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Current Research

A healthy marriage is associated with emotional, physical, and financial benefits for children and families. Marital dysfunction and divorce can negatively impact families and jeopardize psychological and physical health. Research demonstrates that relationship education and counseling can help couples improve their skills and decrease the risk factors for future marital distress and divorce. As divorce becomes more prevalent among American Muslims, it is increasingly important for families to understand how to build healthy marriages and minimize the risk of divorce as well as develop resources for positive development for individuals post-divorce.

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Preparing for Marriage: Attitudes and Experiences of American Muslims

The Family and Youth Institute Researchers: Amal Killawi, MSW & PhD Candidate

Marriage Research

How do American Muslims make the decision to marry? How do they prepare for marriage? Do they rely on advice from family and friends, books and articles, and/or marriage education classes? Little is known about the marriage preparation attitudes and experiences of American Muslims. This study focuses on understanding how American Muslims decide to marry and how they prepare for marriage. It will also examine the role families, religious leaders, and counseling professionals play and offer recommendations to help American Muslim couples prepare more effectively for marriage.

Collaborators in this area of study include Elham Fathi, MA (Allameh Tabataba’i University), Iman Dadras, MS, LAMFT (University of Minnesota), Arij Elmi, MSW, (University of Toronto), Hamada Hamid, DO, MPH (Yale University), Manijeh Daneshpour, PhD, LMFT (Alliant International University).

Young Muslim Converts: Love, Sex, and Marriage

The Family and Youth Institute Researchers: Sameera Ahmed, PhD, Hanan Hashem, MA, Saara Patel, MSW, Amal Killawi, MSW & PhD Candidate.

Marriage Research

A desire for intimacy and sexuality is a human need that many people typically explore during their adolescent and emerging adult years. However, how this desire and subsequent behavior intersects with profound life changes, such as religious conversion has yet to be adequately explored. This study examines how young Muslim converts navigate love, marriage, and their search for a partner, given the numerous challenges of conversion and integration into a new religious community. This study will highlight these experiences and provide recommendations on how to better support convert Muslims on their path to marriage.

Collaborators in this area of study include Cynthia Arfken, PhD (Wayne State University).

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Marriage Preparation Programs in the American Muslim Community

The Family and Youth Institute Researchers: Amal Killawi, MSW & PhD Candidate

Marriage Research

Research demonstrates that premarital education can help to reduce marital conflict and divorce. While empirical research exists on the effective components of marriage education, its application has not been extended to the American Muslim community. This study will evaluate religiously-based marriage preparation programs that are currently offered within the American Muslim community. Programs will be reviewed for their curriculum, integration of research-based content, and effectiveness in helping American Muslims prepare for marriage and establish healthy relationships.

The Help-Seeking Behaviors of American Muslims During Marital Conflict

The Family and Youth Institute Researchers: Amal Killawi, MSW & PhD Candidate

Marriage Research

Every couple has disagreements in their marriage. How they handle their disagreements is what determines marital success. So, how do American Muslim couples seek help when experiencing conflict in their marriage? Do they reach out to friends and family? Do they seek counseling from an imam, parent, and/or a mental health professional? This study will focus on exploring the help-seeking behaviors of American Muslims during times of marital conflict and examine the roles of families, religious leaders, and counseling professionals in resolving marital disputes.

Collaborators in this area of study include Elham Fathi, MA (Allameh Tabataba’i University), Iman Dadras, MS, LAMFT (University of Minnesota), Arij Elmi, MSW, (University of Toronto), Hamada Hamid, DO, MPH (Yale University), Manijeh Daneshpour, PhD, LMFT (Alliant International University).

List of Publications on Marriage


Zakat eligibility of The FYI

The Family & Youth Institute, or The FYI, is a well-known Muslim organization in the United States. It works to promote mental health and wellness by strengthening and empowering individuals, families, and communities through research and education. It has been working for many years to bring Islamic perspectives to understanding and promoting mental health in our communities.

It is dedicated to serving and supporting Muslims – safeguarding our deen, our families, and our future generations. Therefore, the work of The FYI comes in the category of ‘fi sabeelillah’ or the Path of Allah, within the eight categories where Zakat money can be used.

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah, And Allah, is Knowing and Wise.”
(Al-Tawbah 9:60)

According to scholars who widen the meaning of fee sabeelillah to include any activities that promote Islamic growth, The FYI is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. I urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. I ask Allah swt to strengthen and guide The FYI to continue its good work in supporting Muslims.

Shaikh Ali Suleiman Ali, PhD

About Shaikh Ali

Sh. Ali Suleiman Ali was born in Ghana where he spent his childhood studying with various Muslim scholars. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and enrolled in the Islamic University of Madina.  He graduated with a degree in both Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Ali went on to complete his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Sh. Ali serves on the Advisory Council of The Family & Youth Institute. He is the Senior Imam and Director of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, Michigan. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit and is a council member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). He is also a member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).