Every year more and more Europeans, including Germans, are embracing Islam. It is estimated that there are now up to one hundred thousand German converts—a number similar to that in France and the United Kingdom. What stands out about recent conversions is that they take place at a time when Islam is increasingly seen as contrary to European values. Being German, Becoming Muslim explores how Germans come to Islam within this antagonistic climate, how they manage to balance their love for Islam with their society’s fear of it, how they relate to immigrant Muslims, and how they shape debates about race, religion, and belonging in today’s Europe.
Esra Özyürek looks at how mainstream society marginalizes converts and questions their national loyalties. In turn, converts try to disassociate themselves from migrants of Muslim-majority countries and promote a denationalized Islam untainted by Turkish or Arab traditions. Some German Muslims believe that once cleansed of these accretions, the Islam that surfaces fits in well with German values and lifestyle. Others even argue that being a German Muslim is wholly compatible with the older values of the German Enlightenment.
Being German, Becoming Muslim provides a fresh window into the connections and tensions stemming from a growing religious phenomenon in Germany and beyond.
Esra Özyürek is an associate professor at the European Institute of the London School of Economics. She is the author of Nostalgia for the Modern: State Secularism and Everyday Politics in Turkey.
"Through thoughtful portraits, Özyürek explores the dilemmas faced by converts to Islam in Germany, where new Muslims are seeking nonethnic forms of the religion. She shows how these converts are finding an original way to be German through their Islam--a discovery that seems dangerous to some in the German state. A clear, convincing account of new Muslims in a European land."--John Bowen, author of Can Islam Be French?
"In a society where 'Muslim' has come to imply 'nonwhite immigrant,' and where German-Islam for many is a contradiction of identity, how do native German Muslims tread across these conundra? Özyürek's engaging and penetrating book leads us through the issues and reveals as much about Germany and a select group of Germans as it does about Islam."--Ruth Mandel, University College London
"This book offers both a call and a hope. Özyürek shows the tremendous role of Muslim converts in making Islam a German and European religion, and she calls converts to meet this challenge. She also presents the common hope of everyone 'living together' in unity, and her book is an important contribution to the achievement of this goal."--Tariq Ramadan, University of Oxford
“Given the current position of Islam in Europe, why do Europeans convert? What do the experiences of converts reveal about contemporary life, particularly in Germany? This rich book offers a new perspective and entrée into the discussion of religion in Europe.”—Damani J. Partridge, University of Michigan
“Özyürek has written an engaging, highly readable portrait of German converts to Islam who have become key figures in public debates over the future of the country as a multireligious, multiethnic polity. The book serves as a primer on the history of Islam in Germany and plumbs the limits of European secularism. A pleasure to read.”—Paul Silverstein, Reed College
Table of Contents:
Introduction Germanizing Islam and Racializing Muslims 1
Chapter 1 Giving Islam a German Face 24
Chapter 2 Establishing Distance from Immigrant Muslims 51
Chapter 3 East German Conversions to Islam after the Collapse of the Berlin Wall 69
Chapter 4 Being Muslim as a Way of Becoming German 87
Chapter 5 Salafism as the Future of European Islam? 109
Chapter 6 Conclusion 132