Dionisio (Denis) Giron -
My testimony already appears in Ibn Warraq's
anthology on apostates, so I will only summarize
here (and add a few things, as I presently
feel that if I could edit my testimony in Warraq's
book, I would).
I came from a liberal Christian background,
but in 1996 (at the very end of high-school)
I became part of the New York City Church of
Christ (which is, for the most part, a fundamentalist
Evangelical sect/cult). Very quickly, however,
I began to have doubts due to a number of issues
(on the one hand I wondered about the Church's
approach dietary habits and, to a lesser degree,
the sabbath, and on the other hand I began
to be troubled by the doctrine of the Trinity
and apparent "contradictions" in
By the time I reached college, I already began
to become interested in Islam (this was brought
on by a combination of Ahmed Deedat videos,
websites that attempted to establish the veracity
of Islam over Christianity, and discussions
with various Muslims I had met at the City
University of New York). Looking back, I'm
a bit ashamed of how easily I believed the
dawaganda I read (at the time I was particularly
interested in the claim that the Bible predicted
the coming of Muhammad).
However (and there are many who will say something
similar), while I was very pleased with Ahmed Deedat's
onslaughts on the Bible, I began to get the feeling
that the ahaadeeth could not stand up to the criteria
Deedat demanded the Bible be judged by. As a result,
I began to seriously doubt Orthodox Islam as well,
before I even had a chance to convert! Ironically,
I met a Submitter (i.e. a hadith-rejecting Muslim)
at school, and he introduced me to other Submitters
(a bunch of whom went to my college).
Very quickly I embraced the version of Islam espoused
by the Submitters (note however that the group I was
associated with was not connected to Rashad Khalifa's
group, though I imagine they got the idea from his
group). Once a Muslim, I set out to debate Christians
on the internet (mainly via AOL chats and instant messages,
though to a lesser degree via usenet), hoping to show
the "Tri-Theists" the new truth I had discovered.
However, there was a perverse nature to my behavior,
as I was anxious to bring the Christians to Islam,
but not as anxious to do such with the so-called "Sunni
pagans". We would sit around and say many negative
things about Sunni Muslims (even criticizing the shahaada,
which I never recited because it was a statement of
shirk developed by the innovating Sunni pagans), but
not once did I ever make a face-to-face attempt to
convince one on campus that he was off the path (even
more ironic, and blatantly contradictory, we interpreted
verses in Soorat al-Baqara and Soorat al-Maida as teaching
that Christians and Jews could go to Jannah, yet we
simultaneously thought that "Sunni Pagans" were
on their way to Jahannam, with the Hindus and Atheists).
We were simply a small close-knit group of heterodox
Muslims who made a real effort to be invisible to the
Orthodox Muslims (in fact, not once while I considered
myself a Muslim did I ever go to an MSA meeting!).
By 1999, I started having doubts after taking a class
on Hinduism. While reading the colorful stories about
castles made of bees wax, Siva replacing Ganesh's head
with that of an elaphant, or Hannuman jumping over
the ocean, I suffered a moment of doubt. I was in the
middle of laughing at the stories and silently mocking
them, when suddenly it hit me that they are no more
absurd than the belief that Jesus was born of a virgin,
that Moses split the ocean and turned a stick into
a snake, or that Solomon had conversations with animals.
Once the doubt set in, the flood gates were open.
I suddenly realized that the only reason I converted
to Islam in the first place was because I had doubts
about specific parts of Christianity, but still wanted
to hold on the core myths and legendary figures. Islam
provided me with a solution to that problem. Not once
had I ever questioned the stories in Islam. Now I began
to doubt them all.
I spent the fall of 1999 in a fog, not sure if I was
an Atheist or a Muslim. I even began to put forth Atheistic
arguments before officially considering myself an Atheist.
It was when a disappointed friend asked me "are
you an Atheist?" that I responded with "yeah,
I guess so." The next day I was in Thompkin's
Square Park and the full-implications of Atheism hit
me: there is no God. I took a deep breath, and looked
around me, and a very beautiful feeling came over me.
While I don't claim that Atheism is the cure for depression
-in fact I know that some people have sunk into depression
after becoming Atheists- it is nonetheless a fact that
I spent most of my life depressed (even when I was
a Christian and Muslim), yet when I went Atheist in
1999, my depression vanished, and has yet to return.
Regardless of that, the fact is nonetheless that I
had reached a point of no return - I could never go
back to believing such fantastic stories (just as we
immediately doubt the reliability of tabloid newspapers
dedicated to stories about UFOs, Big Foot, and two-headed
babies, so too I feel we should agree that the fantastic
stories in Islam are a sure sign that the authors of
the Islamic texts were writing theology, not history).
Ever since abandoning Islam, I have investigated the
religion, and I continue to wonder how I ever could
believe something like that without really thinking
about it. While I know a great deal more about Islam
now than I did then, I still feel uncomfortable with
how little critical thought I put into my decision
to consider the religion in the first place.
While my position has towards Islam has softened over
the years (most apostates from a faith often have a
bloody-thirsty zeal for destroying the faith in the
beginning), I still think it is important to directly
call into question the veracity of Islam. This is particularly
true with regard to the aggressive forms of apologia
employed (exempli gratia: claims about scientific miracles,
Muhammad in the Bible, et cetera). This is why it is
important to explain (a) why one left Islam, and (b)
why one continues to disbelieve in Islam. The opposing
view is, at this point, still so rarely expressed.