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Muslims in Motion

Muslims in Motion: Islam and National Identity in the Bangladeshi Diaspora

Nazli Kibria
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Muslims in Motion
    Book Description:

    InMuslims in Motion, Nazli Kibria provides a comparative look at Bangladeshi Muslims in different global contexts--including Britain, the U.S., the Middle East, and Malaysia. Kibria examines international migrant flows from Bangladesh, and considers how such migrations continue to shape Islamization in these areas. Having conducted more than 200 in-depth interviews, she explores how, in societies as different as these, migrant Muslims, in their everyday lives, strive to achieve economic gains, sustain community and family life, and realize a sense of dignity and honor.

    Muslims in Motion offers fresh insights into the prominence of Islam in these communities, especially an Islam defined by fundamentalist movements and ideologies. Kibria also focuses on the complex significance of nationality--with rich analyses of the diaspora, the role of gender and class, and the multiple identities of the migrants, she shows how nationality can be both a critical source of support and also of difficulty for many in their efforts to attain lives of dignity. By bringing to life a vast range of experiences, this book challenges prevailing stereotypes of Muslims.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5088-6
    Subjects: Religion, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. CHAPTER 1 Muslim Migrants, Bangladeshis Abroad
    (pp. 1-10)

    I trace the beginnings of this book to an informal conversation I remember having in the late 1990s. This was during a trip to Bangladesh, the country of my birth. I was at my parents’ house in a middle-class neighborhood of Dhanmondi in Dhaka, the capital city, having tea with friends, a group that included academics, lawyers, and NGO leaders. Eager for their feedback, I expressed an interest in studying the rising prominence in the social and political life of Bangladesh of Islam, in particular an Islam that emphasizes a return to basic principles and the significance of Islamic thought...

    (pp. 11-27)

    Bangladesh, meaning “Bengal nation,” is a low-lying country formed by the alluvial plain of the Ganges-Brahmaputra river system—the largest delta in the world. Located on the Bay of Bengal, between Burma and India, it has a territory of 147,570 square kilometers and a population of over 150 million persons, making it the eighth most populous country in the world and also one of the most densely populated (National Web Portal of Bangladesh n.d.). With a majority Muslim Sunni population (85 to 90 percent) it is also one of the largest Muslim-majority countries in the world, after Indonesia and Pakistan....

  7. CHAPTER 3 Bangladeshi American Dreams
    (pp. 28-56)

    In 2004, I interviewed Dr. Niaz, a Bangladeshi American cardiologist with a thriving medical practice in a suburb of New York.¹ It was three years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. After coming to the United States with a medical degree from Bangladesh in the late 1970s, Dr. Niaz had successfully taken the U.S. medical licensing exam and completed training in cardiology. Everything around Dr. Niaz signaled prosperity and success, from the spacious and luxurious house in which he lived with his wife and three children to the custom-built imported car that he drove with great confidence. In...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Becoming Muslim American
    (pp. 57-78)

    Scholars have long observed how in the United States, a country with high levels of religiosity, religion is generally accepted and, indeed, expected to play an important role in immigrant life. As Raymond Williams writes: “In the U.S., religion is the social category with clearest meaning and acceptance in the host society, so the emphasis on religious affiliation is one of the strategies that allows the immigrant to maintain self identity while simultaneously acquiring community acceptance” (1988: 29). In the United States, then, immigrants are expected to participate in religious institutions. This is so even when, as in the case...

    (pp. 79-112)

    In this chapter, I explore the lives of Bengalis/Bangladeshis in Britain, one of the largest Muslim ethnic groups in Britain today.¹ As we will see, the British Bangladeshi experience is powerfully shaped by a history of deep-seated exclusion from mainstream British society along with limited opportunities for socioeconomic advancement. In responding to these conditions, British Bangladeshis have relied on a strategy of community transnationalism, one that is focused on the maintenance of kinship networks and ongoing connections with the local community of origin in Bangladesh. In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, this strategy has come to face many...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Muslim Encounters in the Global Economy: LABOR MIGRATION TO THE GULF STATES AND MALAYSIA
    (pp. 113-147)

    The very idea of international migration is suggestive of change, of altered social and political circumstances that produce novel opportunities as well as challenges for those who are part of such movements. In the case of Muslim migrants, the experience of becoming a religious minority is widely understood to be the critical shift implied by international migration. Reflecting a predominance of research on Muslim movements to Western societies, there has been much attention to issues of Muslim migrant integration into societies that are largely non-Muslim. But what of the many Muslim international migrations of today that involve the movement of...

    (pp. 148-150)

    The lives of international migrants are shaped by their national origins. This is no less so for international migrants who are Muslims. Indeed, for Bangladeshi Muslim migrants, as we have seen, their country of origin exerts a powerful and multidimensional influence. Among the many ways in which it does so is through the dynamics of global national image and their effects on the reception accorded to migrants of Bangladeshi origin when they are abroad. As a result, migration tends to carry with it for them an enhanced awareness of Bangladesh in the world, specifically its relatively weak position and image...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 151-154)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 155-164)
  14. Index
    (pp. 165-167)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 168-168)