Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

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The Mosque and Social Networks: The Case of Muslim Youth in Brisbane

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Abstract:  Much of the existing public discourse surrounding Muslim youth in Western societies is framed through a simplistic and static understanding of the role of the Mosque in their everyday life. Mosques are often seen as places for the development of Muslim conservatism where membership is gender and ethno-specific and activities are socially restrictive (Spalek & Imtoual, 2007, p. 195; Spalek & Lambert, 2008; Poynting & Mason, 2008, p. 237). This contributes to an ongoing public preoccupation with the idea that it is necessary to integrate Muslim youth into “mainstream society” as a counter measure to anti-social behaviour and attributed outcomes (i.e. terrorism). This paper, building on the work of Dialmy (2007, p. 70) and Jamal (2005, p. 523), offers an account of how young Muslims network and socialise around the Mosque in Brisbane, Australia. We show that contrary to popular public conception, the role of the Mosque in the lives of Muslim youth is multifaceted and serves as the centrepiece from which the majority of socialisation, across variety formal and informal networks, occurs. This paper also explores the reasons underpinning Muslim youth’s social participation, emphasizing the socio-cultural factors (both within and beyond the place of worship) that facilitate and hinder participation across a range of social settings. We argue that discussions on Muslim youth and social engagement must be positioned within an informed understanding of the nuanced role of the Mosque in the generation of social networks within Western contexts.

Keywords:  belonging; homophily; mosque; Muslim; social networks; youth



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