Mentorship

Current Research

The lives of American Muslim youth are complex and impacted by numerous intersecting factors, such as race/ethnicity, family, peers, school, community, and the socio-cultural environment they are living within. To design more effective programming, prevention, and  interventions efforts for American Muslim youth, it is important to understand their environment, the challenges and opportunities they encounter, and what factors influence their decisions. Greater knowledge about these factors can promote positive youth development and strengthen young people within their families, schools, and community contexts.


American Muslim Youth: Challenges, Research, and Opportunities

The Family and Youth Institute Researchers: Hanan Hashem, MA, Sadiq Patel, MSW, Mona Abo-Zena, PhD, Maha Ezzeddine, MA. 

youth-research-section3This project aims to survey current  research on American Muslim youth. This study identifies and highlights the unique intersection of numerous racial, cultural, and national identities, geographical contexts, and socio-economic contexts. Findings will be used to integrate research, offer recommendations for best practices to promote youth development across diverse settings:  family, school, and community.

  • Ahmed, S., Patel, S., Hashem, H. (2015). State of American Muslim Youth. Institute for Social Policy and Understanding and The Family & Youth Institute.
  • Ahmed, S. (2011). Adolescent and emerging adults. In S. Ahmed, & M. Amer (Eds.) Counseling Muslims: Handbook of Mental Health Issues and Interventions. New York, NY: Routledge.

American Muslim Youth Risk Behaviors

The Family and Youth Institute Researchers: Sameera Ahmed, PhD

youth-research-sectionThe prevalence of American Muslim college student’s substance use (alcohol, drugs, tobacco/hookah), pre-marital sex, and gambling are assessed through this research project. Risk factors as well as protective factors in young American Muslim’s environments are also explored, as well as implications for future research and intervention. Findings will be used to integrate research, offer recommendations for best practices to promote positive youth development and the development of preventative programming.

 

Collaborators in this area of study include Cynthia Arfken, PhD (Wayne State University), Wahiba Abu-Ras, PhD (Adelphi University).


Black Muslim Youth

The Family and Youth Institute Researchers: Sameera Ahmed, PhD, Mona Abo-Zena, PhD. black-youth

As members of both racially and religiously  stigmatized groups, Black Muslim youth must navigate daily through the intersection between their racial identity, religious values, and diverse contexts (cultural, religious, neighborhood, geography, etc.) How do these multiple identities impact the lives of young Black Muslims? What are the unique issues and experiences that must be acknowledged and addressed to promote the positive youth development of Black Muslim youth?

This project look at the varying factors contributing to Black Muslim youth development, explores issues of identity, relationships (family, peer, community), experiences of discrimination and institutionalized oppression, as well as historical trauma that continues to impact the psyche of young Black Muslim youth.  Recommendations for promoting culturally and religiously appropriate youth interventions will be provided.

Collaborators in this area of study include Farah Khan, MA (New York University), Cynthia Arfken, PhD (Wayne State University).


Convert Muslim Youth

The Family and Youth Institute Researchers: Sameera Ahmed, PhD, Hanan Hashem, MA, Saara Patel, MSW.

convert-research-pageAdolescence and emerging adulthood is a period often associated with exploration of one’s values and beliefs. As a result, an increasing number of young people report religious conversion. Little is known about young people who choose to convert to Islam, an increasingly stigmatized religion within the American socio-political context. What are the challenges experienced by young converts to Islam? How can families, friends, and communities better support their development as they integrate into families, religious communities, and social networks.  This study explores the experiences of young American Muslim converts and the factors resulting in conversion, changes in relationships (parents, friends, peers), as well as struggles with identity, race, and gender.

 This project aims to identify challenges, coping methods, and recommendations to better support young American Muslim converts.   


