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Ali Shannon

Ex Muslim discovers objectivism, reason, and individualism

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Greetings rational egoists!

My name is Ali and I was born in Baghdad, Iraq in the midst of the gulf war where the totalitarian leader of my birth country decided to invade another nation. I was born into a Muslim family who told what to think, gave me answers I cannot and dare not question, and told me to live my life with the goal to please Allah and his dangerous prophet. During the U.S. - Iraq war, several members of my family worked for the U.S. army and it was dangerous for us as children to be in a country that was being torn apart by its tribalism and factions who were seeking power over other men. In my teenage years, while I was temporarily a refugee in Egypt waiting for the U.S. refugee vetting process to go through, I started questioning the faith I was born into. The exposure to different religions and denotations of Islam lead to me asking questions I could not answer for a very long time, questions about the nature of my reality, questions about the nature of the idea of an omnipotent being who had questionable motives and ideals that had no meaning. I became this person who was sure that the world of ethics and morality had some foundations that I could not name, that word was reason.

As soon as I set foot in the United States, I was driven by one goal: to seek independence. I wanted to rely on myself and saw that only by doing so I could live the life I wanted and learn from own mistakes rather than follow the teachings of my family or society. Throughout my college days, I was mostly a person who wanted to understand as much as possible about the world, I enrolled in the aerospace engineering department at UVA (jokes about a brown guy in aerospace are always welcome). During my third year, I met this navy veteran who was this fierce individualist, an ex-Christian who did not give a crap about pleasing others. He was criticizing Islam, Christianity, and college leftist ideologies. But most importantly, he showed a consistent view of the world that I had ever seen before. I admired the way he was able to integrate the abstract principles of philosophy into the natural world and arrive at a consistent viewpoint for every single idea he presented. That man was and still is an admirer of Ayn Rand. My first exposure to Ayn Rand's ideas started with Atlas Shrugged. After reading that book, my view of the world was no longer the same. I have since read The Fountainhead, Anthem, Intro to Objectivist Epistemology, and I’m currently reading more of her non-fiction along with the audio lectures by Nathaniel Branden. I was finally enjoying this world of objectivist philosophy and was exposed to a world where people are philosophically consistent, and understand how the world works.

I have graduated less than a year ago and have since been working as a Data Scientist and seeking a career where I can develop my own algorithms to solve problems because I enjoy it. Sadly, however, my current town does not have many people like my navy veteran friend, most of them pursue leftist agendas and some atheists even go as far as defending Islam when I criticize it. I still have the desire of meeting rational people which is why I joined this forum and hopefully will one day find people I enjoy having enlightening conversations with.

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Hello.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Chances are that the Islamic world will secularize, the way the Christian world did, perhaps looking back at people like Ibn Sina for inspiration, the way secular Christians adopted people like Aristotle. But, so glad you're out of that part of the world, and able to pursue a life where you have so many more choices available. 
 

All the best to you

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Thanks for sharing your wonderful story. You have a pioneer spirit, and I'm glad it led you to Ayn Rand. I look forward to your contributions on this forum.

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