irtazaHere’s my tribute to the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s young member and activist Irtaza Hussain who tragically committed suicide on 11 September. I gave it at last night’s evening drinks event with philosopher Arif Ahmed:

Irtaza was an active member of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. In his membership statement he wrote: “Islam quite simply did not provide enough answers at all and was fairly credulous. What is absolutely appalling is the state of ignorance within Muslims and how many of them make claims about Islam’s monopoly on knowledge yet still being miles away from having a proper appreciation of academia.”

Irtaza was well known amongst us. He joined our events, spoke to the media on our behalf, and defended the right to leave Islam, reason and free expression whenever he could. Despite all the torment and hurt and despair, he never stopped speaking out and helping others. Irtaza even contributed to a soon to be published report on the status of apostates from Islam for CEMB – a report which he will never get to see.

In one essay he had written in 2012, which he asked me to look over, he ends saying: “The critical thinking involved and the logical fallacies that we see as convenient are not just mere instructions considering the doors they have opened and the apathy that they have eliminated. They are powerful tools that we should be proud to have used them and we must continue to use them because we have strong reasons to do so. We must pat ourselves on the back and continue to do good as we do because not only are we bringing passion into the lives of many and ours; we are doing good and eliminating the bad within humanity. Let us continue to hold on to these progressive values and preach them with the regard that we have showed in disciplined discourse, with the use of reason and standing up for progressive values. We have a voice and we continue to use it.”

Many of his last emails and messages were full of hurt and despair. Much of it he said had to do with his family as well as the traumas related to being ex-Muslim. He also had mental health issues.

In one email he wrote: “I’m starting to lose it and I’m sick to death of my situation.”

In another he wrote: “Thanks for your concern, I really do need to feel as I’m loved for to actually get out of this. The main problem was that I had bottled too much and kept myself away from people recently since I was too busy but the thoughts that I should’ve discussed weren’t discussed and that caused an acute stress reaction. I’ll just have to bear things for a while, pass a Life in the U.K test and make more effort to move out.”

On 11 September Irtaza could bear no more.

And how we will miss him.

Let’s remember him as the intelligent and thoughtful person that he was. And let’s remember him well!



  1. What a terrible loss for all of us and for the world.

    I hope his friends will also find John Donne appropriate:

    No man is an island entire of itself; every man
    is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
    if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
    is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
    well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
    own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
    because I am involved in mankind.
    And therefore never send to know for whom
    the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

    1. Thank you for reminding us of Donne’s all too true words.

      Let us use this ghastly loss to hold each others hand the more tightly and find better practical ways to listen and respond to such cries of pain within our ranks.

  2. Irtaza says,”We have a voice and we continue to use it”.

    This is Omar Khayam still speaking:

    Were I to find fruit on the branch of hope
    I’d find the end of my life’s thread there;
    How much longer must I be in existence’s narrow straits?
    If only I could find the door to oblivion.

    Ah Love! could thou and I with fate conspire
    To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
    Would not we shatter it to bits – and then
    Re-mould it nearer to the Heart’s desire.

  3. Three Stages of spiritual development of A person.

    Stage 1).
    Nafsul Ammara: (The Passionate soul)… “I do not absolve myself Lo the (human) soul is prone to evil, save that whenever my Lord has mercy. Lo, Lord is forgiving; merciful.” (Surah Yusuf 12:53)

    This soul inclines toward sensual Pleasure, passion and self gratification, anger, envy, greed, and conceit. Its concerns are pleasure of body, gratification of physical appetite, and ego.

    Hadith “your most-ardent-enemy is your evil self which resides within your body” (Bukhaii).

    If this evil soul is not checked it will lead to unusual stress and its resultant effects.

    Stage 2.
    .Nafsul Lawanunah (The Reproaching Soul). “Nay, I swear by the reproaching soul” (Qur’an 75:10)
    This soul is conscious or aware of Evil, resists it, asks for God’s grace, and pardon, repents and tries to amend and hopes to achieve salvation.
    “And (There are) others who have acknowledged their faults. They mix a righteous action with another that was bad. It may be that Allah will relent toward them. Lo! Allah is relenting, merciful.” (Qur’an 9:102)
    Hadith “These are two impulses within us. One spirit which calls towards good and confirms the truth. He who feels this impulse should know that it comes from Allah. Another impulse comes from our enemy (Devil= wrong thinking, negativity, wrong interpretations, becoming an ex-muslim and believing fake ex-Muslims etc..) which leads to doubt and holds untruth and encourages evil. He /she who feel this should seek refuge in Allah from the accursed devil.”
    This soul warns people of their vain desire, guides and opens the door to virtue and righteousness. It is a positive step in spiritual growth.

