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← Subjection and Escape - Parts 2 and 3

Subjection and Escape - Parts 2 and 3 - Comments

Veronique's Avatar Comment 1 by Veronique

Lisa, I have not been diligent on RDF for some time. I recall some of your posts here and somehow had no idea what you were going through.

Can I please offer you, my profound congratulations for taking this road to recovery. I have downloaded all 3 parts and have read the third part only so far.

I am so glad you are back in graduate school. I am so glad you are back!!

I don't know what else to say. I am overwhelmed. I applaud you and wish you the very best that you could possibly wish for yourself.

For absolute bravery, A

Wed, 03 Feb 2010 16:36:00 UTC | #438139

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 2 by Steven Mading

I had seen Lisa's comments here on RDF before but I'd never known she was writing this. I'll have to go have a look now, starting with part 1. Being an ex-muslim atheist is more dangerous than being an ex-christian atheist, and anyone willing to state that this is what they are publicly is taking on a risk. We should applaud Lisa's willingness to be open about this. It's a brave thing.

Wed, 03 Feb 2010 16:56:00 UTC | #438145

Rhiar's Avatar Comment 3 by Rhiar

Ms. Bauer -

I read all three parts of your story in one sitting and they were riveting. I admire and applaud your courage in putting pen to paper and sharing your experiences with us. It could not have been easy and I thank you for telling us of your journey through, and out of, Islam.

We all have twists and turns in our journey through life and you have had your share. I hope your worst experiences are now behind you. Best of luck to you in your graduate work and in all your years ahead!

I agree with Mr. Mading - you have done a brave thing.


Wed, 03 Feb 2010 18:42:00 UTC | #438174

Dr. Strangegod's Avatar Comment 4 by Dr. Strangegod


Wed, 03 Feb 2010 19:19:00 UTC | #438187

Logicel's Avatar Comment 5 by Logicel

Lisa, you wrote a fascinating account. The promise that some have seen in you is surfacing full throttle.

As you were describing the pull of Islam, I kept on thinking of Brown (the female journalist who is a 'moderate' Islamic believer) and Cat Stevens (a longtime convert to Islam). How confused those two must be. They, unlike you, have decided to swallow their cognitive dissonance despite their intelligence and talent. How admirable that you can do what they can't do. It is not uncommon to get pulled into a religion, but it is much more rarer to be able to leave its nonsense and negativity behind. Kudos.

It was telling how easy it is to get pulled into something as stupid and dangerous as Islam. In part, it is because religion in general, that is faith, is given such deference in our societies. It is regarded as a safe 'drug.' Well, it is not.

Your former state of mind which you described so well and so clearly reminds me of others who have been inducted into so-called cults. It is programming, pure and simple. The main religions get away with it because you see faith, that is belief without evidence, is regarded as a wonderful, marvelous thing instead of the pile of merde that it is.

Others will be influenced positively by you in the way you have been by Richard. Courageous clear thinkers just get better.

Wed, 03 Feb 2010 19:24:00 UTC | #438189

glenister_m's Avatar Comment 6 by glenister_m

"We are like grains of sand blown by the wind and of no greater importance in the eyes of Allah."

Somewhat surprizing then at the response(s) one gets from its followers if you criticize Islam publicly . Surely if we are so insignificant to Allah he'll ignore us, as should his followers.

On the flip side, I think most of us would reflect that quote on Allah. It is only his followers that we find significant, not Allah.

Wed, 03 Feb 2010 19:51:00 UTC | #438202

Mr Blue Sky's Avatar Comment 7 by Mr Blue Sky

I remember Layla Nazredin and am happy to know Lisa Bauer I suppose you two are the same?

We need many more ladies of muslim experience to help the fight - I applaud your efforts and wish you well and hope you get the support from this site that you need. Good luck!

Wed, 03 Feb 2010 21:14:00 UTC | #438235

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 8 by InYourFaceNewYorker


As I said before when you first showed me these: If I ever meet that sick excuse for a human being, the imam... well, you know! At any rate, well done for getting out of there. I hope you expand this into a book. As cliche as it sounds, when you have lemons, make lemonade... and what does not kill you will only make you stronger! ALWAYS REMAIN STRONG! ALL THE BEST TO YOU!!!!!!!!!!

As for Richard, he reached out to a total stranger and gave her advice throughout this recovery. Whenever I think of that story it makes me angry when people throw out words about him like "strident," "shrill," "nasty," etc...


Wed, 03 Feb 2010 21:16:00 UTC | #438236

MarkOnTheRiver's Avatar Comment 9 by MarkOnTheRiver


What Veronique said, followed by Lucas.

Very best wishes,


Wed, 03 Feb 2010 21:23:00 UTC | #438237

kaiserkriss's Avatar Comment 10 by kaiserkriss

(Crap, my initial posting disappeared into the ether..

