Islam, Gender and Migrant Integration: The Case of Somali Immigrant Families

Islam, Gender and Migrant Integration: The Case of Somali Immigrant Families

Islam, Gender and Migrant Integration: The Case of Somali Immigrant Families

Islam, Gender and Migrant Integration: The Case of Somali Immigrant Families

Synopsis

Al Huraibi addresses three questions: how do Somali immigrants negotiate gender notions and practices between those maintained in Somali culture and those adopted from mainstream American culture; how immigrants' understandings of Islamic writings on gender shape the negotiation process and how the integration process shapes their understanding of Islamic gender discourse; and to what extent resultant gender perceptions and practices reflect the transnational integration and cultural hybridism of two or more cultures. Al Huraibi concludes that respondents' cross-cultural selection of aspects from both cultures indicates a transnational pattern of integration in a globalized world. She argues, contrary to common perceptions, that Islam enables Muslim immigrants to distance themselves from certain aspects of the culture left behind and to embrace aspects from the host culture. All in order to be better Muslims.

Excerpt

Immigrant groups to the United States struggle to be accepted as part of the new society. At the same time, they strive to preserve certain aspects of their identities and cultures which they hold dear.1 The Euro-American population is the “core” group in American society (Barkan 2005), and the farther an immigrant group is racially, culturally and religiously from the characteristics of the dominant group, the more problematic it is for it to maintain the basic cultural and religious features of its identity while achieving integration into the majority society (Samatar 2004).

John Esposito (2004) has found that maintaining faith while functioning within and accepting the secular, pluralistic Western society is a challenge particularly difficult for Muslim immigrants. Like immigrant communities before them, Muslims have to meet the challenge of defining their identities and positions in a Western society “that is both secular and whose majority has Judeo-Christian roots” (Esposito 2004: Foreword). For Muslim immigrants in particular, however, the dilemma of integrating into the predominantly nonMuslim culture while maintaining their faith and identities is exacerbated because of thd in Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus, Andalusia (Spain) and other Islamic cities at the time of widespread Islamic civilization. Ethnic and religious minorities, including Christians and Jews, lived side by side with the dominant Muslim majority (See al Faruqi and al Faruqi 1986).

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