Adaptation and Change among Asian Muslim Immigrants in the West


David Emmanuel Singh

Drawing on a variety of sources, this paper highlights the reality of diverse choices immigrants make as they come to terms with crises. Two theoretical domains are used to explain the disparate responses instead of simply identifying the options adopted by the immigrants and describing them. The first is ‘modernity’ understood here in its expanded sense, i.e.: it is not just an idea unique to the West but that it is ‘variegated’ or ‘multiple’. The second is ‘conversion’, involving the idea of it being a dynamic process, especially for those dealing with crises. The immigrant responses converge around these ideas thus revealing how some of them find answers within Islam (through re-visioning) and others who find them outside Islam (through conversion). This illustrates how ‘Muslim modernity’ expresses itself in the heart of the West but also highlights the agency of some who seek change through a radical affiliation with Christianity and secular humanism. The underlying argument is that Muslim responses are far more diverse and varied than existing literature shows.