing their father who was so religious and then left the religion completely continue to follow it. In my opinion the reasons for not believing are much stronger than believing. They are quite happy that I am no longer such a strict religious dad, and from their perspective those rituals were difficult and cumbersome anyway. I am perfectly fine if they want to be Muslim or whatever they want to be. I will teach them to be skeptical about all claims and to investigate the evidence. Take a look at this video called “Grooming Minds” on why this is important.
You are welcome to ask questions, but for my family’s privacy I may not answer them.
Reflections on my dad’s passing:
This video is an interview with my wife:
And here is how my community responded to me leaving Islam: