The construction of national and religious identities amongst Australian Isma’ili Muslims

Karim Mitha, Shelina Adatia, Rusi Jaspal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Australian civic society has become increasingly multicultural and diverse. Nevertheless, in the current political climate, Australian Muslims may feel as though they live under a microscope of scrutiny with their sense of affiliation and allegiance questioned. The narrative regarding Muslims in Australia has largely focused on Sunnis and ethnic Arabs. This qualitative study examines the Australian Shi’a Isma’ili Muslim community – a minority within a minority – and how attachment to supraordinate identity markers of ‘Muslim’ and ‘Australian’ influence their identity construction. It utilised semi-structured interviews with 16 first- and second-generation Isma’ili Muslims to examine the intersection of national, religious, and cultural identities via the lens of Identity Process Theory (IPT). Religious identity was important to respondents, who spoke of how their ‘double minority’ status distinguished them vis-à-vis the broader Muslim community in Australia and Australian society overall. Nevertheless, respondents noted a strong sense of instrumental attachment to Australia which enabled them to develop a distinct niche of Isma’ili Muslim identity unique to the Australian landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)791-810
JournalSocial Identities
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2020


  • Australian Muslims
  • Identity Process Theory
  • ethnicity
  • social psychology
  • religion


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