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Embodying the Faith: Religious Practice and the Making of a Muslim Moral Habitus

From: Social Forces
Volume 86, Number 4, June 2008
pp. 1753-1780 | 10.1353/sof.0.0038



Despite a number of contemporary theoretical works in sociology and moral philosophy arguing that the project of modern selfhood is necessarily a deeply moral endeavor, there are few empirical studies examining the specific ways in which social actors construct moral selves and lives. Utilizing ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth interviews, this article examines how a group of adult Muslim converts in Missouri produced new moral selves in and through the use of embodied religious practices. Drawing on the theoretical insights of Bourdieu, I demonstrate how the embodied religious practices of ritual prayer, fasting and covering formed within converts the moral dispositions, or habitus, associated with becoming a "good Muslim."