Remembering the Umma in the Confines of the Nation State

  • Faiz Sheikh
  • Samantha May
Part of the Migration, Diasporas and Citizenship book series (MDC)


The chapter presents one framework of political formation, the umma, understood here as the global community of Muslims, and overlays this historical and contemporary assembly on that of the liberal citizenship of the nation state. It argues that the umma disrupts some of the assumptions of liberal citizenship, specifically the role of the individual and the secular characters of that citizenship. Such disruption is achieved through drawing on pre-colonial memories. In relation to the wider discussion on diasporic and transnational understandings of religious culture within established populations, this chapter traces how Muslims who settle in European societies interact with the norms of liberal citizenship found therein. It concludes that notions of citizenship as derived from historical imaginings of the umma can nonetheless largely accommodate themselves alongside a framework of liberal citizenship. Transnational Muslim solidarity or community does not entail an actual threat to liberal citizenship with regards to Muslims living in European countries, but it does question the liberal theoretical position regarding how communities are formed, presenting challenges to individualism.


Legal Pluralism Liberal Notion Political Sovereignty Liberal Citizenship Anic Verse 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Faiz Sheikh and Samantha May 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Faiz Sheikh
  • Samantha May

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