Interview With a Convicted Jihadist: 'As Soon as I left Islam I stopped Hating Women, Gays, and Jews'

Saif Rahman, founder of the Humanist and Cultural Muslim Association and Author of The Islamist Delusion interviewed a former convicted jihadist – a teenage convert to Islam and now an ex-Muslim – about his previous views on homosexuality and women. His identity has been hidden over fears of his safety. He is known below as 'X Jihadist'. 

Read the full interview below:

Saif Rahman: In your jihadi phase, how did you feel about homosexuals?

X Jihadist: I thought they were sexual deviants. People who lavished in sin and who were so perverted that they spend their sexual energy on all kinds of perverse ways (as you know for a Muslim ‘morality’ is almost completely identical sexual morality).

In my perception gays suffered from an extreme lack of manliness and were further characterised by debauchery, lack of sexual discipline, cowardice and worldliness. They were the polar opposite of what a Muslim man should be. 

I also regarded them as subversive and dangerous, a threat to the fabric of the Ummah (global Muslim community). The presence of gays only spreads sin and vice in the Muslim community, and they corrupt Muslim youth by their example of being effeminate. In my mind a Muslim man had only one single purpose in life: he is a born soldier whose whole existence has no other purpose than to wage and to die in war. Gays are dangerous since they undermine national morale and give an example of cowardice. Being gay and soldier at the same time was simply unimaginable to me.

Next to that gays were a national security threat because I regarded them as people who commit excessive sins, thereby corrupting the Ummah by their presence and driving away the divine favor. In the worst case they would invite divine wrath and punishment to fall on the entire community. 

In jihadi circles for examples it is commonly excepted that Muslims lost Andalus (the Spanish caliphate_ because worldliness spread, homosexuality increased and men ceased being men. Therefore Allah withdrew his blessings and divine help and the Muslims of Andalus were destroyed.

Because of this we thought suppression and punishment for gays was fully justified. This only went for male gays by the way. As far as i can remember we never held similar view on female gays.

Because of the meaning it carried for us, the label ‘gay’ was applied wider then it should be. We considered men who dressed too smoothly (and thus worldly), and especially those that displayed cowardice and a reluctance to wage jihad as ‘gays’. 

Gay-ism was not a natural state or an orientation which is hard-wired in the brain, but a sin that came forth from weakness, cowardice, worldliness and hypocrisy (in the religious sense). Any man could become gay if his faith slackened. Homosexuality was just a state of extreme perversion and sinfulness.

Saif Rahman: And you felt this way about gays before you became an Islamist too, or was this a sudden change?

X Jihadist: I converted at quite a young age. I cannot really remember if I had any views on homosexuals at all. Of course, as a kid you are amazed when you find out about its existence, and you consider it as unnatural. But when you’re 13 its not something which you give very much thought about. 

I only seriously started to develop views on the issue when my skepticism of Islam was seriously undermining my imaan {faith} and I felt the strong urge to provide all my beliefs a rational foundation. It was at that moment that I decided there were no good arguments to justify being against homosexuality: it is not a threat to demographics (too few to have an impact), it is not unnatural (its hard wired into the brain, and its common in nature), there is no reason to assume gays are morally sick or perverted, the idea they are cowards has no foundation, etc.

The latter change was relatively sudden. It was a total re-evaluation, which was made possible because I didn’t bother to confirm to already established beliefs anymore. Actually, from the moment I left Islam I stopped being an anti-semite, homophobe and mysogynist in an instant. The hate simply disappeared. The revaluation of values was radical but liberating.

Saif Rahman: Yes, I found the hatred uncomfortable & unnatural too, particularly when I interacted with the kuffar (non-Muslims) & thought many of them were alright.

X Jihadist: When I stopped hating, I realised how hate poisons you and distorts your world view.

For example, my views on women were never stable but always oscillated between extremes. Sometimes I regarded them as cunning devils that invited to sin, constantly lay traps for men and should be dealt harsh with. At other times I saw them as innocent, pure, angel-like children which were oblivious to sin and which should be locked up and protected in order to prevent them from being corrupted by the evils of the world (many extremists don’t talk about sex with women in order not to spoil their ‘purity’). 

At times I thought that women who were not docile enough should be raped as a way of disciplining them (the attitude that rape is a way of setting women straight, especially when they talk back is widespread among Islamists of Arab descent in my experience), at other moments I found they should be treated more mildly then men when they sin, since they are ignorant and immature and thus less responsible for their actions (like children or the mentally ill).

I held all these conflicting beliefs at the same time, without ever coming to terms with them, based on Islamic ideals. Only when I shed the yoke of dogmas I could finally regard women as ordinary people (not as angels or demons), adults (not children), and responsible for their actions like men. The idea that women were big children soon also vanished.

Saif Rahman is a Strategic Consultant, HCMA founder (Humanist and Cultural Muslim Assoc) and Author of The Islamist Delusion 


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