Islam is a major world religion and the Muslim population is one of the fastest growing religious populations in theWestern world, including in the United States. However, few research studies have examined the lived religious experience of U.S. Muslim families. Much of the attention on Islam among researchers and the media tends to be on controversial aspects of the religion. The purpose of this paper is to examine the unique religious practice of the month-long fast of Ramadan, especially its perceived role on marital and familial relationships from an insider’s perspective. Content analysis of in-depth, qualitative interviews of twenty diverse Shia and Sunni Muslim families living in the United States (N = 47 individuals) yielded several emergent themes. This study presents and explores data on the focal theme: “fasting brings us closer together.” These data suggest that Ramadan serves a sacred, unifying, and integrating purpose for many of the 47 practicing Muslim mothers, fathers, and youth in this study. Meanings and processes involved in Ramadan and family relationships are explored and explained. Implications and applications of the research findings are discussed and some potential directions for future research are outlined.
- Muslim families