Fans curious about Sam Asghari's religion as engagement news breaks

Bruno Cooke September 13, 2021
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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News of Britney Spears’ engagement to personal trainer Sam Asghari broke yesterday, after nearly five years together, prompting curiosity among fans of the couple about what kind of wedding they’ll have. Some have speculated that Sam Asghari identifies as Muslim, but he hasn’t confirmed – is he religious, and what about Britney?

What is Sam Asghari’s religion?

Iranian personal trainer and actor Sam Asghari’s religion has been subject to some debate since he rose to prominence in the late 2010s, especially via his attachment to Britney Spears.

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Asghari is from Tehran, Iran. He travelled to the US when he was 12 years old, leaving three of his sisters behind, along with his mother. His father was already in America – they hadn’t seen each other for five years, he told Forbes in May this year.

“It was definitely a culture shock, coming out here with a completely different language to speak. I didn’t speak a word of English and it was a weird age.”

He has not confirmed whether or not he is religious. Some, however, have speculated that he is a Muslim, encouraged by surveys that report a very large majority of Iranians identifying as Muslims. Most Iranian Muslims associate with Shia Islam, rather than Sunni Islam.

He may be from Iran, but that doesn’t mean he identifies as Muslim

Evidence of such includes a 2016 Pew Research Center survey (which found 99.8% identify as Muslim), the 2011 Iranian government census (99.38%) and a 2020 World Value Survey (96.5%).

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Focus on Iran on the Map. Source: “World reference atlas”

However, a poll conducted by Netherlands-based research centre GAMAAN reported much lower percentages

Using online polling, which provides greater anonymity for respondents, the survey (of 50,000 Iranians) found that only 32% identified as Shia. The survey reported that 22.2% of respondents did not identify as having a religion at all.

Iran is an Islamic Republic – conversion from Islam (known as apostasy) is punishable by death, and atheists are not recognised by the state. As a result, government censuses are likely to be skewed in Islam’s favour.

Moreover, Sam Asghari’s migration to the US throws any claims regarding his religion – Muslim or not – into uncertainty.

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Will Sam Asghari and Britney Spears have a religious wedding?

It is unclear what Sam Asghari’s religion is – or if he is religious at all – but what about Britney Spears?

Spears announced in August this year that she had become a member of the Catholic Church. She was raised as a Southern Baptist in Louisiana, according to HuffPost, and studied the Kabbalah – a Jewish text – for a period. 

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Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

According to the Qur’an (5:5), Muslim men can marry women from the People of the Book – i.e., Christians, Jews and Sabians

So if Asghari is Muslim and Spears is Catholic, their marriage will not contravene the Islamic principles of sharia law. Of course, if he is not religious, then sharia law is of no matter to the couple.

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Bruno is a postgraduate student studying global journalism, with research interests in the intersection of the media, storytelling, culture and politics. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Packs Light and Forge Press, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com. He is a Student Ambassador for Tortoise Media, a big fan of Freddie Mercury and a novelist – his debut novel, Reveries, is available on Amazon.