The In-Between : Addressing the Gap in Identity Formation Modeling for Ex-Muslim Atheists

Fatima Afsheen Shaik, Wright State University


The transition between religiosity and disaffiliation has been under-represented in the literature. Furthermore, religious disaffiliation has thus far been studied in reference to religion broadly without further specification, except in the cases of Christianity and Catholicism, which have been studied far more often than other religions. Gaps in the research were identified and addressed using seven existing models of religious and nonreligious identity development. The extant literature was reviewed, analyzed via critical interpretive synthesis, and organized into an identity development model for ex-Muslim atheists. The resulting model consisted of the following stages: (1) religion as ascribed identity, (1a) socialization, (1b) anchors, (2) questioning theism, (2a) morality, (2b) consciousness, (3) rejection of theism, and (4) atheism as chosen identity. Future directions for this topic should include empirical validation of the model and each of its stages so that healthcare providers may better understand and address the clinical needs of ex-Muslim atheists.