Conversion and Religious Habitus: The Experiences of Irish Women Converts to Islam in the Pre-Celtic Tiger Era

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This article discusses the conversion narratives of Irish women and their reconstruction of the different stages of their lives before converting ultimately to Islam in Ireland of the 1980s. By looking at the converts' accounts of their past, in particular their emphasis on the role Catholicism had played in their upbringing, the article asserts that the image Irish women had of themselves and of life cannot be separated from the Catholic Church's understanding of women and their lives. Using Pierre Bourdieu's understanding of religious habitus to examine the women's lives before converting to Islam, the article illustrates the influence of the converts' former Catholic habitus on their particular approach to Islam, particularly the specific Salafi branch they have adopted. Unlike Olivier Roy who observes a characteristically Protestant approach among Salafi Muslims, Irish women converts display a Catholic approach to Salafism, thereby exemplifying that conversions do not necessarily entail a radical rupture from the past but often a continuation of existing beliefs and practices.


Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalJournal of Muslim Minority Affairs
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011


  • muslim women, Ireland, conversion