The Formation of Muslim Identity in Europe Essay

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In defining Muslim identity the widely held belief is that religion is the defining element. This is only partly true. Religion is only part of the picture, the normally secondary elements of class, gender and national belonging need to be examined. The issues of religion and identity formation can be explored thusly: differing concepts of religion and Islam should be considered to see how they have present particular frameworks. It is important to note that immigrants have identities other than those associated with their religion. These include ethnic, linguistic and national identities, the experiences of Muslims in France and Britain are contrasted to illustrate this point. The quantitative nature of population studies or census…show more content…
I. Islam and Europe: A History The first ideas of the geographical configuration of Western Europe that have survived in Arabic literature date from the ninth century. Some scholars divided the world into four parts: Europe, Libya, Ethiopia and Scythia. From these and other Arabic and Persian writings it is possible to get a picture of the European scene as it appeared to Muslim eyes before the Crusades (Lewis, 1957). A Muslim scholar in 1068 named Aid ibn Ahmad Qadi wrote a book in Arabic on the categories of nations. The writer divides the nations of humanity into two kinds: those that are concerned with science and those that are not. Said dismisses the northern and southern barbarians of Frankish Europe and holds up the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Arabs. The center of the world was the lands of Islam, which stretched from Spain across North Africa to the Middle East, containing almost all the peoples and centers of ancient civilization (Lewis, 1957). The sources, nature, and stages of growth of Muslim knowledge concerning Western Europe, first in the obscure centuries before the Crusades, then during that great offensive
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