Working with Families, Infants, and Young Children from the Middle East

  • Youssef HrarEmail author
  • Muhammad Farhan


The Middle East can be understood as a mosaic of religious, cultures, ethnicities, and cultural practices. This chapter focuses on issues in the perinatal period and early childhood for families that practice Islam and who may embrace traditional Islamic beliefs. The taboo of consanguineous marriage, that is common in many other cultures, does not apply to the marriage between cousins. Women are often subordinated to male relatives or their husband when they marry. There is an emphasis on purity and cleanliness to avoid negative outcomes of the pregnancy and avoiding forbidden practices and respecting taboos. A number of protective devices are employed by women and used with young children to protect against evil spirits or djinns, evil angels, and the evil eye. Families may consult the traditional healer or marabout, as well as using modern medical practices concurrently. Muslim families may face increased prejudice in many industrialized countries and may fear expressing their beliefs openly or adhere to traditional practices. Parents often believe that adverse events are already written in the book of life and may accept them as the will of Allah, rather than attributing them to parents or caregivers. Religious practices and traditional remedies have a protective value for families facing adversities like migration, refugee status, and the turmoil observed in many areas of the Middle East. Some commonly observed culture-bound syndromes are described.


Patriarchalism Arranged marriage Consanguineous marriage Islamic teachings Haram practices Qur’an teachings Letter Female modesty Circumcision Djinns Evil angels Worried Marabout 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Baylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA
  2. 2.International ServicesTexas Childrens HospitalHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryTruman Medical Centers, University of Missouri Kansas CityKansas CityUSA

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