Islam As “Everyday Lived Religion”: A Case Study of Japanese Muslim Women Converts

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Satoshi ADACHI, Kindai University, Japan
This presentation aims to describe how Japanese Muslim women converts practice Islam and manage overt and covert conflicts on their identities and social relations with non-Muslims as well as with their foreign Muslim husbands. In the analysis, I adopt a theoretical framework of “everyday lived religion,” which focuses on the “thinking and doing of lay men and women,” rather than on religious leaders and religious normative statements. This approach helps understand Japanese Muslim women converts who lack religious support from communities and are forced to manage their religious lives by themselves. Based on data from in-depth interviews with 21 Japanese Muslim women converts, I found that they deal with daily issues, both in their workplace and at home, in an imaginative and original manner. In some cases, they make use of the stereotypes associated with Islam to convince their colleagues about their religious duties in the workplace. In other cases, they keep from their husbands information that may cause conflicts between them, especially when related to halam (things not permitted in Islam), or even make use of Islamic teachings in order to avoid their husbands’ control on them. This result shows that Japanese Muslim women converts struggle to maintain a balance between being Japanese and being Muslim, thus mobilizing various resources and tactics in order to do so. For these women, Islam is neither what is indoctrinated by religious authorities and their husbands nor learned systematically in study circles or mosques, but rather like bricolage, i.e., created according to their needs in daily life. These findings suggest that Islam, in the globalized age, can survive as everyday lived religion which is practiced and produced daily in different ways by common believers, including these converts.