8 Between Two or Three Worlds: Reversion to Islam, Beur Culture and Western Sufism in the Tariqa Budshishiyya 211

In: Sufism East and West

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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.