The notion of family is one that is important cross-culturally. It fosters a sense of responsibility among its members, and structure that forms the basis of the patriarchal society. Throughout time, and across different cultures, the conception of family has, and is varied, but the essence is universal. Traditional Islam is a religion that has a rigid interpretation of how the family should be composed, as it is one that abides by the strict principles of Allah, and does not allow for modern interpretations. Within the traditional Islamic family, every member has a specific role and each is a product of one-another (their role depends on the presence of the other). The father is the bread-winner, the mother stays at home and remains devoted and submissive, and the children are deferential. (Afzal-Khan, 2005). However, in our contemporary society, and especially in Canada, the principles of traditional Islam are potentially out of touch with many Muslim people, especially women.
[...] To be unmarried with a child is to be separated from the Muslim way of life, and for these women in the West, it leaves them caught between two cultures and in a position where getting by can be tough. (Afzal-Khan, 2005). Being a part of a nuclear Muslim family also makes it much easier for the woman to seek work out of the home, since the other people can assist in caring for children. Islamic women with careers often experience lower levels of physical and emotional stress for this reason. [...]
[...] However, if we look at how this vulnerable social group has adapted, there are lessons to be learned from how these women have responded to their unique position, stuck in between two cultures. Despite the challenges that single Muslim mothers face, some are eager to challenge way that the Quran is interpreted in hopes that they can be a force for change in the Muslim world. In, the debate on the place of women in Islam is one of the best examples of how culture affects interpretation. [...]
[...] The new Muslim woman is begging to find a way of getting past their cultural void in which they find themselves caught between two cultures. They are making personal choices about how to embrace both cultures, from wearing a hijab at work, or by accepting that an arranged marriage is not the only option, but one worth considering. The new Muslim woman is beginning to figure out how to balance the old world of traditions which has followed them from their homeland and been strengthened by their parents and grandparents, but they are also learning how to incorporate ideals of female liberation into their faith. [...]
[...] Because single Muslim women in North America find themselves caught in between two cultures, such that they have trouble identifying with the Muslim community and the community in which they live, these women often suffer from loneliness. This is especially relevant in urban centres where single Muslim women are plentiful, but plagued by having nobody to relate to. The problems that face single Muslim mothers, most of whom are divorced are not those suffered by married women who live in the support system of the extended family. [...]
[...] The challenge for these women to escape from their position trapped between two cultures, and uses their empowerment to find a place simultaneously in both. (Hasan, 2004). Muslim women in North American society ought not be concerned with the Islam of the previous generations. It is clear how Islam has been interpreted in the past, and this will not change. These women must place their focus on the new generation of Islam, and how it can be used in a way that is inclusive of all people, and that recognizes the realities of life in North American culture. [...]
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