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.
“Given the current position of Islam in Europe, why do Europeans convert? Under what conditions do they decide to become Muslim? And 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