Photo Credit: The Express Tribune
The former One Direction singer, Zayn Malik, revealed that he no longer identifies as a Muslim, provoking many different reactions from his fans. Malik, who is a popular British musician, was openly religious and he celebrated Muslim holidays every year which made his Muslim fans around the world happy. In his latest interview with British Vogue, Malik said he appreciates his religious upbringing but is no longer religious himself beyond a “spiritual belief” in a God. “I don’t believe you need to eat a certain meat that’s been prayed over a certain way, I don’t believe you need to read a prayer in a certain language five times a day,” Malik said, as Religion News reports. “I don’t believe any of it. I just believe if you’re a good person everything is going to go right for you.”
Reactions to Malik's statement were various, from those who praised Malik's bravery to those who criticized his decision. Some of his fans expressed disappointment with Malik's decision criticizing his statement because they perceived it as him mocking Muslim beliefs and rituals, also there were some abusive comments on social networks. When a person is a celebrity, his/her every move is under spotlight and judged and valued by fans.
Since entering the music scene with his 2010 audition on the music competition show “The X Factor,” Malik has been an inspiration for many young Muslim fans around the world. As a pop singer with tattoos who smoked and dated women, Malik fitted into the Western world changing the media perceptions of Muslims. Now he distanced himself from religion and lots of Muslim fans who identified with him felt disappointed or even betrayed, so they reacted harshly to his change.
On the other hand there were those who were happy because Malik was honest about his feelings, defending him from backlash he has received. “I feel really happy he was honest about it,” said Fatimah Umar, who runs a Malik fan account on Twitter, according to Religion News. “It is incredibly difficult for anyone to come forward with something of the sort (especially) in the Muslim community. The insane backlash he’s received isn’t something any Christian celebrities receive when they come forward as non-religious.”
One man's actions, feelings or decisions, are his own personal choice and they should not be object of a public debate, whether that person is a celebrity or not. Sadly, there are people who fail to understand this and just as Malik faced criticism when he became one of the most famous Muslim pop culture icon, he is going to be under fire now when he is no longer religious.