Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? (Your educational background and profession)
I graduated from Hacettepe University of Medical Faculty. I am a doctor and married, have 2 kids.
Which tribe of Adyghe (Circassian)-Abkhaz clan are you belong to?
How important is Circassian culture in your life?
I can not say I have experienced Circassian Culture in recent years. What I understand of “being Adyge” should’ve been outdated. I am somewhat conservative in this matter. Relationships between young and old generation have degenerated. They don’t know how to respect. Male-female relationship also getting strange. Sadly, they no longer live with Circassian traditions, but with Turkish-Islamic traditions. When I saw that I couldn’t adapt to “new Circassian culture,” , I retreated into my own shell.
How was the environment when you grew up in?
I grew up in a very conservative environment. It is one of the most conservative towns in Anatolia where I grew up. My mother wasn’t religious, conversely my father was. – Were you raised religiously and to what extent? No matter how religious my father was, my mom has been more active in our upbringing. Both my brothers and sisters were very afraid of my father. He was tough and ruthless. When my mom spoke Circassian language, he’d scolding. He used to say, you’re setting a bad example for children. We demanded by heart from our mother to speak s Circassian language. Thanks to her, we got rid of our father’s pressures.
Why did you stop believing your ex religion?
I was a Muslim like 90 percent of the Adyghe society. By the way I wasn’t prayer, I had no idea what the Quran says. I wouldn’t go on Friday prayer. Occasionally I’d fast for just lose weights. I had a wunekosh (close relative). He was so mad at me because of my lifestyle. He was a person that I love very much. One day he said that “Just listen, you should read the Quran, If I can not convince you then I’ll let you go. I said allright but I didn’t take it seriously. He kept up to following me, finally I read the Quran and decided to become an atheist. Later, my relative went crazy. He talked to me for days and tried to persuade me. We had very long discussions. In conclusion, whatever I say ; “You can’t understand the Quran like the that, Quran doesn’t mean it there, you have to consider the book as a whole. ” I got answers like that and this. Discussions lasted for months. I became an atheist, but also I made him a deist.
I had an Armenian friend in the dormitory with whom I stayed and shared the same room. He has kind of political personality, our conversations turned out on the common sufferings of the Armenian and Circassian people. One day he said that if we Circassians wouldn’t accepted Islam, we’d not be in this situation like today. We’ve talked for hours. That’s why I wondered what Christianity looks like. There was such internet connections like today’s or Holy Bible wasn’t exist in university library. Later then, I started to busy with my social life and focused on school, it causes to forgot this point m. I graduated from medical school and I’ve completed my military service duty in Turkish Army. On the first day of work, there was a church exist on the opposite side if clinic which I worked there. My office window could see the entrance to the church. The door was completely iron covered, like a huge castle gate.
I came across people coming to church on my Sunday shift , women, men, children. I thought it’d only happens in movies. I like the idea when I saw alive them. I said myself how nice that able to go to a place of worship together as a family. Next days, while I reading the newspaper, I gazed an advertisement like size of matchbox, which was Free Holy Bible. Even $100 inside exist, just kidding. (e. g., About “$100 in the Bible”: It was a false propaganda by Muslims in Turkey about the Bible distribution. As if Christians put $100 in each Bible and handed out to people to convert them to Christianity. They lied for years, and that is why it has become a humor.)
I demanded from them , it came to me in a week. I read it quickly. It had nothing to do with the Quran from afar. Approximately for a year I read articles about the Holy Bible and Christianity and I’ve decided became to a Christian.
How affected your relationship with you family?
My close family (wife and kids) have already joined my life when I’ve became Christian. I didn’t tell anything nor my mom, dad, and siblings either about this issue. We already live in different cities. Already we’re just getting together with in special days (Ramadan Bairams, and other specials days etc.)
Are these things that you believe in but do not practice ? (Wearing Hijab, or Islamic traditional clothes, not communicate with women/men?)
I’ve asked this question to my Muslim friend, I never thought that someone’d asked me. The man who has pure Adyghe blood, however his name was Abdullah! I’ve asked why? “What’s wrong with this? Your name is Cengiz! ” He replied. Then I said that “You’re right you Muslims and Turkey, has assimilated me ” I always keep telling I’m glad to converted Christianity. Christianity does not interfere with my property it doesn’t assimilate us.
Did leaving Islam cause the problems in your family relationship?
Nope – Have there been differences in your political aspects other the leaving Islam? How’d you classify your political views? I was a social democrat. But now I accept more leftism, I classify my views as truthful, respectful of human rights and honest.
As a person who raised in the Muslim community have you encountered any pressure?
Yes. Most of all when I was a kid. The Quran Course was the worst nightmare of our generation. – Have you researched the ex Muslims? Nope. – Did you mention or hide to your conversation from your acquaintances? As I mentioned before. We’re already already a Christian family. But I did not tell anything to anyone. I did not need it.
What’d you recommend to those who want to become Christians but have retreated one way or another?
My friends are leftist, Turkish ones welcomed normal, nothing extraordinary on the other hand Circassian ones had a high tension. However, in the our relationship turned normally, even I’d say better than before. I advise those who want to find peace and serenity in this life without leaving away from own culture, to visit a church and buy a Holy Bible asap.
Do you leave a message for Circassian society?
Let me express to my Circassian people what my Armenian friend told me years ago, “If you Circassians did not accept Islam, you wouldn’t assimilated.” For those who want to understand what they want now.
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