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CONSTRUCTING ISLAMIC PARENTING IN THE WEST THROUGH SELF HELP LITERATURE DR. YOHAI HAKAK SCHOOL OF HEALTH SCIENCES AND SOCIAL WORK UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH.

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Presentation on theme: "CONSTRUCTING ISLAMIC PARENTING IN THE WEST THROUGH SELF HELP LITERATURE DR. YOHAI HAKAK SCHOOL OF HEALTH SCIENCES AND SOCIAL WORK UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH."— Presentation transcript:

1 CONSTRUCTING ISLAMIC PARENTING IN THE WEST THROUGH SELF HELP LITERATURE DR. YOHAI HAKAK SCHOOL OF HEALTH SCIENCES AND SOCIAL WORK UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH Beyond Belief: Religion and Belief in Professional Practice University Of Bradford, 8 August 2011

2 Constructing Islamic Parenting in the West through Self Help Literature  Introductory remarks: - What I offer is a sociological way of looking at the use of psychological discourse and self help literature - This is a new project that continues my previous research which focused on the Jewish Israeli Ultra Orthodox (Haredi) community

3 The Enclave Culture (Douglas, 1986, 1993)  A community that chooses to disengage from mainstream society  As a result: loses substantial access to the resources of the majority society  Incapable of employing government authority in order to enforce its rules on the enclave’s members  Incapable of competing with the rewards and resources of mainstream society  Main difficulty: constant threat that its members will defect to mainstream society

4 Preventing Defection: Equality in the Enclave  Stressing equality: "If individuals threaten to move out, they are warned that they will be oppressed by the outsider institutions. Inside, they are equal and free, so why should they want to move?", (Douglas, 1993: 54)  Stressing the inequalities outside

5 Inventing Ourselves  In liberal societies there is a need to control individuals in a way which does not contradict the values of freedom.  Psychological knowledge and tools provide diagnosis and intervention, based on a scientific ‘‘understanding of the human soul’’ grounded in ‘‘objective and unbiased knowledge.’’

6 Religion and self help  In religious communities the self is socially defined.  In Western societies, much under the influence of Western psychology, the self has a more individual nature. The self needs to be ‘discovered’ and ‘realised’.  ‘Normative psychology’ versus ‘descriptive psychology’. In the books I have read so far these two sides play together.

7 Methodology  Thematic analysis as well as discourse analysis: Thematic analysis will help understand the main issues; discourse analysis helps critically question the reasons for the discussions found in the guidebooks and the emerging practices and discourses.

8 VERY preliminary findings, thoughts and ideas  Vast majority of children from Muslim families in the UK as well as in many other Western countries are educated in public schools.  Religious leaders, in order to maintain religious identity, try to influence parents’ way of educating their children.  Youth is a specially sensitive period in which young people go through an accelerated process of establishing their identities; ‘moratorium’ and ability to experiment and explore. Therefore, young community members are more likely to defect.  Parenting self-help guidebooks largely focus on ‘keeping the flock in the fold’.

9  ‘To those who share our dream of one day seeing our babies stand strong against the wind of brainwashing greed and worldly evil by means of the goodness radiated by the light of Islam, this book is a map which includes every twist and turn on the road to the successful upbringing of children...’ (Beshir&Beshir, 1998: Xi)

10 Befriend your child  “By being approachable, parents are making sure they hear about all that their teen is exposed to and the feelings he is experiencing. They will know where his weaknesses are and be able to help him strengthen himself against them”, (Beshir & Beshir, 2001: 45).

11 Egalitarian approach  ‘When parents consult with their children, the children feel that they are part of what is going on. It is much more effective then just giving orders’, (Beshir&Beshir, 1998: 44)  ‘Young people, especially in the West, want to know the reason for any action. Too much control with only do’s and don’ts leads at best to docility and passivity and at worst rebellion. In order to be effective in discipline, parents must avoid head on confrontations with children’ (Abdul-Bari, 2002: 148).

12 Talking about emotions  ‘keeping an open channel of communication with your child when he/she is you, is a great investment for the teenage years... Children have to find a way to express their feelings to their parents, otherwise they will find others to talk to – teachers, councillors, friends, or their peers, who could mislead them’. (Beshir&Beshir, 1998: 40)  More and more ‘case studies’ and psychological terminology

13 Re-interpretation of religious sources  Interpretations which highlight sources that support more egalitarian relationships between parents and children, men and women

14 One dilemma, for example: 1. Should I indeed talk about Islamic parenting in THE WEST or should I limit myself to a more clearly defined national or ethnic context (the UK, the US; Muslims from Bangladesh, for example)?  The books themselves don’t address any such specific community, they talk to Muslim parents in Europe/US/the West  At least so far I have noticed very little differences between the American and the British books I’ve read.

15 Striking similarities:  Sharing what they dislike and reject: 1. Materialism and consumerism which includes according to these books also harsh ruthless competition 2. The focus on the body (body building, fashion, etc) and the materialistic and negligence of the spiritual 3. Individualism and the disintegration of the community and the family 4. Hedonism 5. The popular culture and the media (which promotes and spread these values)

16 Incorporating the psychological and democratic discourses

17 Bibliography:  Abdul-Bari, Muhammad (2002) The Greatest Gift: A Guide to Parenting from an Islamic Perspective.  Beshir, Ekram and Beshir, Mohamed, R. (1998) Parenting in the West: An Islamic Perspective, Maryland: Amanda Publications.  Beshir, Ekram and Beshir, Mohamed, R. (2001) Muslim Teens: Today’s Worry, Tomorrow’s Hope, Maryland: Amanda Publications.  Hakak, Y. (2011) Psychology and Democracy in the Name of the God? The Invocation of Modern and Secular Discourses on Parenting in the Service of Conservative Religious Aims, Mental Health, Culture and Religion, Vol 14(5):  Rose, N. (1996). Inventing our selves: Psychology, power and personhood. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press.  Douglas, M. (1993). In the wilderness: The doctrine of defilement in the book of numbers. Sheffield:


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