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How do we learn to be religious?

7 November 2013

muslim childhood

Muslims in the UK more effectively pass on their faith to the next generation than other religious groups, according to a new book by Cardiff researchers.

Muslim Childhood is the first study of religious nurture in Muslim children at primary school age.

Previous research exists on Muslim youth, but none on this age group (12 and under) which has specifically focused on learning religion.

The book draws on a study of 60 Muslim families in one British city and the lives of Muslim children in those families, from the family home to mosques and other religious organisations, school and wider social networks.

Lead author Professor Jonathan Scourfield, from the School of Social Sciences, said: "This book is about ordinary British Muslims' everyday religious socialisation of children in early and middle childhood. What surprised me most from our research was that although the British Muslim population is diverse, in terms of ethnic background, social class and school of thought, there are some important traditions of teaching children about Islam which different groups have in common. Arguably there is more that unites different groups of Muslims than separates them, when it comes to bringing up children as Muslims."

Muslim Childhood is published by Oxford University Press. It was co-authored by Professor Sophie Gilliat-Ray and Asma Khan of the University's School of History, Archaeology and Religion and Sameh Otri, Muslim Chaplain at Cardiff. The research was jointly funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Economic and Social Research Council as part of the 'Religion and Society' programme.