British converts to Islam: continuity, change and religiosity in religious identity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Consideration of the growing phenomenon of converts to Islam in Britain is emerging at the moment at which converts are entering the popular imagination through the dominant negativised tropes of threat and betrayal. In this context, the religious aspect of conversion is feared, diminished and contained, or is ignored. Based on an emphasis on either change or continuity, the result is that these identities are conceptualised within the hybrid or multiple, with little understanding of the critical properties of religiosity. Based on narrative interviews with British converts to Islam, this article argues that rather than emphasising continuity or change, it is in understandings of the dynamics between continuity and change that important facets of a religious identity emerge as the central problematic of conversion. The concept of congruity is offered to reflect this. It is further argued that religiosity as the basis of this continuity better captures converts’ religious identities. Simmel’s notion of religiosity is employed to make sense of these identities. Through this notion, Simmel’s thought enables a congruity to be read that transcends the apparent contradiction between continuity and change.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Contemporary Religion
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Nov 2019


  • British converts to Islam
  • continuity and change
  • Simmel
  • religiosity
  • religious conversion
  • religious identity


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