    Stage 3).
    Nafsul Mutmainnah. (The satisfied soul) “O (you) soul in (complete) rest and satisfaction. Come back to your Lord, will pleased (yourself) and will pleasing unto him. Enter you then among my devotees, enter you in my heaven.” (Qur’an 89:27-30)
    This is the highest state of spiritual development. Satisfied soul is the state of bliss, content and peace. The soul is at peace because it knows that inspite of its failures in this world, It will return to God. Purified of tension, it emerges from the struggle with obstacles blocking the peace of mind and heart.
    What should we do in panic and despair? In panic non-believers behave differently than believers. They have no one to return to, to ask for mercy and forgiveness, their life is this life, which they cannot control, thus get more depressed and increase in their state of wrong doing. Then we will see that if they are used to casual drinking will start drinking more and become alcoholic, or a barbital criminal or suicide.

    On the other hand a believer should do the following:
    Increase dhikr (Remembrance of God)
    “who have believed and whose heart have Rest in the remembrance of God. Verily in the remembrance of God, do hearts find rest.” (Qur’an 13:28)

    1. I cannot image what sort of a bastard it is who would see fit to give these lectures to a group of friends who has lost one of their own at least in part because of the pressure from such as you. You have not an ounce of decency in you to allow us to grieve and remember. How cruel can you get!

      1. Dear brother rafiqmahmood, may peace and blessings of god be upon you
        Thank you for your intellectual, philosophical and kind reply/comment…you are a nice guy.

        I don’t know in which stage you are fit in out of three which I mentioned…but I pray for you to be a positive thinker if not a believer in god and after death.

        1. This is not the time nor the place. This post is a post to remember a dear friend, a friend who rejected your beliefs. Your stupid, cruel and thoughtless posts make us all the more aware of the horrible relentless pressure he was under and which may well have contributed to his ghastly last act. I am not your brother and your ridiculous blessings and prayers are of no use to me.

          You remind me of the time a very dear university colleague died and had a traditionalist Catholic funeral. The priest took it upon himself to use the funeral mass as an opportunity to preach to the non-Catholics among us about his belief and how only true Catholics who said the mass regularly had a chance to get through purgatory and go to heaven, and then only if those who were left behind regularly said mass for them. We came to say goodbye to our friend and remember him. What should have been a moment of tranquility and reflection was destroyed by a religious idiot. We were left furious and embittered.

          You are doing precisely the same thing. The most decent thing you can do is to request Maryam to remove your posts and apologise to all Izzy’s friends for the thoughtless hurt you are causing. I assume you are as decent a person as you hope I am and your posts are just a misguided attempt to offer comfort. Let me assure you they offer no comfort whatsoever.

          If, on the other hand, you were to insist on pouring more of your Islamic claptrap into this thread you would deserve, and get, no more response from me than two words in basic Anglo-Saxon.

          1. Thank you again dear brother rafiqmahomood..Your thoughtful (freethoughts) reply with loads of anger is very funny…I still pray for your wellbeing…I know you are not a bad person. So I keep praying for you to be a positive person….think positively and be happy.

  4. الذين اذا اصابتهم مصيبة قالوا انا لله وانا اليه راجعون “Who, when a misfortune overtakes them, say: ‘Surely we belong to Allah and to Him shall we return’.”

    This is the phrase that Muslims recite when a person is struck by calamity in life, and is usually recited upon hearing the news of someone’s death. This can also be recited in any situation involving risk of any sort. The phrase is commonly translated as “Verily we belong to God, and to God we return.”

    Muslims believe that God is the One who gives and that it is He who takes away; He is testing humankind. Hence, a Muslim submits to God and is grateful and thankful to God for whatever they receive. On the other hand, they are patient and say this expression in times of turmoil and calamity.

    1. I think you would do better to keep these thoughts to yourself. This is not the time to receive lectures, we are all non-Muslims and know them very well.

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