Contextualising Islam in Europe and North America: Challenges and Opportunities

Peter Mandaville, Dilwar Hussain

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review


    This Working Group paper explains the
    nature and significance of a key problem
    facing Muslim communities in Europe
    and North America: the challenge of achieving a
    contextualized understanding of their religion that
    is suited to the unique circumstances, challenges,
    and opportunities that face religious minorities in
    contemporary Western societies. The first section
    of the paper provides a brief comparative overview
    of Muslim communities on both sides of the Atlantic,
    identifying both points of similarity and
    difference with respect to demographics as well
    as socioeconomic issues (employment, education)
    and political questions surrounding civic engagement,
    identity, and discrimination. The next part
    of the paper explains the impetus behind recent
    efforts to develop responses to these practical issues
    that are based on the Islamic tradition but
    specific to context, and identifies some of the key figures and major ideas that constitute this
    debate. An analysis is then offered of the major
    obstacles that have prevented such efforts from
    advancing—drawing, where appropriate, on the
    experiences of other faith communities, including
    Christians and Jews, that have met similar challenges.
    The issues covered here include questions
    of representation and legitimacy, the challenge of
    creating spaces for intra-Muslim discussion and
    understanding, intergenerational differences with
    respect to religious life and understanding, and the
    role of institutions and leaders. The final section
    of the paper outlines priority issues for moving
    the discussion forward; discusses the potential for
    building new partnerships and networks around
    this shared endeavor; and identifies appropriate
    contributions from governments and civil society
    to advancing the project of contextualizing Islam
    in Europe and North America.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherBrookings Institution Press
    Number of pages23
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • Islam
    • contextual theology


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