I want to know how to heal from the religious abuse I’ve been through in my life. I can’t find any resources online for Muslims. Most people I have read had issue with religious abuse have left. I don’t know how to heal that part. Maybe if I seek a professional they might tell me to leave the religion entirely. I’m not at ease, and I have been thinking a lot about leaving.
I am not an expert on abuse, so it is up to you to judge whether my suggestions are good or not. What you referred to as ‘religious abuse’ is actually the abuse of religion. Islam is a small religion that asks very few things of us; it asks to believe in God and the Day of Judgment, and to pray and to fast, and it asks us to be kind and forgiving. Beyond these, it leaves most aspects of life to our own judgment.
If you look at actual Muslims, you will find that among them are certain extremely cruel people, and others who are extremely kind, lenient and forgiving, and both groups may claim to represent ‘true’ Islam. Instead of letting people tell you what Islam is and is not, read the Quran for yourself and come up with a version of Islam that is as kind and civilized as you wish it to be.
As for getting over past abuse, the best solution I can recommend is to read books. Read the Victorian classics like Middlemarch and Pride and Prejudice. Think of the kindest and most admirable people portrayed in these books, and you will discover that these people could have been Muslim without becoming any worse. There are Muslims who are the same way, so if there is a problem, it is not with Islam, it is with humans and their cruelty and selfishness.
As soon as you get out of the small core of Islam (as defined in the Quran), everything gets fuzzy and contradictory. Almost anything negative you hear about Islam from this and that hadith narration or anecdote about the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his companions is counterbalanced by other narrations that often directly contradict it. There is an ‘authentic’ hadith narration that says a woman, dog or donkey passing in front of a man who is praying will nullify his prayer. There is another ‘authentic’ hadtih narration in which Aisha (wife of the Prophet) gets angry when she hears this hadith, she thinks it is nonsense and is not afraid to say so.
Instead of thinking of Islam as a burden that is placed on you, think of it as a tool for worshiping God. Imagine if you are not Muslim and do not belong to any religion, but you believe in God and wish to worship Him in the best way possible and gain His approval. What would be the best way to do this? Read the Quran and you will find the answer in it. The Quran says in chapter 20:
2. We have not send down this Quran to distress you.
3. Only a remembrance for the one who fears.
4. Something sent down from the One who created the earth and the high heavens.
5. The Most Gracious established Himself upon the Throne.
6. For Him is what is in the heavens, and what is on the earth, and what is beneath the soils.
7. If you speak aloud, then He knows what is secret and what is hidden.
8 God, there is no god except Him, for Him are the most beautiful names.
Instead of thinking about leaving Islam, imagine that you are an irreligious person who believes in God. Approach the Quran this way and do the minimum it asks of you. As for Muslims who are abusive in the name of religion, they have nothing to do with you, and you have nothing to do with them. This is your own business and your own journey. Find your own meaning in the Quran.
If you believe in God in your heart, then there is nothing to ‘leave’. Islam is here merely to help you improve your relationship with God. If you have been taught that God is cruel, harsh and demanding, think of your favorite characters from the films and novels you have read, and know that God is kinder and more understanding than them. When a negative thought about God enters your head, think of Dumbledore, Gandalf, Aragorn or any other imaginary or real-life character you love and admire, and remind yourself that God is better than them. In this way perhaps you can slowly be healed.
It is easy to think the best of God once you compare Him to your favorite humans and remind yourself than He is even better than these people. If these people could never hurt you, if you think they would show you infinite love and respect if you were around them, then think of God the same way, and in this way heal your relationship with Him.