Accepted paper:

Mosque hopping around London: changing engagements with Islamic knowledge amongst young Somali Muslim women

Authors:

Giulia Liberatore (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores young pious Somali Muslim women’s engagements with Islamic knowledge in London. It investigates how knowledge is acquired and consumed, and explores the mechanisms used to establish, and modes employed to relate to, authoritative knowledge.

Paper long abstract:

This paper draws on 18 months of fieldwork conducted amongst young pious Somali Muslim women in London to explore the ways in which they "seek" different forms Islamic forms of knowledge. It addresses how knowledge is acquired and consumed, and explores the mechanisms used to establish, and modes employed to relate to, authoritative knowledge. In so doing, it challenges recent work on young Muslims in Europe which argues that a growing objectification, fragmentation, and pluralisation of authorising discourses and institutions is indicative of an increasingly individualised, and hence more European, form of Islam. In contrast, I treat my interlocutors' emphasis on individual choice and autonomy as a mode of subjectification, which intersects, and coexists, with a submission to the Islamic modes of reasoning and structures of authority. Moving beyond the binaries of autonomy vs. submission, I also show how affect is a crucial component of what, for these young women, determines authoritative knowledge. Through an ethnographic discussion of these young women's engagements with a popular Islamic scholar in London, I investigate the ways in which they debate, and seek to establish, the relative importance of reason, choice, affect and submission in assessing the validity and authority of Islamic knowledge.

panel P36
What is (religious) Enlightenment? Kant, freedom and obedience in religion today