Preferred Citation: Metcalf, Barbara Daly, editor. Making Muslim Space in North America and Europe. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1996 1996.



1. This introduction does not attempt to survey the literature on diaspora Muslims, which is by now very extensive, but rather to set out shared themes in the papers, some of the discussion of the conference, and relevant points from the editor’s own (idiosyncratic) reading. Citations of individuals identified only by dates refer to comments made at preconference meetings listed in the acknowledgments above; comments attributed to the individuals without citation were made orally at the conference that produced this volume. In addition to the works I cite, the larger literature includes recent edited volumes by Bernard Lewis and Dominique Schnapper; Felice Dasseto; Jochen Blaschke; and Jorgen Nielsen, as well as a bibliography by Steven Vertovec (1993). (With thanks for these references to Pnina Werbner.)

2. This is the conclusion of Bruno Etienne, quoted in Markham 1988. Given the extreme French anxiety about Muslim politics, however, one wonders if interviewees might be hesitant to acknowledge any religious activity at all.

3. I am grateful to Paul Titus for helping clarify the implications of using the term space. See his “Social Space, Cultural Space, and Ethnicity in Balochistan” (paper delivered at the Western Conference of the Association of Asian Studies, Claremont, Calif., October 21, 1994). This emphasis on what people do, not only what they say, follows an approach charted by such theorists as Pierre Bourdieu and Anthony Giddens.

4. See my discussion of the possibilities of vernacular architecture in this setting as a contribution to an American Islamic architecture (Metcalf 1989). Neighbors raised objections based on noise, traffic, neighborhood homogeneity, and architecture at public hearings on the proposed mosque (cf. John Eade’s essay, chapter 12 below).

5. Clifford Geertz, oral comments at a conference to consider approaches to organizing an exhibit on Islamic cities/space (Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., June 17–18, 1991).

6. These patterns may suggest the limitations of using the mosque as a focus for study of Muslim religious life (as is done in Haddad and Lummis 1987).

7. Meridian Productions produced a significant variation on this variety of films on rituals for the BBC with its “The Guests of God,” first shown June 1991. This film on hajj does indeed focus on Europe, but the central figures are converts, not migrants, and the converts are based in Germany, not England.

8. Prepared by Dr. Khalid Duran, the films emphasize the behavior of privileged participants, nostalgic about, but distant from, customary observations. Thus, “Care was taken to avoid the more popular events, which can often be outrageous.” A third film, on ‘Id al-Adha, was in fact filmed in Germany because Turkish officials feared that outmoded “bloody customs” might be included and prohibited filming in Turkey itself.

9. BHRU interview CO83, 1986. The interview itself suggests something of the alien world in which an immigrant is likely to live. With all the best will in the world, the interviewer’s very questions suggest the stereotypes widely held about Islam: they include queries about the repression of women, how the interviewee feels about the need for religious change, and whether she believes the West is more materialist than the “East.” She in fact does not buy into any of these themes: women are fine; Islam does not need to change (Muslims do), and everyone wants to live comfortably. The interviewer (or the typist), transcribing a description of the five pillars, turns the fast into “Rosa [Arabic: roza], the mother [month?] of Ramzan.”

10. For a worldly failure who, like “all Moroccans dream[ed] of getting a passport and working in Europe” (p. 88), went there from 1964 to 1973, but ultimately came back, the azan became a poignant symbol of Muslim space. “Sometimes I feel sad because I have no son and no house of my own. Then I hear the call to prayer and it washes my heart .…I was never happy working in France and Belgium because I missed hearing the call to prayer” (Munson 1984: 82).

11. Jacques Waardenburg (1988) ventures to predict a future “Islam without ethnicity” in large part as a result of the heterogeneity produced by migration, but many might doubt the likelihood of any single trajectory and expect variations depending on the contexts that emerge.

12. They are so listed on the letterhead of the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham.

13. This is the experience of Philip Lewis, the (Anglican) bishop of Bradford’s advisor on community relations, who regularly meets ecumenically oriented visiting delegations (personal communication, July 1991).

14. On the Honeyford affair, see Murphy 1987, Kureishi 1986, and Ruthven 1990: 75–80. Yunas Samad (1991) explains the prominent role of Bradford in the Rushdie affair in large part as owed to the organization and experience of the Council of Mosques. A thinly disguised docudrama about the Honeyford affair was broadcast on British television on December 16, 1991.

15. For example, Benjamin Metcalf, then aged five, at the Playhouse School, New Delhi, 1981–82.

16. Werbner’s description of the “interhousehold women-centered spirituality,” focused on Qur’an reading and food sacrifice, among Muslims in Manchester complements Qureshi’s study of Canadian domestic rituals below (Werbner 1988).

17. The Social Science Research Council has in recent years sought to stimulate a wide range of projects on transnational phenomena (Hershberg 1992).


Preferred Citation: Metcalf, Barbara Daly, editor. Making Muslim Space in North America and Europe. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1996 1996.