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Constructing Moral Selves: Transmitting and Appropriating ‘Muslim’ Values In and Outside Institutionalized Religious Settings in Europe

A302
Panel Chair: Gerd Marie Ådna | Friday, August 28, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

In today’s dominant European discourse, so-called ‘Muslim’ and ‘Western’ values are increasingly presented as being mutually exclusive. In this context, it takes Muslims a lot of biographical work to construct a moral self. This panel addresses the issue how European Muslims with migration backgrounds construct moral selves in dialogical relations with various collective and personal ‘voices’ that inform their life worlds simultaneously. The focus is on how culturally and religiously framed values are transmitted to Muslim children by parents and religious community leaders, and, vice versa, how such values are actively appropriated by the offspring of migrants in dialogues with the multiple value discourses and practices that characterise the domains in which they participate in their everyday lives. Our goal is to create a discussion forum for researchers who study the construction of religious and cultural identity of Muslim children and their families in various European contexts.

Marjo Buitelaar

Doing moral ‘biographical work’: The narrative construction a Muslim moral self

This paper addresses the impact of being raised within different, asymmetrical pedagogical systems that transmit (partially) different world views and ideologies of personhood. It investigates how religious self-presentations of female Dutch Muslims with Moroccan backgrounds are informed by the interplay between pedagogical styles and personal and social developments. Narrations on religion in the life stories of three highly educated women are presented to analyse in what instances ‘Dutch’, ‘Moroccan’, and ‘Islamic’ cultural values are identified by the women and presented as compatible, complementary or contradictory to each other. The focus is in on narrations concerning parental styles of transmitting religion. It is reflected how continuity or discontinuity in the stories with parental voices relate to the specific balance the narrators seek to realise in their lives between various kinds of agency and communion.

Gerd Marie Ådna

Narratives from Stavanger and Berlin about the interplay between daily lives and moral ideals in the self-reflection of Muslim mothers

This paper addresses some religious and cultural values, as found among Arab or Turkish/Kurdish speaking Muslim mothers in Berlin and Stavanger. They want to transmit religious and cultural values to their children and help that they will become well-integrated in the society, schools and the Muslim community. For instance, encountering the Norwegian society’s expectations that all women should be full-time professional workers is sometimes perceived as being in conflict with ‘Muslim’ family values. Further, the patience of the Prophet Ayoub is often mentioned as an ideal, especially in times of hardship. The mother’s ability to be patient is tested when she acts in roles as her children’s educator, her female friends’ support and mediator, and the organizer of the mosque’s bazars. This paper takes a history of religions approach in analysing narratives and observations among first generation migrants in a European urban setting.

Nadia Fadil

Reclaiming the ‘traditional Islam’ of the parents. Practices of authentication of Liberal and Secular Muslims in Belgium

Scholarship on Islam has largely invested the question how younger Muslims relate to the Islam of their parents. Within this perspective, the idea of a generation gap has emerged as an important analytical template to assess these developments. Drawing on fieldwork with Belgian Muslims of Moroccan origin, this paper seeks to nuance this perspective by exploring accounts wherein the religious legacy of the parents is actively reclaimed. This was especially the case for liberal and secular respondents who held onto the “traditional” religious. This paper proposes to take them as redefinitions of what constitutes and can be considered “real Islam”. By re-invoking a different set of criteria that have been discarded in Islamic revivalist tendencies, the narratives not only show how genealogy and ancestry play a central role in redefining the “real” Islam, but also how the turn to orthodoxy becomes disqualified as an inauthentic way of practicing Islam.

Riem Spielhaus

Coping with exclusive narratives: the Value discourse among young female Muslim activists in Germany

Based on empirical research among young Muslim activists in Germany this paper addresses how Muslims in Western Europe are confronted with and respond to an assumed dichotomy of "Muslim" or ”Islamic” and "European" values. Values are an ingredient of many exclusive narratives of Europe that portray Muslims as incapable of submitting to core values like gender equality or respect for diverse life forms and faith groups. While it appears that Muslims need to be questioned about equal treatment of women, governments present themselves as flagships of gender equality. The paper hence asks, which values do young Muslims present as both German and Muslim values, in such a discursive environment, and which strategies to cope with exclusive narratives do they chose? Another question is, what reference frames young Muslims use to legitimize their claims.

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Thematic Outline

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