Accepted Paper:

Socializing Islam among young British Muslim women across various contexts  


Fazila Bhimji (University of Central Lancashire)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines ways in which young British-born South Asian Muslim women engage with Islam in various sites: on-line discussions, study circles, conferences, and Islamic concerts. I argue that the spaces in which these young women participate allow them to gain much knowledge about Islam.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines the ways in which young, British-born South Asian Muslim women engage with Islam in various sites such as on-line discussion threads, study circles, conferences, workshops, and nasheed concerts. I show how young women acquire knowledge of Islam in their everyday actions as participants in virtual and religious spaces and in social networks formed through these social arenas. Contrary to mainstream views that Islam is exclusively socialized within domestic spheres, I argue that these social spaces afford young women much knowledge of Islam, as they collectively search to comprehend Islam in Britain.

While traditional anthropology has given much attention to the ways in which religion and religious rituals are passed across generations through family and kin ties, the young women in my study actively sought to engage with Islam in various spaces away from their homes and outside the bounds of family relations. Here, they influenced each others' interpretations of Islam. Examining some of these religious and virtual spaces, the paper demonstrates that these are not simply sites where young women perform religious rituals. Rather, they are sites where young women both discover and establish their own ways of interpreting Islam within contemporary British society. The paper is based on virtual fieldwork in an on-line discussion thread as well as participant observation and interviews with twenty-five young British Muslim women in mosques in two cities in Northern England.

Panel W031
Children, youth and religion: visions of mutuality and diversity across generations