British Muslim Converts Performing 'Authentic Muslimness' | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2043-1015
  • E-ISSN: 2043-1023


This article seeks to demonstrate that conversion to Islam is not only of theological significance, but is a social process whereby those who convert to Islam are deeply troubled by the idea that other Muslims may not consider them as 'authentic Muslims'. While the hostility that Muslim converts can experience from non-Muslims after converting to Islam has frequently been noted, much less has been written about the challenges that stem from fellow Muslims. This article explores the great lengths that Muslim converts go to in order to avoid being doubted as 'authentic Muslims' by drawing upon Goffman's ideas about performance and Bourdieu's ideas about 'habitus'. It is argued that the converts respond to having their 'authenticity' as Muslims questioned by 'performing' their 'Muslimness' in a similar way to which Goffman spoke about 'actors' taking up 'roles' in 'character' for the sake of 'audiences'. The perspective of Bourdieu is also important in exposing several barriers that Muslim converts face in seeking to 'pass' as 'authentic Muslims'. For example, the notion of 'habitus' suggests that identities are deeply engrained on an individual and are not easy to be resocialized into suggesting bleak prospects for Muslim converts in ever attaining the status of an 'authentic Muslim' in the eyes of some lifelong Muslims.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): authenticity; belonging; habitus; identity; Muslim converts; performance
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