Changing Identities: A Case Study of Western Muslim Converts Whose Conversion Revised Their Relationship to Their National Identity

Younis, T.; Hassan, G. (2017)

Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs

37(1) | 30-40

Few studies explore the impact conversion to Islam has on a Western individual’s social identity configuration. This article focuses on six Western Muslim converts—three from Montreal, two from Berlin, and one from Copenhagen—who experienced difficulties relating to their national identities prior to conversion, exploring how it developed afterwards. A qualitative interview guide was adapted in a semi-structured format to the demands of each individual, and interviews were analyzed applying thematic content analysis. The participants reveal how they revised their social identity configuration upon conversion, ultimately reversing their antagonistic relationship to their national identity. Their narratives relate how political realities are embedded in the perception and development of the Western Muslim identity, necessitating a revaluation of their national identity as a form of social critique. Our results demonstrate how socio-political experiences of discrimination and race are all significantly implicated in the process of conversion and Muslim identity development.