Despite emphasising the importance and connection of Muslim identity and personhood to embodied rituals and practices, some participants drew attention to contested dimensions of faith-based rituals and spirituality. Many young female participants expressed their fatigue with religious leaders who placed too much focus on ritualistic practices of the faith, closing space for spiritual reflection. One finding that emerged from the interview and the focus group discussions was that spiritual reflection is a truer and more inclusive expression of Islam than ritualistic practices. For women, the hijab and the perceived social pressures around wearing the hijab or dressing modestly provides an insight into this tension. Despite this, participants who chose to wear the hijab also expressed the connection between discipline and piety. Across all research sites, participants identified the practice of covering as being more than symbolic. Most participants who discussed the practice of covering regarded it as a disciplinary practice orienting the wearer against vanity and excess, and instead towards moderation and humility in all forms of expression:

We try not to engage in materialism and … getting blinded by society, all the glam and glitz and all the things that you can buy […] you want to be like your friends and have expensive things and nice things but we always try to moderate that.
— Alhena, 18–24, Arab Sunni, Detroit
It’s covering, modesty. With this I find respect. With this I find that I can do a lot more things that I won’t be able to do if I didn’t have this on. And that’s because I care for myself and I know who I am and I know where I’m going.
— Zaynab, 50–60, Bengali speaking, Detroit