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Moving In and Out of Islam

Moving In and Out of Islam

With empirical case studies from Western and Central Europe, the United States, Canada, and the Middle East, this anthology opens a new field of study by exploring people’s rationales for leaving, as well as converting to, Islam.

December 2018
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408 pages | 6 x 9 | 5 b&w photos, 7 b&w charts/graphs | Hardcover has a printed case, no dust jacket |

Embracing a new religion, or leaving one’s faith, usually constitutes a significant milestone in a person’s life. While a number of scholars have examined the reasons why people convert to Islam, few have investigated why people leave the faith and what the consequences are for doing so. Taking a holistic approach to conversion and deconversion, Moving In and Out of Islam explores the experiences of people who have come into the faith along with those who have chosen to leave it—including some individuals who have both moved into and out of Islam over the course of their lives.

Sixteen empirical case studies trace the processes of moving in or out of Islam in Western and Central Europe, the United States, Canada, and the Middle East. Going beyond fixed notions of conversion or apostasy, the contributors focus on the ambiguity, doubts, and nonlinear trajectories of both moving in and out of Islam. They show how people shifting in either direction have to learn or unlearn habits and change their styles of clothing, dietary restrictions, and ways of interacting with their communities. They also look at how communities react to both converts to the religion and converts out of it, including controversies over the death penalty for apostates. The contributors also cover the political aspects of conversion, including debates on radicalization in the era of the “war on terror” and the role of moderate Islam in conversions.

  • Introduction: Moving In and Out of Islam (Karin van Nieuwkerk)
  • Section I. Conceptualizing Religious Change
    • 1. People Do Not Convert but Change: Critical Analysis of Concepts of Spiritual Transitions (William Barylo)
    • 2. Moving In or Moving Toward? Reconceptualizing Conversion to Islam as a Liminal Process (Juliette Galonnier)
    • 3. Understanding Religious Apostasy, Disaffiliation, and Islam in Contemporary Sweden (Daniel Enstedt)
  • Section II. (De)conversion, Race, Culture, and Ethnicity)
    • 4. Giving Islam a German Face (Esra Özyürek)
    • 5. Merging Culture with Religion: Trajectories of Slovak and Czech Muslim Converts since 1989 (Gabriel Pirický)
    • 6. Moving into Shiʿa Islam: The “Process of Subjectification” among Shiʿa Women Converts in London (Yafa Shanneik)
    • 7. Can a Tatar Move Out of Islam? (Katarzyna Górak-Sosnowska and Michał Łyszczarz)
  • Section III. Transnational Movement and Moving between Traditions
    • 8. Religious Authority and Conversions in Berlin’s Sufi Communities (Oleg Yarosh)
    • 9. Deradicalization through Conversion to Traditional Islam: Hamza Yusuf’s Attempt to Revive Sacred Knowledge within a North Atlantic Context (Haifaa Jawad)
    • 10. Escaping the Limelight: The Politics of Opacity and the Life of a Dutch Preacher in the UK (Martijn de Koning)
  • Section IV. Narratives and Experiences of Moving Out of Islam
    • 11. British Muslim Converts: Comparing Conversion and Deconversion Processes To and From Islam (Mona Alyedreessy)
    • 12. In the Closet: The Concealment of Apostasy among Ex-Muslims in Britain and Canada (Simon Cottee)
    • 13. Religious Skepticism and Nonbelieving in Egypt (Karin van Nieuwkerk)
    • 14. “God never existed, and I was looking for him like crazy!” Muslim Stories of Deconversion (Teemu Pauha and Atefeh Aghaee)
  • Section V. Debating Apostasy and Deconversion
    • 15. Faith No More: The Views of Lithuanian Converts to Islam on Deconversion (Egdūnas Račius)
    • 16. Let’s Talk about Apostasy! Swedish Imams, Apostasy Debates, and Police Reports on Hate Crimes and (De)conversion (Göran Larsson)
  • Contributors
  • Index

Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Van Nieuwkerk is an anthropologist and professor of contemporary Islam in Europe and the Middle East at the Radboud University Nijmegen. Her many books include Women Embracing Islam: Gender and Conversion in the West, Peforming Piety: Singers and Actors in Egypt’s Islamic Revival, and Islam and Popular Culture.