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Born-again Muslims? Intra-religious conversion and the Tablighi Jama'at

Timol, Riyaz ORCID: 2022. Born-again Muslims? Intra-religious conversion and the Tablighi Jama'at. Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 33 (3) , pp. 281-306. 10.1080/09596410.2022.2049110

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Since its inception in 1920s British India, the Tablighi Jama’at (TJ) has grown into a global movement of faith renewal, animating grassroots Muslim communities around the world. Based on sustained ethnographic fieldwork with the British branch of the movement, this article proposes a concept of ‘intra-religious conversion’ to capture a key modality of its impact in everyday Muslim lives. By this is denoted a shift from a nominal form of Islamic practice to one of passionate devotion. Multiple interview narratives are presented to dissect the conversion experience through a series of precipitating push and pull factors, of which ‘affective ties’ and ‘intensive interaction’ emerge as key. Three key reasons for TJ’s enduring appeal to British-born male Muslims are suggested: (1) its propensity to transform the individual’s relationship with his religion from a ‘passive consumer’ to an ‘active purveyor’; (2) its fostering of strong bonds of belonging and brotherhood; (3) its ability to offer certainty in a world of flux. The findings challenge previous scholarship on British TJ by demonstrating its ongoing popularity among successive generations of Muslims, though reasons why followers may drift away from the movement after undergoing life-changing intra-religious conversion experiences are also explored.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 0959-6410
Date of Acceptance: 1 March 2022
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2022 12:52

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