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Accepted Paper:

Hijra and religious service: sacralizing forced migration in the Hizmet community in Brazil  
Liza Dumovich (KU Leuven)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses how participants of the Hizmet Movement in Brazil have mobilized Islamic history in order to deal with their new reality of forced migrants, after the 15 July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey and the ensuing crackdown on the Movement participants and institutions.

Paper long abstract:

The Hizmet community in Brazil is part of the Hizmet (or Gülen) Movement, a transnational Turkish Sunni Muslim movement with a missionary character, present in many countries worldwide. “Hizmet” means “service” and is a term used by the community’s members to refer both to the Movement itself and to the religiously motivated service in which they engage – a whole set of activities and practices, which includes religious performances but also different kinds of involvement in community building and in promoting their own idea of Islam. After the 15 July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, the ensuing crackdown on the Movement participants and institutions has put them into a critical political, financial, and social situation inside and outside the country. In Brazil, members of the Hizmet community have interpreted the critical juncture as both proof of their being in the righteous path and a necessary step towards purification and closeness to God. In this context, conjoint efforts towards community building, as well as financial and emotional mutual support reinforce the sense of belonging, solidarity, and religious piety. This paper is based on two and a half years of ethnographic fieldwork with the Hizmet community in Brazil, and is centered on that period of transition, analyzing how members of the community have articulated Islamic history and the idea of hijra (Muhammad’s migration from Mecca to Medina in 622 A.D.) to deal with their new reality and migration experience.

Panel P103
Religion and refugee: interdisciplinary discussion on humane-divine interactions
  Session 1 Tuesday 14 August, 2018, -