Transnational Islam and Muslim Politics: Policies, Identities, and Ideologies
From Transnational Islamic Movements to Individual Religiosity: The Crisis of Religious Authority in Western European Muslim CommunitiesBaptiste Brodard
Islam has evolved in form over recent decades in Western European countries, where its lack of institutionalization and official representation allow different ideological trends, movements, and religious organizations to compete for orthodoxy. This paper first proposes to synthesize the development of major religious trends within Islamic communities in the West over the last three decades. It drafts a tripartite periodization of dominant Islamic trends represented by Embassy Islam, transnational religious movements, and new types of local grassroots associations that are often youth-driven and mostly independent from Islamic organizations. The study assesses how these three steps represent a common evolution across various European countries. The paper first argues for a distinction between the Islam of the initial migrants and the Islam promoted by transnational religious organizations such as the Tablighi, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the various currents of Salafism. Secondly, it shows how even these transnational movements and the organizations underpinning them have already lost much influence due to Muslim citizens launching many Islamic associations and charities totally independent of both transnational religious movements and foreign religious organizations. Often associated with reformism, this trend implies a religious and ideological rupture with previous religious institutions. Different factors should be considered such as a global crisis of authority in Islam, the diversification and multiplication of religious sources of knowledge, and finally an individualization of religiosity in order to help understand the transition from the domination of transnational Islamic movements to the multiplication of religious actors and ideologies. Finally, this paper aims to inspire further research to explore new ways of understanding Islam in the West and to understand the latest interactions among Islamic schools of thought, ideologies, theology, and activism within social and political spheres.