The Baltic Region

2019 Vol. 11 №3

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Cultural Islam in Northern Europe



In this study, we aim to analyse the position of cultural Islam in Northern European countries. To this end, we examine publications in major print media. Content analysis of relevant publications gives a detailed picture of narratives produced in mass consciousness as a reaction to the presence of Islam at the local and regional level and makes it possible to identify individual trends in the evaluation of such narratives in both scientific and popular analytical literature. The growing secularization of Islamic communities in Northern Europe and changes in the value-driven behavioural algorithms of believers lead both to the polarization of Islam and changes in attitudes to Islam from outside the religion. Studies into the factors affecting the dynamics of this phenomenon have both theoretical and practical significance since they help to evaluate the most promising forms of cooperation within regional collaborations and national programmes for international partnership. The forces promoting the cultural Islam project position it as an antidote for political and radical Islam. At the same time, the main factor preventing the legitimation of cultural Islam across immigrant Moslem groups (or, more precisely, communities, i.e. associations of people originating from countries where Muslims predominate) is the relevant isolatedness of those groups and their commitment to the Ummah. The novelty of research into how Islam and culture interact within those groups is closely associated with the goal of establishing whether cultural Islam is viable as a phenomenon of collective consciousness and whether it meets the following requirements: 1) satisfying the essential need for preserving the tradition and 2) ensuring flexible adaptation to a foreign cultural context. Our analysis of the data obtained has led us to conclude that cultural Islam is gaining ground within immigrant communities and associations. This can be viewed as a practical contribution to studies into the dynamics and mechanisms of adaptation, acculturation, and, perhaps, integration of Muslims and corresponding social groups into the socio-cultural space of Northern European countries.