Accepted paper:

Diaspora as home: the global community of Ahmadi Muslims


Marzia Balzani (New York University, Abu Dhabi)

Paper short abstract:

The Ahmadi Muslim’s have converted the exilic fracturing of home into a resilient transformation of diaspora into home, a transformation that is remarkably responsive, both ideationally and practically, to the political, economic and cultural realities of globalization.

Paper long abstract:

In under one century the spiritual home of the Ahmadiyya Muslims and physical home of their leader, the Khalifa, has moved from India to Pakistan to London. The Khalifa's move was not solely a communal dislocation but part of a diasporic spread of Ahmadis. Originally of South Asian heritage, the transnational proselytizing Ahmadis have made London their home and are now British citizens, often twice migrants from East Africa or Europe and converts from diverse ethnic backgrounds and cultures. Persecution in Pakistan has resulted in exile and refugee status for many Ahmadis and in the necessity to make a home in a new land, including active mosque building to transform London into a recognizable Muslim space. The construction of collective memory and tradition has been central to Ahmadiyyat. While some collective experiences of migration encompassing memories and myths of the original homeland and beliefs that they are not fully accepted by their host country apply, others such as the idea that the ancestral homeland is a place of eventual return require a more complicated historical explication. For, in the Ahmadi eschatological vision, the eventual conversion of the planet to Ahmadi Islam is the future, and therefore no single place can constitute a homeland site for return when the whole globe is to become theirs in the fullness of time. Of course, should such a time come to pass it will, by definition, constitute the very negation of diaspora as the whole world will be 'home'.

panel P10
Imaginaries of home