British converts to Islam can be hard to locate in relation to the majority and born Muslim minority in society and can experience rejection from both sides. Based on an ethnic lens and framework, they are conceptualised as ‘in-between’ the two, neither fully one nor the other. This article argues that by foregrounding religious rather than ethnic identity, a different pattern of how converts position themselves in society emerges. To do so it draws on a study of converts’ narratives and investigates the dynamics of how a divide between religion and culture emerges from these narratives. To discuss the dynamics of this, it draws on Simmel’s influential essay The Stranger in order to develop an analytical reorientation that centralises the religious aspect in order to gain a new relational understanding of converts’ belonging as well as the social aspects of the conversion process itself.
- converts to Islam
- religious identity