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Abstract

Spain has the highest rates of conversion to Islam in the European Union. A significant proportion of converts live in Andalusia, which was once part of medieval Muslim Spain (al-Andalus). The “Muslim past” is looked to with a burgeoning sense of nostalgia, yet little is known about this romantic longing. Some converts perceive al-Andalus as a glorious epoch marked by religious co-existence (convivencia) and the flowering of Arabic culture, remembering those medieval Muslims who were exiled from Spain or who stayed and practised Islam secretly, and viewing themselves as heirs of these medieval Muslims. Conversion for them is not conversion but a rediscovery of the “truly Muslim nature” of Andalusia. Fundamental to this Andalusian convert discourse is the claim that Islam is not an “imported” religion but a local, indigenous one. An analysis of these Andalusian converts’ narratives will contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the current ideological battles over national and religious identity.

In: Journal of Muslims in Europe

Abstract

The Qadiriyya Budshishiyya is a Sufi order of Moroccan origin that has expanded beyond its original milieu in the, mostly Berber, North-Eastern region of l’Orientale, by incorporating followers from the rest of the country and from abroad. In Western Europe, the Budshishiyya has formed a dynamic geography of small groups in urban areas of Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. In many of these locales, two different types of groups have formed. There are religious communities composed of Moroccan migrants existing in parallel to others made up of “Westerners”—the latter, including converts to Islam and revert Muslims. The phenomenon of conversion to Islam within Sufi circles has already generated some scholarly interest, yet, less consideration has been given, so far, to reversion to Islam in Sufism. This chapter attempts to address this vacuum by assessing the religious identities of Budshishiyya’s revert female devotees. In continental Europe, revert disciples of Hamza Budshish are typically the children and grandchildren of Moroccan migrants, born and raised in Europe, who are often critical of the approach to religion undertaken by their families. While some of these families adhere to a socially conservative and “customary” approach to Islam, others, more liberal, can be defined as “cultural Muslims” who are either non-observant or irreligious. By voluntarily deciding to become members of this tariqa, reverts are developing their own distinctive religious identities. Quite often, they see their (re)-embracing of Islam through the Budshishiyya as a departure, both from the lifestyles of the culturally-Moroccan social milieus of their childhoods, as well as from the non-religious perspective adopted by mainstream society. This chapter analyzes the approach to Islam of these revert faqirat in a situated manner, by comparing them with the ways in which Islam is understood and experienced by non-revert devotees of the same Sufi order.

In: Sufism East and West

Abstract

This paper develops a comparative perspective between two contemporary diaspora movements that claim being descendants from Jews and Muslims expelled from the Iberian Peninsula by the end of the Middle Ages. In particular, the research considers a group of Tunisian descendant of Moriscos and another of Israeli Sephardim. Instances of Moroccan Moriscos as well as of Tunisian Sephardim have occasionally been used to widen the picture. The article critically discusses the ways in which these groups look at the past, and how they articulate their diaspora invocations. By doing, so it perceives diaspora discourses as being crucially embedded in the social and political milieus that produces them. In that, the article is an illustrative account of modern perceptions of the ‘other’ within Muslim-Jewish relations today, vis-à-vis mythologized constructions of Spain and more generally of Western Europe. Overall, it attempt to scrutinize Morisco and Sephardim diaspora claims in light to their relationship to Spain, the past and to their religious others.

In: Jewish-Muslim Relations in Past and Present