Immigrant Muslim Youth

The Family and Youth Institute Researchers: Mona Abo-Zena, PhD

immigrant“How are immigrant children like all other children, and how are they unique? What challenges as well as what opportunities do their circumstances present for their development? What characteristics are they likely to share because they have immigrant parents, and what characteristics are unique to specific groups of origin? How are children of first-generation immigrants different from those of second-generation immigrants? Transitions offers comprehensive coverage of the field’s best scholarship on the development of immigrant children, providing an overview of what the field needs to know—or at least systematically begin to ask—about the immigrant child and adolescent from a developmental perspective.”

Collaborators in this area of study include Carola Suárez-Orozco,  PhD (University of California – LA), Amy K. Marks, Phd (Suffolk University), Carolyn McNamara Barry, PhD (Loyola University).

  • Abo-Zena, M. M. & Barry, C. (2013).  Religion and immigrant-origin youth:  Both a resource and a challenge.  In A. Marks & M. M. Abo-Zena (Eds.). What we would have missed: Qualitative insights on the development of children in immigrant families.  Research in Human Development 10(4), 353-371.
  • Marks, A. & Abo-Zena, M. M. (Eds). (2013).  What we would have missed:  Qualitative insights on the development of children in immigrant families.  [Special Issue] Research in Human Development 10(4).

Identity Development of Muslim Youth

The Family and Youth Institute Researchers: Madiha Tahseen, PhD, Mona Abu-Zena, PhD, Sameera Ahmed, PhD. 

youth-research-section2As Muslim youth come of age in the American cultural context, they are caught up in the balance between their American, Muslim, and ethnic or racial identities. How do they navigate the intersections of all of their social identities, in a way that is beneficial for their overall well-being and development? Although current literature suggests that a bi-cultural profile is the healthiest for adolescents from diverse backgrounds, our understanding of how American Muslim youth specifically balance all of their social identities is limited. Secondly, it is important to also examine which type of identity profile is the healthiest for American Muslim youth, especially as they come of age in the current heated socio-political context.

Collaborators in this area of study include Charissa S.L. Cheah, PhD (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Carolyn McNamara Barry, PhD (Loyola University),  and Cynthia Arfken, PhD (Wayne State University).

  • Tahseen, M., & Cheah, C.S.L. (2016, March). Tridimensional identity among Muslim-American adolescents: Associations with family and psychological functioning. Paper symposium to be presented to the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Adolescence, Baltimore, MD.


Racial and Ethnic Discrimination – Issues of American Muslim Youth

The Family and Youth Institute Researchers: Sameera Ahmed, PhD, Sawssan Ahmed, PhD.

Processed with VSCO with a4 presetNegative experiences, such as discrimination, may impact the process of identity formation within emerging adults by pushing them towards/away from their cultural or religious group. High levels of perceived discrimination have been reported among Muslim youth and findings show that adolescents who report experiencing racism report more psychological difficulties. However adolescents who report that they use the cultural resources of ethnic identity, religious coping, and religious support report less psychological difficulties. These research studies explore the issues and protective factors of Muslim youth with regard to racism and discrimination.

Collaborators in this area of study include Cynthia Arfken, PhD (Wayne State University), Wahiba Abu-Ras, PhD (Adelphi University), Maryam Kia-Keating, PhD (University of California, Santa Barbara), Katherine H. Tsai, PhD (University of California, Los Angeles). 


 

List of Publications on Youth

Peer Reviewed Journals

Arfken, C., Abu-Ras, W., Ahmed, S. (2014). Pilot Study of Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking Among US Muslim College Students. Journal of Religion and Health, 53(4).

Ahmed, S., Abu-Ras, W., Arfken, C. (2014). Prevalence of risk behaviors among U.S. Muslim college students. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 8(1).

Arfken, C., Ahmed, S., Abu-Ras, W. (2013). Respondent-driven sampling of Muslim undergraduate U.S. college students and alcohol use: Pilot study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. 48, (6), 945-953.

Abu-Ras, W., Ahmed, S., Arfken, C. (2010). Alcohol use among U.S. Muslim college students: Risk and protective factors. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, 9(3), p. 206-220.

