DOI :10.26650/B/SS30AA25.2024.003.007   IUP :10.26650/B/SS30AA25.2024.003.007    Full Text (PDF)

European Converts’ Quest for Transnational Connectivity with the Islamic Ummah

Jaweeda Mansour

Studying the concept of the ummah is appealing in light of transnational Muslim networks’ activities toward operationalizing the essence of ummatic unity. Converts comprise a growing segment of the Muslim ummah in the West. With the ambition of changing the dominant stereotypes of Islam as a non-white religion and its negative imagery in Western mentality, white converts have the potential to contribute to changing the future of the entire Muslim world. This article contributes toward understanding converts’ perception of the ummah. The essence of ummah is seen through transnational Muslim solidarities that are best understood as forms of mobilization for social change premised around a particular set of values or discrepant normative visions and seldom articulate a vision of ummah as a political entity (Mandaville, 2011). Ummah is essential for providing a mechanism for coping with the difficulties converts endure through the course of conversion from their Western community. Converts undergo a re-racializing process where they become non-white or not-quite-white and lose accessibility to white privilege as they had before. As a result, they experience a subtle and discreet form of Islamophobia. Moreover, their religious authenticity is scrutinized lifelong Muslims and racialized because they do not look like a Muslim. They become the other white person who can never be entitled to the ummah, which increases their vulnerability. Practicing the ummah’s principles starts in public spaces that facilitate open discussions and reflections such as mosques. The study suggests empowering the ummah from below in a framework of transnational collaborative partnerships that focus on inclusive Muslim communities to revitalize the essence of the ummah.


