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Religious Conversion and Kinship Cohesion: Intermarriage Amongst British Pakistani Muslims

Issue: Vol 2 No. 1 (2018)

Journal: Interreligious Studies and Intercultural Theology

Subject Areas:

DOI: 10.1558/isit.32187


This paper seeks to reveal the perceived significance of religious conversion in order to maintain social cohesion within British Pakistani Muslim kinship structures. The alternative to conversion is the prospect of re-structuring of kinship relations and social mores amongst British Pakistani Muslim communities, if indeed more individuals marry outside of Islam over time. Utilising ethnographic data, the author indicates that religious identity is meaningful for the cohesion of Pakistani Muslim kinship structures in Britain, not only for ideological reasons, but also for economic purposes. This paper begins its focus from an anthropological discussion of the role of kinship alliances. It then explores the various manifestations of religious conversion to Islam within the framework of intermarriage and kinship relations, examining contexts of gender responsibility and “spirituality.” Data collection concerning this endeavour was carried out qualitatively over the course of a year within a larger ethnographic study of British Pakistani Muslim marriages, and with a variety of respondents from diverse contexts and situations in life, but all of whom identify with British Pakistani Muslim belonging and with the general understanding of being in an mixed relationship, inclusive of British legal civil unions, nikah (legal sharia marriage contracts), and co-habiting relationships.

Author: Audrey Allas

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