Misrecognizing Muslim consciousness in Europe

Meer, Nasar (2012) Misrecognizing Muslim consciousness in Europe. Ethnicities, 12 (2). pp. 178-196. ISSN 1468-7968

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Abstract

It is widely accepted that the category of 'Muslim' in Europe is patterned by a variety of subjective and objective features. Despite internal difference, some argue that there emerges something overarching that furnishes Muslims in Europe with a collective sense of self, evidenced by empirically observable Muslim identities at local, national and supra-national levels. Amongst those who share this view at least three prevailing interpretations have emerged. The first is theologically grounded but socially iterative. It maintains that Europe's Muslims are redefining Islam in the context of their identities as European Muslims and that the result is a 'Euro-Islam', illustrated by how Muslims view Europe as their home while being guided by a renewed Islamic doctrine. A second interpretation of a 'Muslim subject' in Europe can be described as the 'Eurabia' trajectory. This predicts the numerical and cultural domination of Europe by Muslims and Islam. The third is more formally sociological and employs a methodology of political claims-making to report that Muslims in Europe are exceptional in not following path-dependent institutional opportunity structures of minority integration. This article argues that these formulations are open to the charge that each places the burden of adaptation upon Muslim minorities. As such each displays a normative 'position' or Weltanschauung that misrecognizes dynamic components of what may be termed 'Muslim-consciousness'. The article maintains that the components of Muslim consciousness contain compelling evidence that Muslims in Europe are meeting standards of reasonableness in their political claims-making, often from contexts in which they face profound social and political adversity.