Religious Transnationalism and Identity


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  • Title: Religious Transnationalism and Identity: A Cultural Approach to the Concept of the "Ummah" in Islam
  • Author(s): Fatma Taher
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: New Directions in the Humanities
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies
  • Keywords: Clash of Civilization, Cultural Conflicts, Globalization, Transnationalism, Muslim Brotherhood
  • Volume: 12
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2014
  • ISSN: 2327-0055 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-2376 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Taher, Fatma. 2014. "Religious Transnationalism and Identity: A Cultural Approach to the Concept of the "Ummah" in Islam." The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies 12 (2): 1-12. doi:10.18848/2327-0055/CGP/v12i02/58277.
  • Extent: 12 pages


Though Edward Said welcomes the mobility of travelling, which he believes unlocks intellectual and cultural formations, he still cautions against dogmatism. In their movement across the territories of their nation-state, migrants pave the way for the deterritorialization of their cultures, while at the same time, trying to maintain the preciousness and necessity of ‘identity,’ as Kristeva maintains. Transnationalism and transnational reactions, which have recently attracted considerable research, can thus be considered as power relations that influence the policies of international actors; where the nation-state remains the most powerful actor in this system, as Sunday Tarrow (2005) asserts. Religion as a human experience is one of the terms directly related to transnationalism. Since their inception, all religions knew no boundaries. They thus play a substantial role in creating international connections and universal identities. The concept of the ‘'Ummah'’, as a religious notion in Islam, whether as a base for political entity by transnational groups, a socio-cultural entity by transnational humanitarian activists, or even a socio-religious entity, is very crucial in this regard. The present paper attempts to analyze the transnational religious practices in Islam, highlighting the concept of 'Ummah' and focusing on the Muslim Brothers as a case study. In this respect the paper will attempt an analysis of many issues: Does the notion of the ‘'Ummah'’ weaken the sense of attachment for the diasporic Muslim minority communities or the concept of nation-state? Does it contradict with ‘identity’? How does transnationalism affect the continuities and transformation of religious identity and practices of the Muslim individual? How much do the individual’s circumstances produce changes in the substance and function of religious ideas and meanings as Williams (2009) maintains?