While in Pakistan, I often visited the Dawah Academy's library, despite continual suggestions from my teachers to "stick with the Quran." After reading some books on Buddhism, I was fascinated with the idea that Buddha was one of the many prophets mentioned in the Quran. I found that throughout my Islamic life, I was searching for knowledge from a wide variety of sources: philosophers, the texts of other religions, history, etc. but I was always advised to first learn Arabic and master the Quran before engaging in those studies. Then I found Attar's Conference of the Birds and read a line that changed my life:
"forget what is and is not Islam."
This, appearing in a spiritual text, a Sufi text, relating to the search for God. To find Allah, forget Islam. The idea threw me to the floor. Allah without Islam! Staghfirallah!
As I continued studying, certain ideas in Islam lost their power over me. For example, my mother had a dog in her house. I no longer admonished her that the angels would not enter. My female cousin wore shorts in the summertime. I lost my harsh attitudes about such practice. It just did not matter to me anymore.
I still considered myself Muslim, but ignored Sahih Bukhari. It made no sense to me and its credibility was shot by my continual reading. Muslims argue that there was a very scientifically sound system for determing the validity of hadiths. How sound can any system be for separating real from false gossip 300 years after all the involved characters have died? Hell, look at the rumor mills in your offices, schools or even mosques and tell me you have a scientifically sound "he said that he heard from so and so that she heard him say" system for finding the truth.
The final nail in the coffin was when I started reading Islamic history from the Shiah perspective. I learned things that I never see mentioned in Sunni sources: how what Muhammad called "the greatest generation of Muslims" all killed each other over politics. How Aisha ordered arrows to be shot at the coffin of Husain. How Fatima was trampled to death by Muslims seeking Ali's pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr. The religion was junked the day Muhammad died.
My reading brought many other issues to light which have all been touched upon here: Muhammad's marriage to a child, the killing of apostates, etc etc.
I am still a spiritual person. I even retain my old admiration for Imam Husain, who was praised by "kufrs" such as Charles Dickens for his noble, selfless sacrifice. But I cannot call myself a Muslim. I am a free man.
permission from Faith