Interfaith Families through Conversion to Islam


This study explored family responses to a relatives’ conversion to Islam in a country where Muslims are a minority. Fifteen Akans who embraced Islam in Ghana were interviewed. Target families were primarily Christian or followers of the customary Akan religion. My interviewees lived in the majority-Fante area on Ghana’s coastal south. Family background questions focused on ethnicity, religious composition, and affluence. Questions about family response focused on rituals like naming ceremonies, weddings, and funerals, but also on expressive and instrumental support. Instant adaptation, ongoing disruption, and sometimes a transition from disruption to adaptation emerged as familial patterns of response to Muslim conversion. Findings are contextualized in the far-reaching religious transformation of Africa over the past century; the increasing fragmentation of families where state-funded safety-nets are disappearing or nonexistent; and the need for more study of Muslim-minorities who primarily live outside of Southwest Asia and North Africa.

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