Hijabs and Beards: Cultural, Religious, Ethnic identities and conflicts in the Muslim Diaspora

Author Name

Amina Hussain

Author Address

Junior Research Fellow at the University of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, [email protected]


Muslim Diaspora


Post 9/11,  the subsequent war on the terror and the rise of Islamophobia has led toan extreme rhetoric of cultural intolerance. The word Terrorism has become synonymous with Islam and the western media reperesentations of muslims and Islam as the ‘other’, radical ,alien race incompatabile with the western idea of civilization has made the Samuel Huntington’s theory of the ‘clash of civilization’ seems real in the form of hardliners like Donal Trump with their explicit anti muslim sentiments and policies.

My paper aims to explore and interrogate such stereotypes in the wake of growing xenophobia and islamophobia, with the unthinkable Brexit( Britain exit from EU after the refrendom,2016), mainly on the premises of immigration control at the time when the globalisation and multiculturalism are extolled as the only way forward for a plural progressive society, one does wonder where does this one of the largest cultural and religious also most vilified diaspora stands in the west.

In examining muslim diaspora I will highlight the most neglected fact or lets say the most horrid western assumption  that muslim diasporic community is a monolith, completely overriding their cultural, ethnic and racial variables thereby ignoring the internal differences and the growing dynamism in the community. The ban on the hijab in France, growing number of  racial attacks in US and the increase in the anti muslim fiction like Ian McEwan’s Saturday, Don DeLilo’s Falling Man and Updike’s The Terrorist negotiate the Muslim characters as fanatic ‘other’, reinforcing the cultural typecast. In an interesting ‘writing back’ analogy, we see an arresting trend of muslim diasporic writers’s with the more nuanced and profound analysis of the muslim diasporic experience in the novels like The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid and many more.

The paper will also revaluate Multuculturalism in theory and practice along with the process of immigrants integration and assimilation.  Though Muslim Diaspora in the West is a thriving community beset with its unique opportunities and challenges, the concept of migration itself is neither new nor alien to the community. The Islamic concept of hijrat(migration)or diaspora is very central to the very evolution of the early muslim communities and hence makes diaspora an ingrained experience. 


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