‘Is This Islamic Enough?’ Intra-Diasporic Secularism and Religious Experience in the Shi'a Iranian Diaspora in London

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This paper explores the relationship between devout Iranian Shi'a in London and an intra-diasporic secularism referred to as ‘non-Islamiosity’—a discourse, sensibility and mode of practice through which some London Iranians construct, experience and live diasporic identity, community and consciousness in a way that marginalises, excludes or eradicates (only) Islam. It is argued that intra-diasporic relations of power vis-à-vis Islam and non-Islamiosity play a pivotal role in shaping the sensibilities and religious experience of devout Iranian Shi'a, for many of whom ‘real life’, to a significant degree, takes place within the diaspora. These Muslims are incapable of ‘othering’ non-Islamiosity in the same way that they can distance themselves from ‘British society’, due to the fact that they have an emotional, moral and political stake in the Iranian diaspora. Thus, they are drawn into a relationship in which they see little choice but—as they describe it—to make concessions to non-Islamiosity.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-78
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number1
Early online date15 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Non-Islamiosity, Concession, Intra-Diasporic, Shi’ism, London Iranians