Faith narratives on (un)belonging: a sociological exploration of women leaving or joining Islam

Serroukh, Icram (2020) Faith narratives on (un)belonging: a sociological exploration of women leaving or joining Islam. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

[img] PDF - Final accepted version (with author's formatting)
Restricted to Repository staff and depositor only until 12 September 2027.

Download (2MB) |


While religious conversion in the context of joining Islam has been researched, the same scholarly attention has seldom been given to the process of leaving Islam. There is a commonality in terms of the religion; however, whether this is the only aspect those joining Islam and those leaving Islam share is yet to be discovered. This qualitative study based on twenty semi-structured interviews and seven audio diaries with British born and raised women sought to understand the process of joining or leaving Islam through analysis of experiences, to allow for increased knowledge on the factors involved to be gained. Focusing on women in particular has allowed for the gender dimension to be engaged with, ascertaining the relevance this has within the process. In particular, the role of motherhood emerged as one which caused a renegotiation of gender roles.

Discovering the implications such a decision has on the lives of those who join or leave Islam has illustrated how agency is negotiated in relation to social structures and relations and how this then translates into daily life. This research sought to explore the process of religious leaving or joining Islam, and has included women from both groups within the same study, offering a unique insight into how, why, and what the decision means. Although the experiences are distinct and this study is not comparative in nature, there were many parallels that emerged. Findings revealed that the main aspects impacted by the decision to leave or join Islam were relationships; familial, such as, with parents or children and romantic relationships, along with a renegotiation of identity. The intersectionality of various identity facets with religion emerged as a sociologically significant contribution, illustrating the possibility to understand how this shapes the lived experience of religion. Islam emerged as a racialised identity, and engaging exclusively with white converts has highlighted the extent to which this is the case, demonstrating how whiteness changes through becoming Muslim. The perception from others was that religion and ethnicity identity were one and the same thing, and so, by joining or leaving Islam, it was assumed that this inextricably meant a loss of ethnic identity and belonging to that ethnic group. Appearance also changed for many and was highlighted as a marker of identity, especially the veil, which was not only a marker of Islamic identity but also a means to achieve and feel a sense of (un)belonging. This study makes unique contributions to the study of leaving and joining Islam.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Sustainable Development Goals:
Research Areas: A. > School of Law
B. > Theses
Item ID: 35885
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2022 09:26
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2022 15:22

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.