Amal Farah has not spoken to her family since 2005 after she told them she was leaving the Islamic faith. She believes if she still lived in her native Somalia, rather than in Britain, she might actually be dead for leaving Islam. She shared her story with The Telegraph for the first time after reading about Mariam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman that remains trapped in Sudan after being released from prison for refusing to renounce her Christian faith.
Amal’s father was a high-ranking general in the Somali army and very secular. A landmine killed him when Amal was only three years old. After the death of her father, Amal says her mother became more religious. “We were all Muslims, of course, but the older I got the more I was told to pray, to wear conservative clothes and so on. …I disliked being told what to do, like being forced to wear the hijab. I dreamt of having control over my own life.”
This loss of control became quite tangible when her mother prepared her to be circumcised. She says, “I was really scared, and she was talking about how it was religious purification – an essential rite. I asked if there was anything I could do to change her mind, and she said no. I think that’s when I realized that I hated this feeling of powerlessness.”
Amal began to question her faith even more as she attended a British university. “I met atheists, staunch Christians, Jews, Hindus – they challenged me about my views, and I about theirs. It was an incredible sensation to be able to ask questions, and discuss ideas without fear, without looking over my shoulder. I had been in a cocoon- unquestioning, with everyone told they had to think the same way.”
She read different translations of the Qur’an and listened to tapes of imams from other nations such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, but ultimately she made the decision that Islam was not for her. Her mother was heartbroken with her decision and told her that she was going to hell. Amal describes her mother as feeling guilty that had daughter had left Islam, and also as “very, very angry.”
Her mother believed exposing her daughter to “corrupt Western ways” had cause her to abandon Islam, and she moved with the rest of her family back to Somalia in order to ensure that her other children remained Muslim.
The experience of many young women in Islam is similar to the life of Amal – as a Muslim, they are disenchanted with the control over their lives. Pray that many young Muslims will find themselves in a position of safety where they are able to ask questions and explore their faith without fear.
Ask God to equip Christian students on college campuses to understand the fundamental differences between Christianity and Islam that will enable them to have encouraging and truthful conversations with other students.
Oftentimes Muslims who leave the Islamic faith have a distorted view of God and it is difficult for them to be open to the Christian faith. Pray that the Lord will divinely connect the Christians with Muslims who are open to truth, empowering the Christians to stand strong in their faith and share the gospel without compromise.