Abstract

Previous research has shown how religious observances produce religious selves with religious dispositions. Still, more could be done to empirically compare how religious observances encourage men and women to develop distinctively gendered dispositions. Using ethnographic fieldwork at an American mosque and in-depth interviews with American converts to Islam, this paper focuses on how converts contend with accepting religious injunctions around clothing choices and polygyny. This paper demonstrates how the normalization of particular religious observances within specific contexts makes different demands on men and women and in so doing produces gendered religious subjects. Men at my field-site strive to develop a disposition of responsibility that is positioned in opposition to secular masculinity and claimed as being better for women. Women here develop a sacrificial disposition, positioned primarily against Muslim men, and to a lesser extent against non-Muslim women, where they frame their individual sacrifices as necessary for the maintenance of a morally distinct religious order. Individuals thus seek to become religious subjects against the image of non-Muslim Others as well as religious counterparts of the opposite sex.

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