Online Islamic Spaces as Communities of Practice for Female Muslim Converts Who Wear the Niqab

In: Hawwa
Anna Piela Leeds Trinity University UK

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This article focuses on online narratives of female converts to Islam who wear or plan to wear the niqab. There is little discussion in research literature about motivations leading to adoption of the niqab or experiences of women who wear it. Instead, the discourse on niqab has been sensationalised by tabloid media which construct it as a symbol of otherness and separation from the host culture and, recently, one of radicalisation. This begs the question: why are some converts drawn to it despite negative reactions to the niqab by some Muslims and non-Muslims. Here, I examine online discussions in which converted women argue why they wish to wear the niqab, often in contradiction to other Muslims’ views. I draw from Rambo’s conversion model () and Lave and Wenger’s concept of communities of practice to illuminate the process whereby participants learn about Islam and the niqab through social interaction.

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