CECI n'est pas EXECUTE Hamzi Khateb

Hamzi Khateb

Hamzi Khateb

PhD Student
Field(s): Sociology
Institutional affiliation(s): EHESS

Professional contact information


Dissertation director: Michel Boivin

PhD program: EHESS - Sociology

Initial registration: 2014


The Moral Responsibility of Converts to Islam, between Islamic Norms and Secularism


After the "ṧahada" (the testimony of faith), which is the first pillar of Islam, conversion requires the new Muslim to obey the laws and rules inspired by the Qur'ân and the prophetic tradition (Sunna). It implies following a set of norms related to the religious practice that a Muslim commits himself to respect. This thesis analyzes cases of conversion, while taking into account the family and social origins of each convert. It examines the changes in the lives of these new Muslims, following their conversion. From this point of view, the question is whether, in the case of converts, such a change leads to dilemmas related to the pre-conversion respect of norms in a secular country, and whether or not these dilemmas are sustainable or intractable. These dilemmas, far from being limited to a few specific areas (such as wearing the veil, prayers, etc.), extend to the much broader field of the subject’s existence, in its complexity. This thesis also aims at clarifying the overall vision of the place of converts in is the so-called "Islam in France". However, this vision assumes that Islam is thought in association with immigration, whereas these converts are not immigrants. In order to answer these questions, this thesis addresses the question of moral responsibility according to an approach related to the sociology of morality and the sociology of religions, focusing on the respect of Islamic norms in a secular country such as France (Chapters 1 and 2). Therefore, this work presents different theories of conversion and tries to determine how it is possible to think of conversion to Islam according to a new and fruitful approach bringing together sociology of religions and the lesser known, sociology of morality. Based on a series of ethnographic and biographical interviews conducted with several converts over a period of two years, this thesis analyzes the modalities of adaptation to Islam, based on the idea of a moral responsibility before God (Chapters 3 and 4). The question here is to understand how responsibility, as a social object, is shaped by Islamic norms, and formal (and informal) social norms, and how these norms are expressed through the religious actions and practices of Muslim converts in the context of French secularism. This work presents the different branches of the Shari'ah as "Islamic” norms (Chapter 5), which are of a theological nature (affecting the content of faith and practical norms (cults, worship, contracts) at the same time. For converts, these norms become the reference to which they measure their actions and practice assuming a moral responsibility before God, while trying to find compromises with their family members who do not base their lives on the same references and norms. Finally, analyzing converts’ discourses on French secularism, the last chapter (6) of this thesis leads a political reflection on the presence of Islam in France. In this context, it distinguishes two interpretations of laïcité; one of a political nature aimed at separating power from religion, and the other that can be described as "stigmatizing laïcité", perceiving Islam as a potential threat to the republican project.


Last update: 15 November 2017 (NG)


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