Ahmed, S. , Ezzeddine, M. (2009). Challenges and opportunities facing American Muslim youth. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 4(2), p. 159-174.

Ahmed, S. (2009). American Muslim youth: Religiosity and presence of character strengths. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 4 (2), p. 104-123.

Abo-Zena, M. M. & Barry, C. (2013).  Religion and immigrant-origin youth:  Both a resource and a challenge.  In A. Marks & M. M. Abo-Zena (Eds.). What we would have missed: Qualitative insights on the development of children in immigrant families.  Research in Human Development 10(4), 353-371.

Marks, A. & Abo-Zena, M. M. (Eds). (2013).  What we would have missed:  Qualitative insights on the development of children in immigrant families.  [Special Issue] Research in Human Development 10(4).

Book Chapters

Abo-Zena, M. M. and Ahmed, S. (2014). Religion, spirituality, and emerging adults: Processing meaning through culture, context, and social position. In McNamara-Barry, C. & Abo-Zena, M. M. (Eds.) Emerging Adults’ Religiousness and Spirituality, New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Walker, D., Ahmed, S., Milevsky, A., Quagliana, H. , Bagsara, A. (2012). Sacred Texts. In Walker, D. F., & Hathaway, W. L. (Eds.) Spiritually oriented interventions in child and adolescent psychotherapy, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Walker, D., Doverspike, W., Ahmed, S., Milevsky, A., Woolley, J. (2012). Prayers. In Walker, D. F., & Hathaway, W. L. (Eds.) Spiritually oriented interventions in child and adolescent psychotherapy, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Ahmed, S. (2011). Adolescent and emerging Adults. In S. Ahmed, & M. Amer (Eds.) Counseling Muslims: Handbook of Mental Health Issues and Interventions. New York, NY: Routledge.

Emerging adults’ religiousness and spirituality: Meaning-making in an age of transition, edited by Mona Abo-Zena and Carolyn McNamara Barry, PhD.

Transitions: The development of children immigrants, edited by Mona Abo-Zena, Carola Suárez-Orozco, and Amy K. Marks.

Reports

Ahmed, S., Patel, S., Hashem, H. (2015). State of American Muslim youth. Institute for Social Policy and Understanding and The Family & Youth Institute

Arfken, C.L., Ahmed, S., Abu-Ras, W. (2013). Under the influence: Alcohol use among college students.  Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.

Arfken, C.L. Abu-Ras, W., Ahmed, S. (2009). Alcohol use by Muslim college students: A review (Policy Brief #37). Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.

Selected Academic Presentations

Hashem, H., Ahmed, S., Patel, S., and Arfken, C. (2015). Young Muslim converts: Influence of race and gender on integration and connection. Presented at the 7th Annual Muslim Mental Health Conference, March 28, 2015, Dearborn, MI.

Tahseen, Madiha. (2015). Person-centered examination of collective identity among Muslim-American adolescents. Presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, March 20, 2015, Philadelphia, USA.

Ahmed, S., Abu-Ras, W., Arfken, C.L. (2013). Importance of ethnicity: Differences in reported discrimination towards Muslim students. Presented at the International Symposium for Arab Youth, May 29, 2013, Windsor, Canada.

Ahmed, S. (2013). Arab youth developmental pathways to identity: What do community agencies and providers want to know? Presented at the International Symposium for Arab Youth, May 30, 2013, Windsor, Canada.

Abu-Ras, W., Ahmed, S., Arfken, C.L. (2012). Hookah use among U.S. Muslim college students. Presented at 74th Annual Meeting -College on Problems of Drug Dependence, June 2012. (this link is broken)

Khan, F. & Ahmed, S. (2010). Peer relations and risky behavior of African American Muslim youth. Presented at the 118th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, August 14, 2010, San Diego, CA.

Ahmed, S. & Arfken, C. (2010). Intersection of ethnic identity, religiosity, and risky behaviors among second-generation African American Muslim youth. Presented at the 13th Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, March, 12, 2010, Philadelphia, PA.