Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Wolfgang Lehmann


Toward an Inclusive Islamic Identity? A Study of First- and Second-Generation Muslims in Canada examines the intergenerational differences between first- and second-generation Muslims living in Canada, and the way in which they define their personal identities as both Muslim and Canadian. It aims to investigate the integration experiences of Muslims in Canada in order to understand how closely they derive a sense of belonging from Islam and/or their religious communities, and how their identification with Islam limits or stimulates their sense of belonging in Canada. The main research question I pose, therefore, is: how does being Muslim affect the likelihood that Muslim immigrants and their children feel at home in Canada? Utilising 50 in-depth interviews with Canadian Muslim men and women from various national and ethnic backgrounds, I arrive at several important findings. First, the data presented in this study illustrate that the religious expression and involvement of Muslims living in Canada is diverse, and that Muslims construct their personal and Islamic identities as Canadians in unique and alternative ways. Secondly, against the widespread and monolithic depiction of Muslims, and particularly young Muslims, as “extremist” and “radical”, this study illustrates that first- and second-generation Muslims living in Canada identify as both Muslim and as Canadian. Importantly, respondents reveal that Islam and Canadian principles of democracy and liberalism, despite claims of their incompatibility, are in fact non-tenuous. For example, interview data revealed that for immigrant Muslims, adherence to their religious faith and the democratic and liberal principles heralded in Canada were complimentary. Thus, for them being a good Muslim was equated with being a good Canadian as well. Contrastingly, while abandoning the traditions and culture of their immigrant parents, the second-generation Muslims in this study established a hybrid identity that merged the teachings and principles of Islam with broader Canadian values. Interviews also revealed that identity negotiation for first- and second-generation Muslims living in Canada is coloured by gender insofar as the female interviewees describe the added pressure of protecting their family’s honour and integrity.