Production of Islamic Knowledge in the European Diaspora: A Case Study of Digital Texts from a British Muslim Halal Certifier
46 Pages Posted: 12 May 2017 Last revised: 14 May 2017
Date Written: May 30, 2016
Conceptions of Muslim identity among Muslim communities in the United Kingdom reflect marked variation, as they must negotiate social, cultural, and religious differences daily. British Muslims’ own regulation of the production, sale, and distribution of religiously permissible (halāl) foodstuffs thus provides a salient ground for the study of British Muslim identities. Building on the methodologies of a genealogy of scholars who have used written discourses as indices of identity — notably Anderson, Bhabha, Chatterjee, and Messick — this paper examines the digital textual archive of the Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC), one of the two most influential halāl-authenticating bodies in the U.K. The documents reveal British Muslims’ concern for adaptation to the broader British society on the one hand, and a concern for the preservation of their religiosity on the other — a seemingly paradoxical combination that the HMC integrates successfully through literal, rhetorical, and performative means. The HMC’s adaptation of Islamic law ultimately serves as an illuminating case study of the resilience of religious knowledge in diasporic settings.
Keywords: Islam, diaspora, shari'a, halal, identity
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