“Our Religion is on Us, Like How Our Parents Raised Us” : The Role of Islam and Spirituality in the Lives of Syrian Refugee Caregivers

This study addresses two distinct but interwoven questions on the link between spirituality and religion in the lives of Syrian Muslim refugee parents. (1) How do religious and spiritual convictions impact these refugees and their families? (2) How do these convictions shape Syrian Muslim refugee parents’ own positionality as caregivers and as individuals? We distinguish religious convictions as ones entrenched in the practice of organized religion (e.g., prayer and fasting), and spiritual convictions as ones associated with the frame of reference inspired by religion (e.g., embedded references to God and/or the Prophet Muhammad peace and blessing be upon him).


This paper is focused on qualitative findings from 16 Syrian refugee parents (15 mothers and 1 father) and their individual families. While the study began as a pilot for an intervention program focused on early childhood education among refugee children in Jordan, it became overwhelmingly clear that the refugee parents’ individual senses of parenthood, responsibility, and aspiration for their children’s futures are inextricably linked to their spiritual and religious convictions.



  • Explores the importance of faith and spirituality in the context of refugee parenting and early childhood development.
  • Provides insight into how refugee parents speak about their faith and spirituality in the context of their migration experiences, aspirations for their children, and as an extension of their own development.
  • Based on a qualitative study with 16 Syrian caregivers in Jordan.
  • Argues for the need to include awareness of and sensitivity to Islamic religious and spiritual practices in the design of interventions and programs concerning Muslim refugee children.
Ifrah Mahamud Magan & Salma Elkhaoudi | 2023
In: Journal of Child and Family Studies ; ISSN: 1062-1024
Online ahead of print DOI: 10.1007/s10826-022-02487-8
Caregivers, Children, Education, Family Members, Interventions, Muslims, Parents, Refugees, Religion, Research, Spirituality, Syrians