Islam moves West: religious change in the first and second generations

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2012


What happens to the religious identity, belief, and practice of Muslims who settle in Western countries? Do they, or their children and subsequent generations, gradually become more secular? Or do they react against the dominant ethos and perceived prejudice by becoming more religious? We review recent research that touches on these questions. Most Muslim immigrants outside the United States come from rural areas of less developed countries where religiosity is higher than in the receiving societies. Residence in areas of high coethnic concentration, support from religious communities, and religious endogamy help to maintain religious commitment. The situation is more complicated for the second generation. Western culture has an influence, but structural integration does not necessarily reduce religiosity. Some children of immigrants try to follow a “real” Islam that has been purified of culturally specific practices. Hostility toward Muslims may lead some to react by increasing their own religious involvement.

Published in

Annual Review of Sociology

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 38 , p.525 -552






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