Book release: Imams in Western Europe

Hashas, Mohammed, Jan Jaap de Ruiter, and Niels Valdemar Vinding (eds), Imams in Western Europe: Developments, Transformations, and Institutional Challenges. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018 doi: 10.5117/9789462983830/ch01

This book presents an omnibus academic inquiry into contemporary Islamic religious authority with a focus on imams and the imamate – on which, until now, not much has been written in English. Our ambition is to contribute deeper and more fruitful analyses of the changes and challenges experienced by this source of religious authority in the context of the secular-liberal societies of Western Europe since the Second World War and the subsequent migration and refugee flows. At the same time, this research also serves to highlight secular-liberal institutions and their adaptation, or lack thereof, to the multiculturalism that characterizes Western European states. The social facts of globalization, transnational migration, and various interpretations of secularism have challenged the visibility of religion in the public sphere in Western societies. This has most importantly and urgently required religious authorities to revisit their organization, governance, and internal hierarchy, and Islamic religious authority is no exception. Throughout the Muslim-majority countries and in Europe, Islamic religious authority is still struggling to negotiate its place among the institutions of the modern state in the ‘secular age’ in the words of Charles Taylor (2007). The imamate is one of the institutions that are currently experiencing a shift of roles and functions in society. Scholars and historians of religion in particular are attentive to this shift.
“This fascinating book on imams in Western Europe is well timed to respond to the European discourse on Islam and Muslims, coming at a time of remarkable developments in the imam as a concept, as a religious institution, and as an authority for the Muslims of Western Europe.” – Jørgen S. Nielsen, Professor, Universities of Birmingham and Copenhagen.

The book is the result of our conference on imams from 2014, held in Rome at LUISS Guido Carli University & John Cabot American University

Here is a link to the introduction, preface and list of contents: