Contemporary Islam

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 353–372 | Cite as

Assessing needs of aging Muslims: A focus on metro-Detroit faith communities

  • Kristine J. Ajrouch
  • Nour Fakhoury


The purpose of this study was to provide a critical perspective on the needs of aging Muslims by focusing on a diverse group of older adults including those with ancestry from African American, South Asian, Arab, and Albanian origins. Four focus group discussions were conducted with adults aged 60+ recruited from four Muslim centers in the metro-Detroit area. Grounded analysis uncovered themes related to needs, strengths and challenges in the Muslim community, as well as suggestions for the way forward in addressing aging issues. Needs identified include quality of life and social relations. Strengths included references to tradition and scripture. Challenges named referred to conflict both within and outside of the family. Finally, the way forward consisted of the desire for options to support aging families within the community, often in small steps, though not necessarily only through mosques. Findings also suggested that women may be a key agent of change within the Muslim community. In sum, this study uncovered areas of overlap and at times disagreement between and within groups, underlining the fact that there is no one kind of Muslim aging, and that any approach to caring for Muslims must combine cultural sensitivity with flexibility in order to minimize anxiety and stress for both elders and their families.


African American Aging Albanian Arab Family Muslim South Asian 



This research was supported by a grant from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU). The authors of this research are fully responsible for its content, which does not necessarily reflect views of the funding source.


  1. Agar, M., & MacDonald, J. (1995). Focus groups and ethnography. Human Organization, 54, 78–86.Google Scholar
  2. Ahmed, L. (1992). Women and gender in Islam: Historical roots of a modern debate. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Ajrouch, K. J. (1999). Family and ethnic identity in an Arab American community. In M. Suleiman (Ed.), Arabs in America: Building a new future (pp. 129–139). Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Ajrouch, K. J. (2005). Arab-American immigrant elders’ views about social support. Ageing & Society, 25(5), 655–673.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ajrouch, K. J. (2007). Resources and well-being among Arab-American elders. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, 22(2), 167–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ajrouch, K. J. (2008). Muslim faith communities: links with the past, bridges to the future. Generations, 32(2), 47–50.Google Scholar
  7. Bullock, K. (Ed.). (2005). Muslim Women Activists in North America: Speaking for ourselves. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  8. Carter, C. S. (1997). Using African-centered principles in family-preservation services. Families in Society, 78(5), 531–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dillworth-Anderson, P., & Burton, L. (1999). Critical issues in understanding family support and older minorities. In T. P. Miles (Ed.), Full Color Aging (pp. 93–106). Washington, DC: The Gerontological Society of America.Google Scholar
  10. Dow, H. D., & Woolley, S. R. (2011). Mental health perceptions and coping strategies of Albanian immigrants and their families. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 37(1), 95–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Estes, C. (1993). The aging enterprise revisited. Gerontologist, 33(3), 292–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Haddad, Y. Y. (1998). The dynamics of Islamic identity in North America. In Y. Y. Haddad & J. L. Esposito (Eds.), Muslims on the Americanization Path? (pp. 21–56). Atlanta: Scholars.Google Scholar
  13. Hasnain, R., & Rana, S. (2010). Unveiling Muslim voices: aging parents with disabilities and their adult children and family caregivers in the U.S.: a call for research and action. Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, 26(1), 46–61.Google Scholar
  14. Howell, S. F. (2009). Inventing the American Mosque: Early Muslims and their institutions in Detroit, 19101980. Unpublished Dissertation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.Google Scholar
  15. Howes, C. (2009). Who will care for the women? Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, 30(2/3), 248–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hughes, D., & DuMont, K. (1993). Using focus groups to facilitate culturally-anchored research. American Journal of Community Psychology, 21, 775–806.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jarrett, R. L., & Burton, L. M. (1999). Dynamic dimensions of family structure in low-income African American families: emergent themes in qualitative research. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 30, 177–187.Google Scholar
  18. Jasso, G. (2008). New immigrant survey. In W. A. Darity Jr. (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (2nd ed., Vol. 5, pp. 499–500). Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA.Google Scholar
  19. Lamb, S. (2005). Cultural and moral values surrounding care and (in)dependence in late life: reflections from India in an era of global modernity. Care Management Journals, 6(2), 80–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Leonard, K. I. (2003). Muslims in the United States: the state of research. New York: Russel, Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  21. McCloud, B. T. (1991). African-American Muslim Women. In Y. Y. Haddad (Ed.), The Muslims of America (pp. 177–187). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  23. Mishal, A. A. (2006). Aging: Scientific and Islamic perspectives. In H. E. Fadell (Ed.), FIMA Year Book 2005–2006, Geriatrics & End of Life Issues: Biomedical, Ethical & Islamic Horizons (pp. 1–18). Amman: Jordan Society for Islamic Medical Sciences.Google Scholar
  24. Moody, H. R. (1990). The Islamic vision of aging and death. Generations, 14(4), 15–18.Google Scholar
  25. Morgan, D. L. (1988). Focus Groups as Qualitative Research. Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
  26. Pew Research Center, (2007). Muslim Americans: Middle class and mostly mainstream. Retrieved December 22, 2011, from
  27. Read, J. G. (2008). Faith, fact, and fiction: what Muslim Americans really mean for US democracy. Contexts, 7(4), 39–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Read, J. G., & Oselin, S. (2008). Gender and the education-employment paradox in ethnic and religious contexts: the case of Arab Americans. American Sociological Review, 73(2), 296–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Roer-Strier, D., Sands, R. G., & Bourjolly, J. (2009). Family reactions to religious change: the case of African American Women who became Muslim. Family in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 90(2), 220–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ross-Sheriff, F. (1994). Elderly Muslim immigrants: Needs and challenges. In Y. Y. Haddad & J. I. Smith (Eds.), Muslim Communities in North America (pp. 407–421). Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  31. Rowe, J. W., & Kahn, R. L. (1997). Successful aging. Gerontologist, 37(4), 433–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Said, E. (1989). Islam and the health of the elderly. In W. M. Clements (Ed.), Religion, Aging and Health: A global perspective (pp. 27–38). New York: Haworth.Google Scholar
  33. Sapp, S. (2008). Mortality and respect: aging in the Abrahamic traditions. Generations, 32(2), 20–25.Google Scholar
  34. Sengstock, M. C. (1996). Care of elderly within Muslim families. In B. C. Aswad & B. Bilge (Eds.), Families and Gender among American Muslims (pp. 271–297). Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Sirin, S. R., Bikmen, N., Mir, M., Fine, M., Zaal, M., & Katsiaficas, D. (2008). Exploring dual identification among Muslim-American emerging adults: a mixed method study. Journal of Adolescence, 31(2), 259–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Soares, B. F. (2000). Notes on the anthropological study of Islam and Muslim societies in Africa. Culture and Religion, 1(2), 277–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stoller, E. P., & Gibson, R. C. (Eds.). (2000). Worlds of Difference: Inequality in the Aging Experience. Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge.Google Scholar
  38. Strauss, A. (1987). Qualitative Analysis for Social Scientists. New York: University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Trix, F. (1994). Bektashi tekke and the Sunni mosque of Albanian Muslims in America. In Y. Y. Haddad & J. I. Smith (Eds.), Muslim Communities in North America (pp. 359–380). Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  40. Trix, F. (2008). The seeing of our eyes: an Albanian Sufi Baba (Balkan Sufi leader in United States). In F. Trix, J. Walbridge, & L. Walbridge (Eds.), Muslim voices and lives in the contemporary world (pp. 17–29). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Eastern Michigan UniversityYpsilanitUSA
  2. 2.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

Personalised recommendations