Muslim Identity in the West

Julie Macfarlane

in Islamic Divorce in North America

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199753918
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949588 | DOI:
Muslim Identity in the West

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This chapter explores the identity of Muslims in the West as both “newcomers” and “outsiders.” It explores the meaning of shari’a—guidelines for living as a good Muslim—for Muslims in non-Muslim states, and addresses some of the most common misapprehensions about its content and significance. Widespread recourse to informal Islamic marriage and divorce processes among North American Muslims, whatever their level of formal religiosity, offers a working example of the development of a North American shari’a. Two recent political debates—in Ontario (2003–2005) and the United Kingdom (2008)—have set the stage for a further examination of how the secular state might respond to the existence of a parallel private ordering system of Muslim family practices.

Keywords: immigrant culture; private religious practice; intersection of religion and culture; political debate over shari’a

Chapter.  6959 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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