Self-Unfolding in Islam – Being Muslim in the Dichotomy of Ideal and Reality

This research is based on my particular interest in conflicts related to religious identity. It explores inner struggles of Muslims living in Germany and analyzes which social roles are hindering the process of self-unfolding. I apply methods of the “Theatre for Living” in order to give socially constructed and religiously founded ideals and roles a shape and a voice. Hence, this research allows for deeper insights into very intimate self-experiences of Muslims. It shows that Muslims are not only struggling with internalized voices of moral judgment that inhibit a person, but also with clichés that partially exist in non-Muslim and Muslim societies. The empirical analysis reveals subtle, subconscious processes and indicates how personal experiences reflect broader social conflicts. I introduce a transrational approach to Islam, which points towards the potential of conflict transformation within the framework of Islam. That is to integrate spiritual aspects of religion with the tradition of reason.

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The presented thesis mirrors part of my own journey as a young Muslim woman. I build the research interest on my experiences gained in Egypt and Germany, weave in personal struggles that are linked to my religious identity and finally visualize my own constructed ideals and role images, such as the idea of a pious woman who remains silent about societal taboos. The process of writing this research and analyzing the research questions resembles a very personal process of self-unfolding, of liberation and of finding a voice to speak about the unspeakable.

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