  • Akram, E.(2007), Muslim Ummah and its Link with Transnational Muslim Politics, Islamic Studies, Vol. 46, No. 3, pp. 381-415 google scholar
  • Al-Qwidi, M. (2002), Understanding the Stages of Conversion to Islam: The Voices of British Converts, Ph.D. thesis, Leeds: The University of Leeds. google scholar
  • Allen, C. (2010), Islamophobia. Farnham: Ashgate. google scholar
  • Arkoun,M.(1994), Rethinking islam: common question, uncommon answers. Oxford: Westview press. google scholar
  • Buechler, S. M. (1999), Social Movements in Advanced Capitalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. google scholar
  • Bayat, A. (2005), Islamism and Social Movement Theory, Third World Quarterly, 26:6, pp891-908 google scholar
  • Davie,G.(1994), Religion in Britain since 1945-beliving without belonging. Oxford, Blackwell publishers google scholar
  • Darrow, W. R.(1987), Ummah. In The Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 15, pp. 123-125 google scholar
  • Denny, F.M.(1975), The Meaning of Ummah in the Qur‘an, History of Religions15, no. 1, 35-70. google scholar
  • Denny, F.M.(1977), Ummah in the Constitution of Medina. Journal of Near Eastern Studies36, no. 1 :pp39-47. google scholar
  • Denny,F.(2004), Umma” in The Encyclopedia of Islam, New Edition, eds. P.J. Bearman et al (Leiden: Brill, 1979-2004), 10: 862. google scholar
  • Dyer, R. (1997), White: Essays on Race and Culture, New York: Routledge. google scholar
  • Esposito, J.L. and Kalin, I. (2011), Islamophobia: The Challenge of Pluralism in the 21st Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press. google scholar
  • Franks, M. (2000), Crossing the borders of whiteness? White Muslim women who wear the hijab in Britain today. Ethnic and Racial Studies 23(5): 917-929. google scholar
  • Giannakis, E.(1983), The Concept of Ummah. Graeco-Arabica2 :pp 99-111. google scholar
  • Huntington, S.P.(1998). The clash of civilization and the remaking of world order. New York: Simon & Schuster. google scholar
  • International Muslim Students association of Leuven: google scholar
  • Jensen, T.G. (2008), To Be ‘Danish’, Becoming ‘Muslim’: Contestations of National Identity?, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 34:3, 389-409, google scholar
  • Johns, A.H. and Saeedm A. (2002), Muslims in Australia: The building of a community. In: Haddad YY and Smith JI (eds) Muslim Minorities in the West: Visible and Invisible. Oxford: AltaMira, 195-216. google scholar
  • Jouili, J. S. (2014). Refining the Umma in the Shadow of the Republic: Performing Arts and New Islamic Audio-Visual Landscapes in France. Anthropological Quarterly 87(4), pp1079-1104. George Washington University Institute for Ethnographic Research. google scholar
  • Kose, A. (1996), Conversion to Islam: A Study of Native British Converts, London: Kegan Paul. google scholar
  • Krueger, R. A., & Casey, M. A. (2000). Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. google scholar
  • Kruse, H.(1965).The Development of the Concept of Nationality in Islam. Studies in Islam, Vol.2.1: pp7-16. google scholar
  • Kundnani, A. (2007), Integrationism: The politics of anti-Muslim racism. Race and Class 48(4): 24-44. google scholar
  • Laporte, C.(2008). L’Eglise ne fait plus recette. La Libre. 9th July. google scholar
  • Le Soir(2004). L’Europe de bonne foi. 10thDecember. google scholar
  • Mandaville, P. (2001), Transnational Muslim Politics: Reimagining the Umma , London: Routledge, 83-108. google scholar
  • Mandaville, P. (2006). Transnational Muslim Politics: Reimagining the Umma. London: Routledge, google scholar
  • Mandaville, P.(2011). Transnational Muslim solidarities and everyday life, Nations and Nationalism 17 (1), pp7-24. google scholar
  • Melucci, A. 1989. Nomads of the Present: Social Movements and Individual Needs in Contemporary Society. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. google scholar
  • Mohamed, B. and Sciupac, E.(2017). The share of Americans who leave Islam is offset by those who be-come Muslim, Pew Research Center survey of U.S., available online at fact-tank/2018/01/26/the-share-of-americans-who-leave-islam-is-offset-by-those-who-become-muslim/ retrieved 25/6/2019 google scholar
  • Moosavi, L. (2012), ‘British muslim converts performing ‘Authentic Muslimness”’, Performing Islam,1:1, pp. 103-28. google scholar
  • Moosavi, L.(2014). The Racialization of Muslim Converts in Britain and Their Experiences of Islamophobia, Critical Sociology, Sage, Vol. 41(1) 41 -56 google scholar
  • Pedziwiatr, K.(2008). The new Muslim Elites in European Cities: Religion and active social citizenship amongst young organized Muslims in Brussels and London, PhD dissertation submitted to KU Leuven University. google scholar
  • Pipes, D.(1983), In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power (New York: Basic Books Inc.), passim. google scholar
  • Poynting, S. and Mason, V. (2007), The resistible rise of Islamophobia: Anti-Muslim racism in the UK and Australia before 11 September 2001. Journal of Sociology 43(1): 61-86. google scholar
  • Roald, A.S. (2004), New Muslims in the European Context: The Experience of Scandinavian Converts. Leiden: Brill. google scholar
  • Rogozen-Soltar, M.(2012), Managing Muslim Visibility: Conversion, Immigration, and Spanish Imaginaries of Islam, the American Anthropologist, Vol. 114, No. 4, pp. 611-623, google scholar
  • Roy, O. (1992). L’Echec de l’islam politique. Paris: Le Seuil. Translated as The Failure of Political Islam. Camb-ridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994. google scholar
  • Roy, O. (2004[1949]).Globalized Islam: the search for a new Ummah, New York: Columbia university press, google scholar
  • St. John, W. (1999). Focus group interviews. In V. Minichiello, G. Sullivan, K. Greenwood, & R. Axford (Eds.), Handbook for research methods in health sciences (pp. 419-430). Sydney, Australia: Addison-Wesley. google scholar
  • Seyyed H. N.(1999), Islamic Unity—The Ideal and Obstacles in the Way of its Realization, Iqbal Review, 40:1, 3 google scholar
  • Seyyed H.N.(2002), The Heart of Islam, San Francisco: Harper, 160-161. google scholar
  • Sayyid, S. and Vakil, A. (2011), Thinking through Islamophobia: Global Perspectives. London: Hurst and Co. google scholar
  • Sj0rslev, I. (2004), Alterity as celebration, alterity as threat: a comparison of grammars between Brazil and Denmark, in Baumann, G. and Gingrich, A. (eds) Grammars of Identity/Alterity: A Structural Approach. New York: Berghahn, 7998. google scholar
  • Tourage, M.(2013), Performing belief and reviving Islam: Prominent (white male) converts in Muslim revival conventions, Performing Islam Vol.1:2, pp207-226 google scholar
  • Van Manen, M. (1997), Researching lived experience: Human science for an action sensitive pedagogy (2nd ed.). London: Althouse Press. google scholar
  • Van Nieuwkerk, K. (2006), Women Embracing Islam: Gender and Conversion in the West, Austin, TX: Uni-versity of Texas Press. google scholar
  • Watt, W.M.(1956), Muhammad at Medina, Oxford; Oxford University Press,pp 238-44 google scholar
  • Wilson, G. W. (2010), The Butterfly Mosque: A Young Woman’s Journey to Love and Islam, Toronto: McC-lelland Stewart. google scholar
  • Zebiri,K.(2008), British Muslim converts: Choosing alternative lives, Oneworld Oxford google scholar


Istanbul University Press aims to contribute to the dissemination of ever growing scientific knowledge through publication of high quality scientific journals and books in accordance with the international publishing standards and ethics. Istanbul University Press follows an open access, non-commercial, scholarly publishing.