Denmark: Many Muslims practice religion on an individual basis

Denmark: Many Muslims practice religion on an individual basis

Via Kristeligt Dagblad (Danish):

A new research project by Phd student Nadia Jeldtoft debunks the myth that all Muslims are very devoted to religion. The project, from the Center for European Islamic Thought at Copenhagen University, was published recently in the Ethnic and Racial Studies journal.

Earlier this year, a study in Nørrebro showed that just 17 out of 100 Muslims interviewed saw religion as important for their sense of self. The trend is confirmed by studies from Germany and Sweden.

"There's a trend where religion is practiced on a more individual basis among Muslims and adapted to everyday life. Instead of the imam saying in the mosque how religion should be carried out, among some Muslims the individual determines how religion is practiced. It's not about what I can do for God, but what God can do for me," explains Phd student Nadia Jeldtoft. As part of her uncompleted doctoral thesis, she carried out quality interviews with 39 non-activist Muslims in both Denmark and Germany.

She explains that many of the Muslims she interviewed display a spiritual religion, where they mediate and use new-age elements.

"some have, for example, a spiritual approach to Ramadan. They think it's good to test their body and test their endurance by fasting," says Nadia Jeldtoft.

Studies have so far focused on Muslims who find their identity in Islam as a reaction to pressure from the surrounding society. But Nadia Jeldtoft stresses that a pragmatic approach to religion can also relate to Muslim seeing themselves as a pressured minority.

"For some Muslims it can be a strategy to try to mimic the majority, when they are pressured," says Nadia Jeldtoft, who stresses that the Muslims who took part in the study don't feel that the debate on Islam deals with them.

"They don't think that the discussion about differences between Danes and Muslims is relevant for them. They think it's problematic that there are some spokespeople from the Muslim community who have a patent on what it means to be Muslims, and they can't recognize themselves in that picture," says Nadia Jeldtoft.