The Ties That Bind: How Family Customs Continue to Shape the Muslim Community

Family is the foundation of life in the Muslim community, and this core tenet informs much of the culture of this religion, from the way that a partner is selected to how children are raised and senior members of the clan are cared for. Preserving family customs through parents passing on traditions to their own children is an important part of Muslim family life.

Affection, mutual respect, and communication are the driving force behind many familial customs, with an emphasis on making and maintaining connections across the generation divide. Here, we look at some of these traditions and how they continue to be expressed by the new generation of Muslim families today – and what other communities could learn from them.


While, in the West, it’s now pretty normal for Muslims to date, this may still look a little different from how their non-Muslim counterparts practice it. In Islam, family is sacrosanct, and casual dating is generally not encouraged in the younger generations by the elders within the family unit or wider community. Dating is regarded as a serious endeavor: a task designed for the sole purpose of establishing whether the other person would make for a suitable partner in matrimony. Casual dating is widely frowned upon.

In terms of the dates themselves, many Muslim families adhere to fairly strict conditions regarding appropriate behavior. It’s not uncommon for the female party to be accompanied by a chaperone, and that care is taken to express modest behavior. The rise of the Muslim dating app is helping to bridge the gap and make dating more accessible to those in the Muslim community, helping to connect individuals who share the same faith, background, and familial traditions.

When it comes to marriage itself, it’s no longer the norm for it to be arranged solely by the parents, although it’s still customary for both prospective bride and groom to seek parental approval before planning for the big day can commence.

Meaningful Conversations and Mutual Respect

In line with the deep importance of the family unit in Islam, it’s not surprising that its culture puts a great deal of emphasis on parents taking time to connect meaningfully with their children, no matter how old or young they are. This means encouraging frank, open, and respectful conversation, and it is an important part of Muslim family customs.

The benefit of this approach is that it can help guard kids and give them the defenses they need regarding some of the dangers of modern life, such as pressures from social media, feelings of insecurity, and other stresses.

Listening to the younger members of the family’s experiences and concerns attentively, calmly, and with compassion is an essential Islamic family tradition that parents within this religious community remain committed to passing on to the next generation today.

The Extended Family

In the Islamic community, living with the extended family is considered to be a normal arrangement and is a custom continued by even the newest generation of Muslims today. There are many benefits to this arrangement: as well as being advantageous financially (and environmentally), it helps to make for a smoother-running household: if both parents work, for example, there are often grandparents present to look after the children within their own home. Many Muslims, too, point to the fact that family elders in this arrangement aren’t at risk of experiencing the sense of loneliness and isolation that can beset seniors living far away from their grown-up kids in other communities and cultures.

Further, by living together, each generation benefits from the knowledge and experiences of the other, remaining connected as a tight-knit and supportive family unit.


Adherence to Ramadan

Fasting during and observation of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is a key custom that’s retained in even the most ‘modern’ of Islamic families. Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and, in 2023, will run from March 22nd to April 20th. It’s observed by Muslims all over the world and is a time for fasting, prayer, reflection, and community. Like all Islamic holidays, Ramadan begins at sundown – the dates of the festival change every year, as its beginning and end are linked to the appearance of the month’s crescent moon.

Ramadan is a time when many families set spiritual goals together, and children are usually involved in the preparations, such as helping out with decorating the house. Giving to charity is a central part of marking Ramadan, and it’s extremely important for many Muslim parents to model charitable behavior for their children during this special month. This could take the form of preparing meals for those in need or donating gifts of toys to a children’s charity.

The Importance of Family Customs

Just as in any community, the passing on of customs is an important part of Islamic life – for those Muslims living in the West, this remains an essential way to preserve dearly-held traditions from one generation to the next. From dating practices to the observation of religious festivals, these customs continue to enrich Muslim family life and the wider communities in which they’re based.

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