‘Religious disaffiliation‘ is a term to describe a person leaving leaving behind a faith. Another way to describe it is ‘apostasy‘, but that’s more of a criticism and a complete reversal when you abandon your faith, and go into direct opposition with it, and it’s deemed a negative connotation which is frowned upon by some religions, especially Islam. Depending on the severity and actions committed, punishment can range from non-communication, or execution if it blatantly insults ‘Sharia Law‘. To be forcefully removed from your religious community is known as ‘Excommunication’ can can be a result of breaking rules or questioning your faith, and can range from shunning to banishment depending on the seriousness of the alleged crime.
In countries that adopt Sharia Law, it is a crime to denounce your religion if you’re born into a Muslim family, and this can either be an abandonment of Islam for a different faith, or becoming irreligious. Up until several centuries ago apostasy was considered a crime of treason against the state and was punishable by death, although death can still be a punishment. This crime is known as irtidād, and the perpetrator is known as a ‘murtadd‘, which literally means ‘one who turns away‘. If the punishment isn’t deemed serious enough to warrant the death sentence, then often any marriage rights are revoked and the man/woman is banished from their society. According to some Islamic scholars, the death penalty is an act of Jihad which is in defence of Islam, as apostasy is seen as an act of blasphemy. So it’s no surprise that many people in Muslim states are forced to live a lie, as it’s too dangerous, or emotionally difficult to be true to themselves.
What the laws don’t often recognise is the emotional burden and potential isolation that can come from losing your faith, and adding to that potential exile, which can lead to post traumatic stress symptoms or worse. There are many different reasons why someone would want to leave a religion, and it’s not just limited to their faith dwindling. They may have been indoctrinated from a young age, and as they’ve grown up they’ve had the courage to question their faith and make the decision that it’s not for them. Or the faith that they’ve been part of are prejudicial towards their sexuality and since coming out they’ve decided it would be hypocritical to remain loyal. They may have been abused mentality or physically and decided enough is enough. No one should be punished, forced to feel guilt or be outed from their society for not being loyal to the faith that they’ve been brainwashed into since being young!