Coming Out of the Closet as a “Secular Muslim”

This is a guest post by a Pakistani student pursuing his masters degree from Columbia University. He wishes to remain anonymous in order avoid any difficulties upon returning to Pakistan.

A few days ago I went to a Jewish musical event and had an interesting conversation with the organizer of the event. While describing her passion for Jewish music and food, she told me that she was a “secular Jew.” “For me, being a Jew is not necessarily a religious label, instead it’s an ethno-cultural label. I am secular in outlook and am married to a Christian, but I identify with and cherish the Jewish tradition, culture, history and community,” she said. This statement really resonated with me as it reflected my own conception of my identity as a Muslim. I have been brought up as a Muslim in a Muslim-majority country and my passport even says I’m Muslim. Therefore, the Muslim identity and label is something that definitely applies to me and I own and cherish it as well, but what does it mean when I define myself as a Muslim? Continue reading