Author:Marzia Balzani (New York University, Abu Dhabi)
Paper short abstract:
Ahmadi Muslims have converted migration and exile fracturing ideas of home into a resilient transformation of diaspora into home, a transformation that is remarkably responsive, both ideationally and practically, to the political, economic and cultural realities of globalization.
Paper long abstract:
In under one century the spiritual home of the Ahmadiyya Muslims and physical home of their leader, the Khalifa, has moved from India to Pakistan to London. The Khalifa's move was not solely a communal dislocation but also the beginning of a diasporic movement of Ahmadis. Originally of South Asian heritage, the transnational proselytizing Ahmadis have made the UK their home and are now British citizens, often twice migrants from East Africa or Europe and converts from diverse ethnic backgrounds and cultures. Persecution in Pakistan has resulted in migration, exile and refugee status for many Ahmadis and in the need to make their home in a new country. The construction of collective memory and tradition has been central to Ahmadiyyat as has remaking home away from the original homeland of Ahmadiyyat and of many Ahmadis themselves in the subcontinent. While some collective experiences of migration encompassing memories and myths of the original homeland and beliefs originating in Islam apply, others such as the idea that the ancestral homeland may be a place of eventual return require a more complicated historical explication. For, in the Ahmadi eschatological vision, the eventual conversion of the globe to Ahmadi Islam is the future, and therefore no single place can constitute a homeland site for return when the whole globe is to become theirs in the fullness of time. Of course, should such a time come to pass, it will, by definition, constitute the very negation of diaspora as the whole world will be 'home'.
Ideas of movement, faith, and home in Muslim communities in the diaspora