Being openly religious: non-Islamiosity, discrimination and devout Shi`ism within the Iranian diaspora in London

Gholami, Reza (2016) Being openly religious: non-Islamiosity, discrimination and devout Shi`ism within the Iranian diaspora in London. In: Precarious Belongings: Being Shi`i in Non-Shi`i Worlds. vom Bruck, Gabriele and Tripp, Charles, eds. CASS, London, UK. . [Book Section] (Accepted/In press)


This paper contributes to the relatively recent literature which has been interested in the relationship between devout diasporic (especially British) Muslims and secularism. Two points emerge from this literature: 1) ‘the Muslim community’ uses mainstream political and legal channels to exert political agency; 2) devout Muslims are largely successful in ‘warding off’ secularism, which therefore remains an external/alien force. Through the concept of non-Islamiosity ¬– an increasingly dominant discourse, sensibility and mode of practice through which some London Iranians construct, experience and live diasporic identity, community and consciousness in a way that marginalizes, excludes or eradicates only Islam – and its deeply, sometimes shockingly, discriminatory relationship with devout Iranian Shi`a, I argue that Muslim political agency (in response to discriminatory practices) and religious experience cannot be adequately understood unless attention is paid to intra-diasporic modes of secularism. I present a number of cases from my fieldwork in London to show that the Shi`a of my study had a great deal of emotional, social and historical investment in the Iranian diaspora, which means that its realities and relations (including secular ones) affected them very deeply and immediately. As such, these relations could not be ‘othered’ or ‘warded off’. Nor did these Shi`a feel a sense of unity/solidarity with ‘the wider Muslim community’ and its activism. They thus lived daily under great emotional and social pressure which had huge implications for how they experienced themselves as devout Muslims.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Health and Education > Education
A. > School of Law > Criminology and Sociology
A. > School of Law > Law and Politics
A. > School of Law > Social Policy Research Centre
Item ID: 17518
Depositing User: Reza Gholami
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2015 09:28
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:36

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