Religious nurture in Muslim families
(AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society programme)
The School of Social Sciences and the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK conducted a joint research project between 2008 and 2010 to investigate how children of primary school age and below are brought up to be Muslims.
The research aimed to describe and explain how children of primary school age and under are brought up to be Muslims. The topic of religious nurture is of interest in relation to all faiths, but given the diversity of schools of thought and ethnic groups amongst British Muslims, there was a strong argument for a detailed study of Islam in particular. Since there has already been attention paid by researchers to Muslim adolescents and 'young people' in recent years, the intention for this project was to focus on families with children of primary school age and younger.
The research was funded by the Religion and Society Programme (Large Grant Scheme), run by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.
The research team conducted interviews, asked children to keep audio and photo diaries and also observed supplementary classes.
For more information about the project, e-mail Prof Jonathan Scourfield, from the School of Social Sciences (Scourfield@cardiff.ac.uk) or the Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK, Dr Sophie Gilliat-Ray (Gilliat-RayS@cardiff.ac.uk).
Aims of Project
The researchers aimed 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. They also looked at whether there is evidence of increasing secular influences on beliefs and practices in Muslim families.
The research questions were as follows:
- How do different family members negotiate religious nurture in the context of a non-Muslim society?
- How do children understand their religion?
- How does religious nurture differ according to children's age, perceived stage and gender?
- How does religious nurture differ between families according to religious traditions, ethnic backgrounds and social class?
- How does religious nurture fit with parents' attempts to transmit ethnic and national identities to children?
- How important is ritual to religious nurture? Are there particular places that have religious significance?
- Is there evidence of increasing secular influences on Islamic beliefs and practices in Muslim families?
- Is there evidence that ideas of spirituality and personal well-being are meaningful to Muslim families?
- A number of videos have been created in relation to the project. To view them please visit the videos page by clicking here.
- Publications and presentations are also available, including a podcast of Professor Scourfield presenting the research at the Sacred Practices in Everyday Life conference, organised by Religion and Society. Listen to the podcast here.