Islamic Terror: Conscious and Unconscious Motives

By Avner Falk | Go to book overview

The Muslim Child’s Ambivalence
Toward Its Parents

Traditional Muslim religious faith idealizes the family. The structure of the Muslim family is considered to rest on four “pillars” or “values” that are much better than “Western” family practices. They are based on Qur’anic regulations and the traditions or hadith from the life of the Prophet Muhammad, handed down from generation to generation. Those four “pillars” are: (1) Family life as a cradle of human society providing a secure, healthy, and encouraging home for parents and the growing children. (2) Family life as guardian of the natural erotic desires of men and women, leading this powerful urge into wholesome channels. (3) Family life as the very breeding place for human virtues like love, kindness, and mercy. (4) Family life as the most secure refuge against inward and outward troubles. The strength of these four pillars is made up by the Muslim social system, and the benefits of family life are extended not only to blood relations but encompass also the worldwide “family” of Muslims, the Islamic brotherhood, or the ummah (the nation of Islam), a word derived from umm (mother). So much for the idealized view of the Muslim family (Martin 2004).

During the 1970s and 1980s, the American anthropologist Andrea Rugh lived in an Egyptian Arab village and later in a Syrian Arab village to write a book on Egyptian Arab village life (Rugh 1984). She was struck by the village life and culture, and later published her observations on some of the differences between Muslim Arab and “Western” society (Rugh 1997). During her eight months there, she became involved in the domestic life of her landlord’s family. Rugh reported on the personalities and activities she encountered and analyzed them.

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