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Women Embracing Islam

Gender and Conversion in the West

Edited by Karin van Nieuwkerk

Publication Year: 2006

Ten essays by leading historians, sociologists, anthropologists, and theologians that probe Western women's motivations for converting to Islam.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii

I wish to thank several people who advised, criticized, and helped during the process of finishing this book. First of all I would like to thank ISIM (the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World, Leiden) for helping to organize and financing the symposium Gender and Conversion to...

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Foreword: Conversion and Gender, Two Contested Concepts

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pp. ix-xii

This book is the outcome of a conference, Gender and Conversion to Islam, held at Nijmegen, the Netherlands, in May 2003. It tackles a topic that is highly relevant at the moment. The two main concepts, conversion and gender, are in themselves and in their combination highly contested...

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Introduction: Gender and Conversion to Islam in the West

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pp. 1-16

Conversion to Islam by women in the West may evoke a range of sensitive issues. Crossing religious and ethnic boundaries generally disturbs conventions and can engender hostility. Female conversions may raise even stronger reactions because traditions have often constructed women...

PART ONE: Contextualizing Conversion

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pp. 17-92

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Chapter 1: The Quest for Peace in Submission: Reflections on the Journey of American Women Converts to Islam

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pp. 19-47

In the aftermath of the attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, the United States government declared a war on terrorism: on al- Qaeda for carrying out the attacks and on the Taliban for harboring terrorists. The war was justified as a defense against those who have chosen to be the...

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Chapter 2: The Shaping of a Scandinavian “Islam”: Converts and Gender Equal Opportunity

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pp. 48-70

It is symptomatic that new converts often embrace a specific cultural understanding of Islam, where, for instance, Arabic, Pakistani, or African cultural traits become important in their new Islamic worldview. As most converts go through stages in the postconversion process...

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Chapter 3: Symbolizing Distance: Conversion to Islam in Germany and the United States

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pp. 71-92

It is in vogue in sociology of religion to talk about religion in terms of the market. American sociologists, especially, have advocated theories of a religious market, of religious human capital, and of “rational choice.” Some have propagated this approach as...

PART TWO: Discourses and Narratives

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pp. 93-149

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Chapter 4: Gender, Conversion, and Islam: A Comparison of Online and Offline Conversion Narratives

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pp. 95-119

In this chapter, conversion narratives of female converts to Islam collected during anthropological fieldwork in the Netherlands will be compared with self-presentations of new Muslimas on the Internet. During my research among Dutch female converts to Islam in 1997 and...

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Chapter 5: The Shifting Significance of the Halal/Haram Frontier: Narratives on the Hijab and Other Issues

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pp. 120-149

The question of the hijab, the most common Arab name for what is often imprecisely called the “veil,” as well as other gender issues, has always been a very sensitive issue in European countries’ perception of Islam. It seems that, more than the issue itself, it is its symbolic perception...

PART THREE: Trajectories and Paradigms

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pp. 151-229

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Chapter 6: Female Conversion to Islam: The Sufi Paradigm

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pp. 153-171

Conversion to Islam is increasingly attracting attention worldwide. It is said that Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the contemporary world, and that despite the negative image and bad publicity about the faith, the number of people converting to Islam...

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Chapter 7: African American Islam as an Expression of Converts’ Religious Faith and Nationalist Dreams and Ambitions

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pp. 172-191

When we look at Islamic conversion amongst African Americans, it is important to contextualize this phenomenon within the history of African American religion, which has traditionally been a response to the group’s...

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Chapter 8: Feminism and Conversion: Comparing British, Dutch, and South African Life Stories

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pp. 192-229

A signal foundational text of Islamic feminism was written by a woman convert to Islam. The text is Qur`an and Woman. It was first published in 1992 and was republished in 1999. The author is Amina Wadud, an African American and a professor of Islamic...

PART FOUR. Transmission and Identity

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pp. 231

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Chapter 9: How Deborah Became Aisha: The Conversion Process and the Creation of Female Muslim Identity

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pp. 233-249

Until recently, most of the psychological and sociological research on conversion has been concerned with identifying: (1) what type of person might be predisposed toward religious conversion (Allison 1969; Batson and Ventis...

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Chapter 10: Keeping the Faith: Convert Muslim Mothers and the Transmission of Female Muslim Identity in the West

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pp. 250-275

This chapter is a study of Euro-American female converts to Islam in the United States who have raised daughters as Muslims since their conversion. Through a series of personal interviews conducted either in face-to-face meetings or over the telephone...

Notes on Contributors

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pp. 276-279


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pp. 281-294

E-ISBN-13: 9780292795778
E-ISBN-10: 0292795777
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292712737
Print-ISBN-10: 0292712731

Page Count: 308
Illustrations: 6 halftones
Publication Year: 2006