Seven studies investigate the role of religious Muslim groups,
movements, and institutions in European countries in an attempt
to understand the extent to which Muslims will shape the emerging
European identity. For comparative reasons, links with their countries
and cultures of origin in Africa and Asia will be considered.
The results should contribute to an understanding of whether
and how Muslims in Europe can aspire to a religious lifestyle
and what obstacles might arise in the process. Muslim notions
of Europe, the position practising Muslims might adopt there,
and the ideas and concepts they pursue will be explored. In addition,
Muslim links with countries of origin will be studied to establish
the impact societies dominated by Islam might have on their concepts
and ideas for a life guided by religion in the secular European
The research is designed as a series of comparative and complementary
case studies focusing on
- religious assets of individual Islamic projects;
- “European identity” as understood by Islamic
- the institutional and conceptual socialisation of Islamic
- the type of links supported by their countries of origin
in Asia and Africa.
Claims by Islamic activists to a life guided by religion in the
European public sphere have been strongly contested by both secular
and Christian representatives. While some representatives of Islamic
groups aspire to become fully recognised members of European societies,
several Christian and secular activists regard their claims to
a public Islamic lifestyle as a denial of European identity and
values. It is mainly the second and third generation of Muslim
migrants who strive for full participation in European political
and social affairs.
Against this background, the seven case studies examine different
religious lifestyles, and their discourses and institutions. Religious
Islamic activists are often accused of forming “parallel
societies”, with values and norms of “foreign cultures”,
instead of “integrating” themselves into European
societies. The research project attempts to dissect such commonplace
stereotypes, analysing in detail the interaction and connections
between "host societies" and “societies of origin”.
The project proceeds on the hypothesis that new types of Islamic
religiosity are developing in Europe as a result of close interaction
between Muslims and their European “host societies”.
Accordingly, links of Muslim migrants in Europe to their “societies
of origin” and transnational relations should not be treated
primarily as a potential source of conflict but as a future contribution
to the shaping of a European Islamic identity.
The project will seek to actively disseminate information about
ongoing research and its results to a wider European public, including
the media, intellectuals, and researchers, as well as political
and economic decision-makers. It is hoped that research and the
desired interaction with the public will be conducive to a broader
dialogue, leading to more active participation of Islamic minorities
in European political and social life.
The project would like to shed light on the dynamics of Islam
in Europe by preparing publications on the social and religious
programmes of individual Islamic groups. It thereby seeks to bring
about a nuanced understanding of the state of Muslim integration
in European societies, and the obstacles and prospects involved.
It is intended to hold quarterly public functions that will act
as a forum for discussion and information. There are also plans
to conduct three academic conferences at which research results
will be summarised and subsequently published.