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Wednesday, November 18, 2020 at 4:30pm to 5:45pmVirtual Event
‘Our parents couldn’t teach us what Islam actually is!’ This assertion, made by a 24-year-old youth, epitomizes the critical stance of second-generation Italian-Bangladeshis towards the religiosity of first-generation migrants. Based on ethnographic research within the Bangladeshi community in Rome, this presentation illustrates the apparently oxymoronic characteristics of a discourse of Muslim-ness which, despite stressing the importance of a return to the primary sources of Islam, combines this revivalist attitude with a peculiar emphasis on ‘integration’, and with modernist positions. In fact, for these youths, the religion practiced by the adults is both ‘impure’, i.e. an Islam too much influenced by the ‘Bangladeshi culture’, and ‘not integrated’ in the European context, i.e. an Islam incapable of offering to the Italian society a modern, and reassuring, image of Muslim people, and consequently unable to cope with a growing Islamophobia. I will show how this counter-intuitive combination is not only inspired by the teachings of Tariq Ramadan, and by his idea of a ‘European Islam’, but first and foremost it is grounded in the concrete life conditions of Muslim youths who are both well-integrated in the Italian society and animated by religious zeal. In this way, I seek to shed light on the mutual entanglement of religious stances and life experiences, and to highlight the limits of what Samuli Schielke calls ‘exceptionalist’ and ‘literalist’ approaches to the study of religion.