The initiative for this book originates from the Academy of Finland funded The Governance of Islam in Finland, Ireland and Canada Project. In our efforts to discuss Islam in the contemporary world, we noticed a lack of scholarly interest in the more peripheral countries on today’s Europe. Based on this insight we organised an international conference at the Institute of Social Sciences in the University of Lisbon in March 2011. At the conference – At the Margins of Europe? Muslims in Finland, Ireland and Portugal – we discussed the pressing issue of the dominance of Germany, France and the UK in setting the agenda for the study of Islam in Europe. As the histories and experiences of these countries cannot reveal the diversity and multiplicity of Muslim lives and institutions on the continent, we felt that it should be high time to focus on lesser-known cases.
We started working on collecting suitable authors, many of whom were already present in the conference, and later expanded the scope to include also Greece. Thereby the four corners of Europe were covered and we would be able to point out the complex historical trajectories through which contemporary Islamic presence in Europe has developed. We hope that our book will also encourage others to bring forth lesser-known European Muslim experiences. The aim of this book, as suggested by the title, is to bring the margins into the wider debate of an increasingly religious diverse Europe.
Finally, we would like to thank the University of Lisbon, for making the first meeting possible, and the University of Cork, who generously hosted us the following year (for the preparation of a project proposal during which we had the opportunity to continue our discussions). We also express our gratitude for the generous financial support of Professor Tuula Sakaranaho (University of Helsinki, Finland) in having the language proofing costs covered. Karoliina Dahl helped us with the bibliography, thank you.Tuomas Martikainen, José Mapril and Adil Khan