The Intersectionality between Religion and Sexuality: A Qualitative Study of Young Muslim Students Experiences

Sahar Khanpour and Dr. Tai Mendenhall, Department of Family Social Science Couple and Family Therapy, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455

Few studies to-date have explored the intersection(s) of Islam and human sexuality. This paucity of knowledge translates into poorly-equipped educators and clinicians who would otherwise be positioned to help young adults navigate contemporary Western culture(s). Current-day messages are often complex and contradictory, e.g., highly sexualized media vis-à-vis conventional dictates to remain “pure”; double-standards that allow binary men considerable latitude in sexual behaviors vis-à-vis gendered standards that stigmatize binary women for the same behaviors. This presentation will highlight key findings from an inductive qualitative investigation of Muslim university students (n=8) about their lived-experiences and wisdom related to these foci. Through key informant interviews (transcribed verbatim and analyzed using a thematic analysis method), participants described struggles and successes with integrating and balancing their Muslim identities in a Western world. They described how, by reinterpreting elements of the Quran and through self-and-family differentiation, it was (is) possible to embrace Islam in a manner that feels personally pious and sexually healthy. Implications of these findings for educational- and clinical- pursuits are described as both empowering and strengths-based. Next-steps in scholarship – across both qualitative and quantitative methods of inquiry – are outlined as essential toward more comprehensive and representative understandings.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Sahar Khanpour

Institution: University of Minnesota

Type: Poster

Subject: Psychology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 10
Date/Time: Wed 1:30pm-2:30pm
Session Number: 6643