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On the (In)compatibility of Islamic Religiosity and Citizenship in Western Democracies: The Role of Religion for Muslims’ Civic and Political Engagement

  • Mario Peucker (a1)


Questioning the compatibility of Islam with liberal democratic principles has become a common argument in the public rhetoric across the socio-political spectrum. This article examines this claimed irreconcilability through the prism of a constitutive dimension of healthy democracies: active citizenship. Drawing on a systematic synthesis of recent studies, the article argues that, while it is impossible to ultimately decide whether Islam as a faith is compatible with liberal democratic norms, the lived religiosity of most Muslims is generally not an obstacle to civic engagement in non-Muslim majority countries; active involvement in mosques rather tends to enhance their active citizenship. Data from an explorative study on Muslims’ engagement in Australia and Germany allow new insights into the different ways civically active Muslims refer to their faith as a driver for their citizenship. Some describe it as a religious duty, while for others ‘serving humanity’ constitutes a fundamental aspect of lived religiosity.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Mario Peucker, Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia. E-mail:


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