Society for the Anthropology of Religion
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
While there is abundant literature on the role of imams inside mosques in Europe, studies that focus on the role of mosque committee members are scarce. I will start from one of my key findings regarding mosques in Europe as a relational space of both change and resistance, that is: rather than experiencing a decline in religious authority as argued in the previous literature, mosques have become controlled by the legal-rational authority of the committee members who constantly emphasise the position of the imam as an employee. In this process of bureaucratisation, the role of experts as neoliberal “bearers” is crucial, but what if the bearer is a respected member of the congregation? In this paper, I will present the trajectory of Mourad, a young Tablighi voluntary member in a mosque located in the suburbs of Paris who became an expert in consulting, auditing and coaching the mosque committee members. For him, bureaucratisation of mosques does not only constitute the "coeur de métier" and therefore a possibility for professional self-affirmation and recognition, and a mechanism for social promotion, but also an act of ‘ibada (worship).