Originally Posted by atha
Perhaps you will find this thread helpful: Islam and Apostasy
On the question of culture and religion, for me as a Westerner it's easy to see the distinction, because I don't adhere to any religion (along with most of the people I know), but I still value culture immensely.
Culture covers many areas, as can be seen from this
definition of the word. For me, it refers to the essence of society's attitudes and intellectual products. What a society's views are will vary from one nation to another, but intellectual products will be found to share similar forms. Art, literature, music, film, theatre, architecture and other media are all constituent parts of a nation's culture, and these may or may not be religious in character.
Religion and culture are certainly intertwined, but to varying degrees. For example, certain aspects of English literature are mysterious without an understanding of the Christian background that it developed within, but most of it is readily comprehensible even without this background knowledge. Given the homogenous nature of Islamic culture, however, I would have thought a familiarity with Islamic concepts would be essential to an understanding of the literature of an Islamic society.