Modelling exile

Syrian women gather to discuss prophetic examples in Jordan

Authored by: Sarah A. Tobin

The Routledge Handbook of Islam and Gender

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9780815367772
eBook ISBN: 9781351256568
Adobe ISBN:


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While much research has emerged on Syrian refugees in recent years, and much has been written about religion and migration, little work examines the role of religion for refugees in Muslim-majority host countries. Jordan has taken in around 1 million Syrian refugees since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, and still little is known about the ways that Islam has been understood and practiced by these refugees in conditions of exile in Jordan. This chapter traces the changes to their practices of Islam that Syrian women reported, from pre-war Syria and to exile in Jordan. While piety in pre-war Syria can be characterized as highly individualized and rooted in mosque visitation, in what I call ‘architectural piety’, piety in Jordan has taken on a much stronger community and social element, particularly through open participation in religion classes and in the recounting of Prophetic examples that provide socio-cultural comfort in exile. Through three focus group discussions with Syrians in urban areas of northern Jordan and in two religion classes in a Syrian refugee camp, this chapter demonstrates that the Prophetic examples and narratives employed by the Syrian women in Jordan represent a meaningful and gendered way to engage in new forms of sociality and community in exile.

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