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Islam, love and marriage

18 March 2011

Islam, love and marriage

New forms of Islamic practice are helping young Muslim men and women in the UK and in Bangladesh balance their traditional values with Western influences when it comes to marriage, love and family.

Young people born into traditional Muslim backgrounds, whether in the West or in Asian Muslim societies such as Bangladesh, often find it difficult to navigate their way between traditional Asian forms of Islamic culture and the liberal and secular influences of the West.

New research led by Dr Santi Rozario and Professor Geoffrey Samuel of the School of History, Archaeology and Religion has found that new interpretations of Islam and new forms of Islamic practice are offering solutions to the problems faced by Muslim families in today’s rapidly changing world.

"We have been studying how marriage and the family are changing among young Bangladeshi women and men, in Britain and in Bangladesh itself," said Dr Santi Rozario.

"In the UK, many of the difficulties between the two cultures emerge through conflicts and tensions with the parental generation about marriage, obligations to the family, and appropriate behaviour. The new forms of Islamic practice and interpretations of Islam we encountered and studied vary in detail, but all in one way or another address the needs of people living in contemporary Western society. They offer young people structure and security in relation to their lives, along with a new vision of love, marriage and the family."

The research took place over a three year period and was funded by the Economic and Social Research council (ESRC).

Dr Rozario added: "Findings from this research will help local communities to reflect on and understand more about crucial aspects of marriage and family for young Muslims. These include, for example, arranged marriages, intergenerational tensions and conflicts, and the clashes between different sets of values: traditional Bangladeshi cultural values, western secular values and the new Islamic values to which many of the young people are increasingly attracted. A better understanding of these issues will help the community to develop ways to support these young people as they struggle to find their way to build a successful marriage and raise a family of their own."

A free workshop on 23 March at the Birt Acres lecture theatre, Bute Building will give an insight into the findings. The event will be chaired by Saleem Kidwai, Muslim Council of Wales and starts at 5.00pm. Places can be reserved by emailing RozarioS@cardiff.ac.uk.

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