Document Type

Working Paper


Spring 5-2020


Muslim youth, identity construction, inter-generational differences




Politics and Social Change | Sociology of Religion


This research explores how young Muslims internalize, understand, and reconcile with competing interpretations of Islam in the diverse ummah of the United States. This ethnographic study is intended to contribute to the understanding of Muslim youth identity construction in the United States among foreign and second-generation Muslims. In addition, the inclusion of foreign participants (i.e. non U.S citizens) included in the sample provide added insight to how temporary relocation affects religious identity, a phenomenon relatively absent in existing scholarship. Finally, this investigation broadens the sociological understanding of religious identity construction and inter-generational differences between immigrant and second- generation Muslims in Western contexts. I begin with providing an overview of how previous scholarship has approached the study of religious identity construction among Western Muslims followed by an overview of my research setting and methods. Following, I present three factors to identity construction among Muslim youth: (i) origins of questioning, (ii) mechanisms for a ‘self-authored search,” and (iii) shared Islamic ethics. I conclude by arguing that the pluralism and competing understandings and practices of Islam pose the greatest challenge in the identity construction of Muslim youth and discuss how this finding both compliments and diverges from existing scholarship in the post-9/11 context.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.