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Acculturation experience of Muslims in the West: An imaginal approach

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
This dissertation addresses the imperative task of understanding and facilitating the acculturation of nearly 30 million Muslims in the West. It explores acculturation challenges by examining the role of theistic beliefs as a pivotal yet understudied factor. Critically engaging with the existing research gap, the study argues that secular models inadequately capture the distinctive acculturation experiences of Muslims. Consequently, the primary objective is to investigate Muslim acculturation through a theistic lens. To achieve this, the study synthesizes insights from Islamic sources, particularly drawing upon the great Islamic scholars Ibn Arabi and Rumi, and integrates their insights with Western psychological perspectives, emphasizing integrative and interpretive models of acculturation. The central argument centers on the need to balance unity and diversity for a holistic understanding of Muslim acculturation. The study critiques the skewed emphasis on unity among Muslims, contrasting it with the extreme emphasis on diversity in the Western context and exploring its implications in theistic, psychological, and educational domains. Given the dominance of empirical studies in existing research, this dissertation adopts a theoretical/analytical approach. Such a shift is necessary to prepare the grounds for an acculturation model that takes theism into account, which is a central aspect of Muslim life. Further exploration includes a comparative analysis of the Islamic conception of the human self and Western psychological theories of selfhood. The goal is to bridge the gap between these perspectives, offering a comprehensive framework for understanding Muslim acculturative identities. In essence, the study contributes to the psychology of acculturation by incorporating theistic beliefs into psychological discourses as a sociocultural factor, introducing an imaginal approach supplementing the mainstream rational one. The study concludes by unravelling the practical dimensions of the presented acculturation account, providing actionable steps for individuals navigating this journey. It explores educational implications, emphasizing the need for an inclusive and holistic approach aligned with both Islamic and Western educational objectives. Serving as a guide for policymakers, acculturation theorists, educators, and community leaders, this dissertation encourages a balanced approach between unity and diversity in political, theoretical, educational, and communal contexts, hoping to facilitate the acculturation of Muslim immigrants in Western societies.
120 pages.
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Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
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Thesis advisor: LeMare, Lucy
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