Lisa, I greatly enjoyed reading parts 1 and 2 earlier and look forward to Part 3 when I get a moment.
You are an inspiration to everyone. Your experience, though painful has made you a stronger person, one able to cope better with life's ups and downs. Wishing you all the best in your future life.
Please keep contributing to this site, since your insight through your experiences is invaluable to everyone. jcw

Wed, 03 Feb 2010 21:40:00 UTC | #438240

mmurray's Avatar Comment 11 by mmurray

Thanks very much Lisa for posting the second and third parts which I had been watching out for. You write very well and your story would make an excellent book. It needs to be read by more people.


Thu, 04 Feb 2010 01:17:00 UTC | #438309

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 12 by InYourFaceNewYorker

Also, you should read Escape by Carolyn Jessop. It's about how she escaped from a polygamist Mormon cult.

Thu, 04 Feb 2010 02:56:00 UTC | #438323

Agrajag's Avatar Comment 13 by Agrajag

12. Comment #457909 by InYourFaceNewYorker on February 4, 2010 at 2:56 am
Also, you should read Escape by Carolyn Jessop. It's about how she escaped from a polygamist Mormon cult.

And speaking of cults, consider reading "God's Perfect Child- living and dying in the christian science church", by Caroline Fraser.

Well done, Lisa. Thanks for the account!

Thu, 04 Feb 2010 04:08:00 UTC | #438333

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 14 by Lisa Bauer

Thanks to everybody for their kind comments. I'm flattered that you enjoyed it (well, if it can be described as "enjoying"...)

#7 Mr Blue Sky

I remember Layla Nazredin and am happy to know Lisa Bauer I suppose you two are the same?

Yes, I was Layla Nasreddin, my (barely-used) Muslim name, before changing to my "real", legal name.

#1 Veronique
I am so glad you are back in graduate school. I am so glad you are back!!

Thank you! I'm glad, too...but it means I don't have quite as much time as before to hang around here. :-( I'm studying "Information Resources and Library Science" because the library was always my favorite place in the world, and I couldn't choose just one subject, as they're all fascinating! ;-)

Thu, 04 Feb 2010 04:44:00 UTC | #438338

Gems's Avatar Comment 15 by Gems


Just read all three parts of your story. I am amazed at and applaud you for both your strength to have come through what you did and your courage and unflinching honesty in examining your experience afterwards. It really moved me.

I have actually forwarded them on to a female Muslim friend of mine. She is a friend from university so I have known her for some years but only very recently have we started to talk about her faith (mainly due to my fear of offending her if the subject came up)- it seems to me that she is suffering from a lot of the psychological symptoms you described e.g. compartmentalisation. She is intelligent and highly educated and has a very enquiring mind, however she has a very strong emotional attachment to Islam as it is the religion of her family and what she was brought up in. She is also very anxious and possibly depressed, which I think is linked to the fact that she is now in the process of having an arranged marriage (having broken up with her white, atheist boyfriend, a relationship she had to keep secret from her entire family). She has told me she does sometimes wonder whether God really does exist and perhaps all her anguish over the past year has been for nothing, but then she ignores it and seems to have thrown herself even more passionately into her religion, almost as if to justify having broken up with her ex because he wasn't a Muslim. But, possibly tellingly, she tells me the only man who has interested her so far out of those her parents have introduced her to has admitted to her he is actually agnostic! And despite the fact that in practice he is a devout Muslim, thereby ticking all the boxes for her parents, she says she could never marry him because he doesn't believe in God! She is very confused and fragile. Anyway, in short, I really want to help her- not from a desire to convert her in any way to become an atheist for my own satisfaction (though I believe ultimately that is where her mental freedom lies, although it may mean her being disowned by her family), but because I care about her happiness and hate to see her so distraught. I have been wondering what material I could possibly suggest for her to read and really wanted a personal account directly related to Islam and then, as if my 'prayers' were answered, your articles appeared! So thank you, hopefully your story will resonate with her.

Wishing you all the best for the rest of your life,


Thu, 04 Feb 2010 06:20:00 UTC | #438346

Gems's Avatar Comment 16 by Gems

Also, I forgot to say I think it's great that Richard found the kindness and the time to reach out to you. It only reaffirms my already good opinion of him as a human being.

Thu, 04 Feb 2010 06:36:00 UTC | #438348

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 17 by InYourFaceNewYorker

Yes, I totally agree with you on that. Here's my little two cents that I use whenever people talk about how "nasty" Richard is:

How dare Richard reach out to a total stranger 6000 miles away and mentor her during her escape from Islam (re: Lisa Bauer)? How dare he take a couple minutes to talk to a fan who is giving him a drawing and a short satire, at Barnes & Noble when a long line is forming behind her instead of just muttering "thanks" and shooing her away (re: me)? How dare he give advice to people on this forum who seek it when he probably gets thousands of emails per day?


