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Religious nurture in Muslim families

We conducted a joint research project with the School of Social Sciences to investigate how children of primary school age and below 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 is a strong argument for a detailed study of Islam in particular.


The research sought to investigate:

  • 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?

The project team


A number of videos have been produced relating to the project. You can view them on the project's Vimeo channel.


Jonathan Scourfield, Sophie Gilliat-Ray, Asma Khan, and Sameh Otri, (2013). Muslim Childhood. Oxford, Oxford University Press. Jonathan Scourfield, Chris Taylor, Graham Moore, and Sophie Gilliat-Ray. (2012). “The Intergenerational Transmission of Islam in England and Wales: Evidence from the Citizenship Survey.” Sociology 46(1): 91-108.

Jonathan Scourfield, J., Roz Warden, Sophie Gilliat-Ray, Asma Khan, Sameh Otri. (2013). “Religious nurture in British Muslim families: Implications for social work.” International Social Work 56(3) 326–342

Asma Khan, Jonathan Scourfield, Sophie Gilliat-Ray, and Sameh Otri (2013). “Reflections on qualitative research with Muslim families.” Fieldwork in Religion 7(1): 48-69.