An International Conference, Finding Muslim Partners, Building Islamic Lives: Young South Asian Muslims At Home and in the Diaspora, took place from Fri 5th to Sun 7th November 2010 as part of BAHAR’s ESRC project on Islam and Young Bangladeshis. It was held at St Michael’s College, Llandaff, Cardiff.
For young South Asian Muslims, both in South Asia and the diaspora, finding a suitable partner and plotting the course of a future life together can be a challenge. ‘Traditional’ patterns of arranged marriage are threatened by generational change and Western influences, but obstacles remain in the way of young men and women who might want to socialize freely. The move towards a nuclear family as an economically independent unit threatens older structures of family authority. At the same time, Western values may be perceived as immoral, decadent and inadequate. New Islamic movements may provide meaning and direction for life as well as a context in which marriages can be arranged with people of like values, and Sufi shaykhs or Salafi imams may provide the moral authority to reject the questionably Islamic culture of the parental generation, but the ability of these new structures and pathways to stand up in the rapidly changing worlds of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, or among the diasporic communities in the UK or USA, is open to question. This conference looked in a comparative frame at how young S Asian Muslims are solving – or failing to solve – these vital contemporary dilemmas.