I have known Talip for more than 15 years now but when I last met with him, in the summer of 2007, I was surprised. He seemed like a new man and it appeared to me, at first glance, that he had changed quite a bit over the three years since I had seen him last. To be sure, we had stayed in contact all this time through regular email and occasional phone conversations and so it was not a complete surprise for me to see him so changed. He had kept me informed about the very important changes that had taken place in his life. Talip had always been very proud of his Turkish heritage. His parents had migrated to the southwest of Germany when he was just two years old, had left him with an old German couple during the day while they were working in a local factory, and he had grown up in this German-Turkish world to become a successful technician for advanced radio installations. I had first met him in the fall of 1999 when conducting my dissertation fieldwork through a mutual friend – also a German-Turk – with whom I had gone to high school.
Force of Islam: Muslim Temporal Spacing in the German Diaspora
This text discusses the case of Talip, son of Turkish immigrants to Germany and a recent convert to Islam. Specifically, the text addresses Talip’s reasons for a (re)conversion and the details of his embrace of Islam as the religion of his ancestors. The argument is made that processes of conversion cannot be captured through the conceptualization of different stages or phases except in retrospect. In showing this impossibility, the text further argues that every conversion needs to attach itself or revolve around a specific event that is taken as cathartic for making the move towards the new faith. Attempts that delineate commonalities in processes of conversion and that then speak of phases or stages are able to illuminate the social dimension of this phenomenon. The focus on events, proposed here, is able to much better highlight the idiosyncratic, contingent and personal dimensions of the same phenomenon.
Finding reconciliation between Western and Islamic values will not always be easy but it is possible. P
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