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What it means to be a Muslim youth in Canada: a scoping review of empirical studies

Aamir Jamal (Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada)
Liza Lorenzetti (Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada)
Swati Dhingra (Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada)
Clive Baldwin (School of Social Work, St. Thomas University, Fredericton, Canada)
Heather Ganshorn (Department of Libraries and Cultural Resources, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada)

Qualitative Research Journal

ISSN: 1443-9883

Article publication date: 11 October 2022

Issue publication date: 4 January 2023




Our thematic analysis of the academic literature on Canadian Muslim Youth aims to identify and describe the factors which contribute to the construction of identity among Muslim youth in Canada and make some research and policy recommendations to address this issue. In this review, we responded to the following questions: What is the current research evidence for Canadian Muslim Youth identity construction? What are the major themes included in the identified publications?


What does it mean to be a Muslim youth in Canada and how do Canadian Muslim youth negotiate and construct their identities in a globally polarized world? Using Arksey and O'Malley's framework (2005), a scoping review of empirical studies published between 2000 and 2021 was conducted to explore the diverse contexts that intersect in the creation of Canadian Muslim youth identity.


A thematic analysis of the literature identified five key themes: religiosity, racism and discrimination, parental influence, citizenship and gender that intersect in multiple ways to contribute to the construction of diverse and complex Muslim youth identities. The scoping review highlights a gap in community-based research and the need for a broader range of theoretical perspectives on Muslim youth identity construction, as well as culturally appropriate policies and social work practice models for positive youth development.


In contemporary Canadian culture, Muslim youth must negotiate and create their own exclusive identity, which justifies the context of what it means to be Canadian and Muslim at the same time. As highlighted in the literature, a number of tensions within the Canadian policy, between the policy and the Muslim tradition and within the Muslim community itself pose challenges in the identity development among Muslim youth. Therefore, It is critical for social work practitioners, researchers and policymakers to consider above mentioned socio-political and religious dimensions while designing, implementing and evaluating youth programs for Muslim communities.



This research is funded by “The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Canada”.


Jamal, A., Lorenzetti, L., Dhingra, S., Baldwin, C. and Ganshorn, H. (2023), "What it means to be a Muslim youth in Canada: a scoping review of empirical studies", Qualitative Research Journal, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 83-101.



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