This research focuses on Dutch Muslim women who chose to practice Islam, whether they were born Muslim (‘Newly Practicing Muslims’) or they chose to convert (‘New Muslims’). This study takes place in a context, the Netherlands, where Islam is popularly considered by the native Dutch population, as a religion oppressive to women. How do these Dutch Muslim women build their identity in a way that it is both Dutch and Muslim? Do they mix Dutch parameters in their Muslim identity, while at the same time, inter-splicing Islamic principles in their Dutch sense of self? This study is based on an ethnography conducted in the city of Amsterdam from September to October 2009, which combines insights taken from in-depth interviews with Dutch Muslim women, observations from Quranic and Religious classes, observations in a mosque, and one-time events occurring during the month of Ramadan. This paper argues that, in the context of being Dutch and Muslim, women express their agency, which is their ability to choose and act in social action: they push the limits of archetypal Dutch identity while simultaneously stretching the meaning of Islam to craft their own identity, one that is influenced by themes of immigration, belongingness, religious knowledge, higher education and gender.
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