Considered today as a global religion, the origin of Islam and its dissemination throughout the world is intrinsically related to human migration. It was indeed that, in the face of hostility and religious persecution, the first Muslims relocated themselves from Makkah to Madinah during the 7th century CE, leading to a fundamental moment in their history.
Although the spread of the Islamic faith across the west in the years after the Prophet Muhammad’s death was associated to economic trade and territorial conquest rather than exile, exceptional events in time (political stagnation and subsequent demise of the caliphates to other global powers, European imperialism, forced trade of African Muslims to the Americas, war, etc.) influenced an involuntary mass dispersion of Muslim population from their native regions.
Today’s researchers define a diaspora group according to a set of parameters that includes a shared cultural identity, race, ethnicity, and a connection to the place of origin. However, Muslims are not only described as diasporic just for their shared beliefs and practices, their religious connection to Makkah or their history of expansion, but rather the consciousness that they all share as a global community (Umma) that transcends ethnic, social class, language, and national boundaries through prayer (Salah). It is the ritual of Salah that gives the Muslims that sense of identity as a collective no matter the place where they are located or the situation they are confronting.
In recent years, it is the re-emergence of Muslim migration to Europe and America, and in consequence, the feeling of marginalization, hostility, and discrimination they believe are subject to in western countries, mostly because of fears about terrorism and religious extremism after the events of September 11th, 2001, that has to strengthen this shared consciousness as a universal community.
Galtung, J. “The Muslim diaspora in Europe and the USA”. Fondation Cordoue de Genéve, 2012. www.cordoue.ch/publications-mega/research-papers/341-the-muslim-diaspora-in -europe-and-the-usa. Accessed 23 October, 2018.
McLoughlin, S. “Imagining a Muslim Diaspora in Britain? Islamic consciousness and homelands old and new”. White Rose Research Online, 2015. eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/93709/8/McLoughlin%20New%20Muslims%20Final.pdf. Accessed 23 October, 2018
Shakur, A. “The sources of identity in the Islamic diaspora”. Islamicity, 2013. www.islamicity.org/5262/the-sources-of-identity-in-the-islamic-diaspora. Accesed 23 October, 2018.
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