Arab Muslim Identity Transmission: Parents and Youth
Arab Studies Quarterly, pp. 65-82, Spring/Summer 1989
ARAB AMERICANS: CONTINUITY AND CHANGE, Baha Abu-Laban & Michael W. Suleiman, eds. 1989
19 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2011
Date Written: 1989
Effective Islamic identity transmission requires determination of the nature and extensiveness of the different interpretations held by parents and their children and the ways these interpretations are reflected in their practice of Islam and association with Arabic heritage. Fifteen Arab Muslim families of varied nationalities were interviewed as part of a larger study on Muslims in North America. The findings indicate that parents and youth have significantly different perceptions. Parents have higher levels of perception for the central concept of Islam, i.e., Tawhid (Oneness of God), but only in abstract form, whereas youth tend to emphasize some of the auxiliary concepts of Islam, i.e., human-interrelation behavior, but in the context of Western values. This may explain (1) difficulties parents encounter in effectively transmitting the Islamic belief system and/or the Arabic heritage to their children, (2) the youths' inability to distinguish between the Islamic/Arabic and the Western systems on the ideological level, and (3) the youths' confusion concerning their roots and history.
Keywords: Arab Muslim Identity, Identity Transmission in the West, Arab Muslim Parents, Arab Muslim Youth
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