I am the son of a punjabi muslim father and a bihari hindu mother. Whoever met me, tried to figure out my identity. In fact when i was younger i was racked for years myself, trying to find out whether i was a hindu or a muslim.
But is it fair to look at identity only through the prism of religion? If religion is one source of forming our world view, there are other too, maybe varying in importance, but nontheless prevelant.
While nationality is an obvious identity marker, our economic status and our economic outlook also forms our world view. so does our social condition and outlook. Also individually, I might be less influenced by religion than by my profession as an actor and a writer and i might find that, that has also been a factor in my world view.
My family, my education, my friendships in early life and even now, The way i look, the small town I grew up in, the world and society I saw around me, the way women were treated, the sports I played, the books I cherish, all contributed in no small measure in forming my unique identity I possess now.
Yes it is true that for some, religion might be the most marked influence. But even in that, for one it could be the faith and spirtuality that is influencing him and for another it could be just the feeling of being bound by a community or a religion.
For others it could be their economic outlook they are most driven by. For others their politics independent of religion and for some their profession might be their marked influence.
It is not to say that religion is not important in an individuals life.It is important but only one of the things that make him. If we see people only through their religious affirmation, then one label fits all people of that religion. It might give us a false certainity that we know that person. But surely we do not, for then we have stuck a label, and sucked out all his loves, all his hates, all his concerns, indeed all his humanity from him.
As for myself I am still trying to figure out my identity. But for sure I know that I am a human, as I am an asian, as I am a brown, as I am an indian, as I am a muslim, as I am a hindu, as I am a liberal, as I am an actor, as I am not in favour of absolute and wholesale privitization, as I am in favour of affirmative action...........
The list goes on. Maybe one day I can reply to a person , who upon hearing my name says ` oh so you are a muslim`, as if he has figured out everything about me. I can then say to him ` yes I am, and I am much more`.