Page last updated at 11:41 GMT, Saturday, 10 April 2010 12:41 UK

Muslim children help faith study

Father and young sons at a mosque (generic)
The religious practices of some families have been observed

Muslim families in Cardiff are helping researchers investigate how young children are brought up within their faith in a non-Muslim society.

Cardiff University's social sciences school and its Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK are behind the project.

It studies the ways faith is instilled, what the children understand about religion, and different traditions, ethnic backgrounds and social class.

A lecture on the topic is taking place in Cardiff on Saturday evening.

The children in the three-year study are all primary age or under, and as part of the process they were asked to keep audio diaries.

Researchers also interviewed the families and observed the religious practices of some of the participants.

They set out to answer a number of questions, including how different family members negotiate religious nurture in a non-Muslim society, how this differs according to the child's age and gender, and what differences there are between families from varying strands of Islam, social class and ethnic backgrounds.

There is a need for provision for [Muslim] children in mainstream schools, with after-school clubs, for example
Sameh Otri, Cardiff University

They were also looking to see whether there is any evidence of increasing secular influence on Islamic beliefs and practices in Muslim families.

Sameh Otri from Cardiff University's School of Social Science is one of the researchers working on the project, which is due to end in October.

He said one of the themes which was emerging from the research was the necessity of working with mainstream schools to bring their attention to the needs of Muslim children.

At present, some children have to go off-site to practice religious observance or learn Arabic.

"There is a need for provision for children in mainstream schools, with after-school clubs, for example," Mr Otri said.

He added first-generation Muslims often had no extended families to call on for help with children, and needed extra support from official agencies such as social services.

A talk on the study so far is taking place at the Wallace Theatre in Cardiff University's main building on Saturday evening at 1900 BST.

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