Transnational Islam and Muslim Politics: Policies, Identities, and Ideologies
European Converts’ Quest for Transnational Connectivity with the Islamic UmmahJaweeda 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.