Thu, 04 Feb 2010 06:40:00 UTC | #438349

Eyerish's Avatar Comment 18 by Eyerish

Lisa, You have strength far beyond what you give yourself credit for. In fact more strength that what most people will ever have. You deserve our complete support for the courage you have shown and provide an inspiration for those who are scared to question what they believe. These inner strengths are truly beautiful and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

I wish you all the very best for your new bright future.


Thu, 04 Feb 2010 10:31:00 UTC | #438415

weavehole's Avatar Comment 19 by weavehole


I would also like to echo everyone else's wishes and thank you for all you have written.

Best wishes,

Comment #457936 by Gems
I'm sure you're already aware of it but Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (as mentioned in Lisa's article) may be of interest to you and your friend.

Thu, 04 Feb 2010 12:20:00 UTC | #438439

njwong's Avatar Comment 20 by njwong

Many years ago, one seldom hear of Muslims becoming atheists or agnostics, or denouncing the teachings of their religion. It is very encouraging to see more of them speaking up and criticising the religion's barbarism and misogynistic teachings, despite the danger that these ex-Muslims expose themselves to.

Although Ibn Warraq is very famous among the Muslim apostates, unfortunately, due to censorship laws in my country, I have never been able to obtain nor read his apostasy book "Why I Am Not A Muslim" (well, Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses" is banned here too).

Fortunately, the internet has allowed me to read such literature. The first and most influential was from Ali Sina (a pseudonym like Ibn Warraq's), who now runs the site. His apostasy story is told here:

If you found Lisa's story moving, I am sure you will find Ali Sina's story just as captivating.

Thu, 04 Feb 2010 14:21:00 UTC | #438463

hackenslash's Avatar Comment 21 by hackenslash

Lisa: Just to echo what I said in private, thank you for sharing your story with us. It reduced this crusty old cynic absolutely to tears. Your courage is an inspiration to us all!

Thu, 04 Feb 2010 14:36:00 UTC | #438466

Luke_B's Avatar Comment 22 by Luke_B

Wow. What courage it must have taken to write such a frank and honest account of your experiences. Thank you for sharing such a moving and emotional story Lisa.

Good luck with your studies I really hope everything works out for you. After reading what you’ve endured all this time you certainly deserve it.

Oh, and I agree with the other posters who suggest you should write a book. You’ve certainly got the writing skills.

Thu, 04 Feb 2010 14:58:00 UTC | #438473

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 23 by Lisa Bauer

Thanks to everybody, again. I'm very touched by your kind words. And thanks to Richard, again, for being so kind.

There's one thing I might change about Part 3 if I wrote it today -- I spend a lot of time talking about "Islam," or as I clarify it, "Islam as I then understood it." Well...I tend towards the view that there is no "Islam" (or "Christianity," or any other religion) outside of what believers do and believe. Even as a believer, I was always pretty laid-back; I never saw any reason as a Sunni to condemn Shi'ites as "heretical." To me they were not necessarily wrong, just different. (I suppose my propensity to looking at religion through sociologial/anthropological lenses is heavily influencing this view!)

Of course, this position tends to be rather untenable to a true believer, unless you either never think about the matter or your religion is a pretty lukewarm mishmash. After all, one of the biggest power plays in any of the monotheistic religions is defining who is and is not a believer and what is or is not correct doctrine and practice, and this gives the clerics/scholars enormous power, especially in states where religion wields temporal power. Think Inquisition or Iran or Saudi Arabia, or even the Orthodox establishment in Israel, who refuse to accept any other denomination as legitimate.

It's quite odd -- on the one hand, I hear all the time about how awful it is to "essentialize" Islam and portray it as this monolithic, immutable thing, and how we need to learn to see Islam in all its diverse glory. Then, sometimes in the next breath, they'll start going on about how "Islam" forbids terrorism, is egalitarian in matters between the sexes, is peaceful, etc. How, exactly does THAT work?! Many of the writers most sympathetic to Islam are the worst at this, like Karen Armstrong and John Esposito.

OK, that's enough intellectual stuff...if you've read Part 1 you know I have a propensity for going on about that kind of thing! ;-)

Thu, 04 Feb 2010 15:02:00 UTC | #438476

Luke_B's Avatar Comment 24 by Luke_B

There's one thing I might change about Part 3 if I wrote it today -- I spend a lot of time talking about "Islam," or as I clarify it, "Islam as I then understood it."

Personally I don’t think that you spent too much time discussing Islam (sorry, “Islam”!). It was insightful reading how you viewed the religion and your opinions from personal experience. It also helped explain why it was that you converted. After all for those reading that’s one of the things they would most like to understand.

