Pop star Zayn Malik has said he no longer considers himself a Muslim ― although he’s grateful for everything his childhood faith has taught him.
The former One Direction singer opened up about his spiritual beliefs in British Vogue’s December issue.
Malik, 25, was raised in a British Muslim family of Irish and Pakistani descent. He told Vogue that as a child, he studied Islam and attended a mosque.
But as he grew older, he began to lose faith in some of the tenets of that religion. Nowadays, he said, his beliefs are simpler: Behave well and you will be treated well.
“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. I don’t believe any of it,” Malik said. “I just believe if you’re a good person, everything is going to go right for you.”
Malik has been hesitant to speak publicly about his religious beliefs, lamenting that discussions about faith can turn into a “religious fucking debacle of philosophers.” He said religion should be a private matter.
“I believe whatever people’s religious beliefs are is between them and whoever or whatever they’re practicing,” he said. “For me, I have a spiritual belief of there is a God. Do I believe there’s a hell? No.”
Malik isn’t alone in his journey away from organized religion. The U.K. is becoming increasingly secular. According to the British Social Attitudes survey, 52 percent of British adults described themselves as having no religious affiliation in 2017, up from 41 percent in 2002. The rise in the religiously unaffiliated is mainly being driven by young people, according to The Guardian.
In the U.S., roughly 23 percent of adults are religious “nones” ― atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” Like Malik, many of them say they are religiously unaffiliated because they “question a lot of religious teachings.” And some 42 percent of American adults say they currently have a religious identity different from the one in which they were raised, according to the Pew Research Center.
Malik said his parents have been accepting of his decision to step away from Islam. “They gave us the option so you could choose for yourself,” he said.
The singer also remains glad of the years he spent attending mosque. He told Vogue that he’s happy he built his life around Islamic principles.
“There’s definitely beautiful parts to every religion,” Malik said.