‘Getting Hands Dirty for the Sake of Allah’Active Social Citizenship Amongst Professional Muslim Londoners Konrad Pedziwiatr Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Centrum voor Sociologisch Onderzoek E.Van Evenstraat 2B 3000 Leuven Belgium firstname.lastname@example.org
Revival of Citizenship • Revival of the notion of citizenship • (In result of inter alia: globalization, the enlargement of the European Union, the erosion of the boundaries and identities of the nation states and the general disengagement of individuals from the political process) • Sociological citizenship • From a sociological point of view, citizenship involves the social inclusion of individuals in society through their membership of clubs, associations, groups and places of worship. • Identity and participation together with the rights and duties make up the components of citizenship or ‘the defining tenets of group membership’ (Delanty 2000).
Muslims in Citizenship Debates • Redefining citizenship - what it means to be a citizen has become an issue of central concern for the children of Muslim immigrants born in Europe, who are not only more aware of their rights as citizens, in comparison with their parents, but also have some resources (at least cultural) to exercise these rights. • Devout citizenship (Tariq Ramadan) • self-identification as a Muslim and as a citizen • Muslims have to be loyal to their countries • Muslims should have positive emotional attitude to their countries and extensive knowledge about them. • Dar ash-shahada (ar. space of testimony) • ‘Muslims are not born to be observers’
Devout Muslim Citizenship in Practice • The City Circle • - set up in 1999 by a group of young Muslim professionals, some of whom work or used to work in London’s financial district. • 120 young Muslim Londoners from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds • refrains from making direct references to religion or a religious community, either in its name or in its promotional material • aims to ‘create a knowledgeable and organised Muslim Community’ • part of the new Muslim elite - Muslim social • actors who participate directly or indirectly in the processes of decision making concerning the faithful of Islam in a given country and its wider society.
Key resources • Time • Money • Civic skills – (members of the Muslim elite possess not only substantial amounts of the embodied cultural capital but also institutional form of it) • Families - as sources of civic skills and as bases of recruitment • Effects of socialization in the atmosphere of ethnic/religious mobilization
Why ‘GettingHands Dirty’? • To improve the situation of the Muslim Community – ‘Intellectually we are backward, economically we are backward. Look where all indicators are. Muslims have to learn so much!’ (Sajid) • To share personal success – ‘If we have made it, (achieved personal success - KP) we need to try to transfer these skills back to the community and help others below us to get there as well’ (Sajid) • To influence larger discourse on Islam • To network – ‘initially it was more like people getting together for a bit of a lecture but really to go out afterwards for curry’ (Rajaa)
Activism for the Sake of Allah • Muslim Civic Identity as a ‘Project Identity’ - a situation when social actors, on the basis of whatever cultural materials are available to them, build a new identity that redefines their position in their society, by so doing seek the transformation of overall social structure (Castells 2004) • marriage of religious identity with action • all-encompassing nature of the religious identity • boundaries of the religious identity encompass also those of the civic identity and vice versa • strong emotional attachment to the place in which they are living
Conclusion • Emergence of the European-born Muslim elite that is able to translate their religion into the language understood by non-Muslim members of a given society is one of the most important developments within these communities in recent years. • An activist understanding of religious identity to be found amongst the members of the Muslim elite has an important influence on their social participation, and that this participation in turn fosters their religious and civic identities • Understanding these complex processes is crucial not only in order to better conceive of Muslim activism, but above all in order to at least minimally facilitate the transition within the Muslim populations in Europe from Islam of immigrants to Islam of citizens.