Well...I tend towards the view that there is no "Islam" (or "Christianity," or any other religion) outside of what believers do and believe.

Ultimately I think you are right. But that’s because I’m an atheist and believe religion is nothing more than a misguided belief. But for people who do believe, it is real. God does actually exist, he did actually create the universe and he therefore should be honoured and praised. But to believe this they must have a view as to how he should be honoured and praised (consciously or not) i.e. Protestant or Catholic, Sunni or Shi’ite etc but they obviously must feel that their way to praise is correct otherwise they would choose another way. But by extension if they feel that their way is right that means everyone else must be wrong. Enter war and genocide stage left….

That’s my thoughts anyhow. Although no doubt other posters will quickly jump in to point out where my logic has gone horribly wrong ;- )

Thu, 04 Feb 2010 16:22:00 UTC | #438497

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 25 by Lisa Bauer

Dwain --

That's just the "teaser" intro; a couple of pages in I go into what attracted me to Islam long before I ever darkened the door of a mosque. Also, Part 3 goes into some (rather excruciating!) detail about why I was attracted to Islam, specifically.

However, if you want to know if there was anything in the West or its culture and/or politics that drove me to Islam, well, there wasn't really anything. I'm not much help for trying to find out why male converts may be attracted to violence and extremism in Islam and convert for that reason, or why non-practicing Muslim males suddenly have a "born-again" (so to speak!) experience and rush off to be part of the latest extremist jihad. Female converts tend to have rather different experiences, though they too may be attracted to some of the same sentiments (though I never was).

Thu, 04 Feb 2010 17:45:00 UTC | #438517

Sciros's Avatar Comment 26 by Sciros

So Lisa, I'm just curious but was Layla a name you adopted upon conversion the way Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did?

Thu, 04 Feb 2010 18:24:00 UTC | #438527

Bluff_King_Hal's Avatar Comment 27 by Bluff_King_Hal

Well done Lisa for your tremendous courage in your oppenness relating your awful experience. Apart form the horror of the experience itself, this is what stands out, in addition the kindness of RD to not merely reply but to send you copies of not only his own but other books to help you in your situation, belying the image of him some of his critics represent.

From your picture you appear to be a very attractive woman, and it is very sad that you should have had such low self-confidence in finding a partner and also should have wanted to coverup and hide yourself away so much. You are also clearly clearly highly intelligent and informed.

Recovery must be hard for you but you have made so much progress by being able to talk of your experiences. Such courage and insight you have gained will stand you well in future. My very best wishes. :)

Thu, 04 Feb 2010 19:39:00 UTC | #438559

King of NH's Avatar Comment 28 by King of NH

I'm quite speechless. Thank you Lisa for telling us such a personal story for the public good. It can't be easy reliving that.

Also, thanks to the other posters above for wording our appreciation better than I seem able.

Thu, 04 Feb 2010 20:02:00 UTC | #438562

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 29 by Lisa Bauer

#27 Sciros

So Lisa, I'm just curious but was Layla a name you adopted upon conversion the way Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did?

Kareem ("generous, noble") Abdul-Jabbar ("Slave of the Compeller"). :-P

Sort of...I chose it but never really used it. It's actually not that uncommon for converts to retain their "old" names, actually. While many famous converts either changed their name or added an Arab/Muslim one (e.g. Michael Muhammad Knight, an American convert/author whom I admire for being so conflicted about his chosen faith and writing about it!)

#30 Invariance
I suppose this goes to prove something I've thought for a very long time: namely, that the logic of one's actions is largely determined by one's emotional state and personality, as opposed to learning or intelligence.

Yes...I subscribe to the notion that 95% of humans' actions are more or less irrational, and if we could get that down to 90%, we'd be making enormous progress. When I read the biographies of geniuses and fantastically talented people, I'm struck by how messed-up and unhappy their private lives often were! This is not necessarily always the case, of course, but genius in one area certainly does not translate to genius or even simple common sense in all areas of one's life.

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 03:17:00 UTC | #438655

nancynancy's Avatar Comment 30 by nancynancy

Congratulations to you, Lisa, for having the courage to leave Islam and for being able to write about it so movingly and so gracefully. I look forward to reading your book and think you have a very important story to tell.

I remember reading your messages when you posted as Layla, and your defense of Islam always irritated me. Now hearing about your terrible ordeal, I feel ashamed and wish I had known so I could have offered you support.

You may be interested in the story of another remarkable young woman, Torah Bontrager, who escaped from the Amish at age 15 and eventually put herself through Columbia University. She's about your age and is also working on a book, Escape from the Amish, about her harrowing experience. I think you and she have much in common. Here's the link

Best of luck to you.


Fri, 05 Feb 2010 03:22:00 UTC | #438656