Choosing Islamic Conservatism: Muslim Youth in Europe and the UK and the Question of Social Cohesion (CIC) aims to understand the appeal of prominent Islamic movements to young Muslims in the UK, France, Germany, Austria and Bosnia.

Funded by a European Research Council Advanced Grant and led by Professor Masooda Bano, CIC is the first research project of its kind that explores the institutional change within these movements in a comparative framework.

Research and public debate regarding the religious beliefs of European Muslims has often been conducted with regards the state, assimilation and secularism. Additionally, research on religiosity and the popularity of conservative Islam in Europe has focused largely on the push factors that drive young Muslims away from a sense of belonging in European societies, but has neglected to address the pull factors of the prominent Islamic movements. This approach fails to create a holistic picture of the complex mechanisms of belief formation. Further, studies often focus on one or two institutions but no work has yet compared the networks and hierarchies of the various conservative strands.

The project "Choosing Islamic Conservatism" will fill the gaps in the existing research by focusing on the appeal of four conservative Islamic movements – Deoband, Salafism, Turkish scholarly networks, and North-African (Maghribi/Maliki) networks – within various sites in the UK, France, Germany, Austria and Bosnia. This multi-sited research project is ambitious and unprecedented in its scope and method. It will produce a holistic and comparative picture of the various conservative Islamic movements within different European contexts.

Working within theories of institutional persistence and change, complementing them with a focus on understanding the significance of ethical and moral agency as discussed in recent studies in the anthropology of Islam, and taking cues from the growing interest in the role of neighbourhoods in religious socialisation, the project will develop a unique approach to understanding the ‘stickiness’ of Islamic conservatism in the West.


Masooda Bano

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