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Imtiaz Shams and Faith to Faithless


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Personal)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/10/28

The nature of activism is not in the show of empty solidarity, though in a fairer analysis this does help.

The core of activism amounts to the willingness to help another human being in desperate circumstances at potential great cost to oneself. At a minimum, there must or likely will be a cost for the individual involved in the activism.

Organizations exist for the assistance in the activism of the non-religious and the former fundamentalist religious. Some organizations devote themselves to the community of so-called ‘apostates’ or the ex-Muslims. Those who live with death threats over their heads and own family hunting them down for retribution for dishonoring the family.

One broad-based group is called Faith to Faithless run by Imtiaz Shams. A young man with a mission to not only assist the ex-Muslim population but the broad base of those people who have lived through difficult circumstances of a fundamentalist religious upbringing and need to escape.

Imtiaz was a Muslim, but then stopped believing in the faith. He, genuinely — as many do, felt alone as the world’s only ex-Muslim. This amounts to the psychological torture inflicted, systematically on the religious who become non-religious. A social mechanism to feel as if alone and so to then need to dive back into the open arms — with requirements — of the religious community.

The purpose of the organization is two-fold, to connect and support. Those who feel alone, get them together online or in some other fashion. Those without a support but not alone, give them some form of support.

It is reported, “He said in the last year the organisation has helped 1000 people from a variety of backgrounds including Ultra-Orthodox Hasidic ex-Jews, Jehovah’s Witness, ex-Muslims, ex-evangelical Christians, Exclusive Brethren, as well as people leaving cults.”

A diverse base of those who underwent some form of abuse in a fundamentalist community and wanted out of it. Faith to Faithless helped to them. Shams spoke at the Humanist International Conference in Auckland, New Zealand in early August.

He focused on the subject matter of the human right rights of all people. By implication, this means the rights of those who want to believe in a religion; also, those who want to leave a faith because of personal preference.

The reportage makes the case that the argument sounds as if someone who was part of the LGBTQ+ community in the past. It makes sense. People in the closet of keeping a deep secret of personal identity to themselves for fear of legal or physical reprisal, or social stigma. Everyone wants to belong.

The idea of not only being rejected by one’s job — which one can acquire in another place or profession — but also social and family life. That is painful and a tremendous dilemma for those undergoing these dramatic life circumstances of tension between leaving or staying, coming out or living a literal lie. Fun, huh?

Shams explained, “If you are young, and you don’t know how to get help you are stuffed. You become homeless, people try to kill themselves… When someone leaves a very high-control group, let’s say Jehovah’s Witnesses or Gloriavale for instance, they don’t even know how to access traditional standard services. They don’t know how to go to the police, they don’t know how to get social services, none of that.”

Many of the apostates found that the support services treated them poorly. The bad treatment from the social services can be dismissal of their claims, to bad referrals, to bad provision of mental health services, and so on.

This is not only with friends, family, and professional life. It can come from the educational domain, such as on the university campuses as well; that has been an area of focus for Shams in the past. He is a frequent speaker on television programs. (Please do use a search engine to see him — well-recommended.)

More information in the article in the reference.


Hancock, F. (2018, August 7). Faith to Faithless: The group that supports people who no longer believe. Retrieved from….


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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