This article explores the dilemma and danger faced by former Muslims-turned-atheists in Malaysia where leaving Islam has legal as well as societal implications. It took time to build trust among members of this community who were both cautious of sharing their situations and yet at the same time eager for people to know more. For those who have left Islam, freedom of belief is a core principle that they wish to see established in their country where there is a dual legal system spanning secular and Sharia laws. The article aimed to give voice to this minority group in Malaysia. It also has resonance for former Muslims across the world who seek to leave the faith. At the same time it aimed to show the broad spectrum of beliefs among practising Muslims in Malaysia, highlighting voices who assert that leaving the faith should not be punished while urging reform among Islamic communities.
At the time this article was being reported Malaysia welcomed a new government that spoke about religious freedom. But by the time it was published this reformist coalition was replaced by one backed by orthodox religious nationalists. For former Muslims the feature came at a crucial time when minority rights felt especially precarious. The piece sought to give voice to opinions rarely heard in Malaysia for the backlash, to spark debate and broaden the understanding of non-religious minority communities. Groups of former Muslims in the UK said it resonated with their audiences too. And the New Humanist chose the story as one of its top 20 reads for 2020.