scientist as moving outside of the prescribed mode of discourse,
16 and by
another as constituting identity based on a "new operative Archimedean
17 In contrast to most immigrant Muslim women, for the American
convert or "new" Muslim, religious identity is a central issue.
Among such women an "elective affinity"
18 exists, which matches styles or
generational patterns within American culture with possible perceptions of
Muslim identity. Such perceptions transcend any specific ethnic culture, but
rather involve interpretations of the essence of how to be Muslim—activist,
Sufi, or whatever. For the majority of American Muslims the adaptation and
rationalization of new patterns of social interaction, marriage, and home life
are inspired by Islamic norms.
In many cases the challenge of being Muslim in America calls for an ijtihad
(interpretation of Islamic law and values), which in its radical nature reasserts
the initial impetus of the Islamic revelation to break down tribal/ethnic identifications. The question of whether this will have a significant impact on the
intellectual and religious life of the larger world community, or whether
assimilation is the ultimate destiny of this group will be answered by the
Edward H. Spicer, "Acculturation," in Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 1
( New York: Macmillan, 1968), pp. 21-26.
That is, Muslims in America (or Europe) have chosen to leave "dar al-islam"
(abode of submission), the Islamic order where at least in theory Islamic law is
implemented and Muslim norms are upheld, and to permanently reside in a non‐
Muslim environment. For a majority this choice is made primarily on the basis of
Yvonne Haddad, "Muslims in Canada: A Preliminary Study," in Religion and
eds. Harold Coward and Leslie Kawamura ( Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1978), pp. 71
For example, the large Islamic Center of Quebec in St. Laurent, Masjid al‐
Umma, and Fatima Mosque in the downtown area, the South Shore, Pierrefonds, and
West Island Islamic Centers, and Twelver Shi'a and Isma'ili Muslim Congregations.
Arnold Van Gennep, The Rites of Passage ( Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1960), pp. 189-194.
Victor Turner, The Ritual Process ( Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1977), pp. 94-130.
Ronald Robertson, in a sociological analysis of "Conversion and Cultural
Change" ( Meaning and Change: Explorations in the Cultural Sociology of Modern
Societies [ New York: New York University Press, 1978]) indicates a cultural shift in that
"the extreme conceptions of the fluidity of identities, lifestyles and states of consciousness are already waning and will continue to wane vis-à-vis their 1960s and early 1970s
highpoint." He further proposes that the mid-1970s concern with life-cycle issues,
theories of adult development, and moral and cognitive development "suggest above all
a concern with greater fixity in the sphere of individual patterns of living."