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Cardiff University research explores religious teaching within Muslim families

11 July 2008

The ways in which children learn about Islam from their family is the focal point of a new research project by Cardiff University.

Mrs Asma Khan and Mr Sameh Otri of the School of Social Science are the researchers on the project ‘Religious Nurture in Muslim Families’, which will explore the process by which parents and other family members attempt to teach religious beliefs and practices to children.

The research team is led by Dr Jonathan Scourfield, of the School of Social Science, and Dr Sophie Gilliat-Ray of the University’s Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK. The team aims to answer a number of questions, including the practicalities of bringing children up amongst a non-Muslim society, children’s own understanding of their religion, and differences between families by religious tradition, ethnic background and social class.

Mrs Khan said: "There is little or no sociological research which focuses on Muslim children in early and middle childhood. Previous research has shown that Muslims are more successful than other religious groups at passing on their religion to their children and we would like to find out why this is."

The team is currently recruiting Muslim families from Cardiff to take part in the project. The research will take the form of interviews with parents, children and other family members, and children will be asked, with their parents’ permission, to keep diaries and take photographs of important events and places for learning Islam.

Participants will not be identified in any way during the research, and throughout the project, the team will be supported by an advisory group, which includes senior members of Islamic community groups, educational institutions and mosques.

Families interested in taking part in the research should contact the project office on: 02929 875 069 or visit the project Website:

Religious Nurture in Muslim Families is funded by the AHRC and ESRC under their ‘Religion and Society’ programme.


Notes to Editors:

1. Cardiff School of Social Sciences

The School of Social Sciences encompasses teaching and research in social studies and education. Within social studies, the School has research interests in five main areas: criminology and criminal justice; health and medicine, knowledge and social change; modernity (time, risk, environment); and social welfare systems. Recent research includes investigation of drug use, white collar fraud, child welfare, domestic violence and European environmental policies. Many of the staff are international experts in their fields.

The School’s education programmes are aimed at students who are interested in the psychological, social and political dimensions of education, as well as those who are vocationally-orientated. Education-related degrees are recognised by the British Psychological Society for the Graduate Basis for Registration, which provides the basis for future training in psychology-related professions. At a postgraduate level, it offers a range of research and taught Masters schemes in education, in addition to the PGCE for teaching in Further Education.

The School’s research contributions in education management and policy; psychology of education and special educational needs; and post-compulsory education and training are internationally-recognised and are the foundation of its teaching programmes. In the independent government assessment of teaching quality, the School was awarded the highest, "Excellent" rating.

In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, the School was awarded a Grade 5 Star rating for Education and a Grade 5 for Sociology, indicating research of international excellence.

2. Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. It is also ranked as one of the world’s top 100 universities by the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES).

2008 marks the 125th anniversary of Cardiff University having been founded by Royal Charter in 1883. Today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s leading research universities.

Visit the University website at:

Further Information:

Victoria Dando

Public Relations Office

Tel: 02920 879074