Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Saad Alamri



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Evelyn Wright

Committee Member

Emily Thrush

Committee Member

Ronald Fuentes

Committee Member

Rebecca Adams


Earlier Family Language Policy (FLP) research has focused on ethnic identities, mobility, and transnationality, as well as, to a lesser extent, gender and familial kinship; few studies have focused primarily on religion as a factor in FLP processes. Religion is particularly important in the FLP of Muslim families who speak Arabic as a first or additional language, as many of the daily Islamic practices necessitate the use of Arabic. Therefore, this dissertation sets out to investigate the impact of religious beliefs and practices on the FLP of non-Arab Muslim families. I particularly focused on Pakistani expatriate/immigrant families raising their children bi-/multilingually in Saudi Arabia to see how they navigate and construct their family language strategies while following and practicing a ‘linguistically foreign,’ i.e., not native to Pakistan, religion. I explain in this study how this context was/is quite interesting because it involves families whose heritage language is Urdu while simultaneously adhering to a religion with a restricted language policy that necessitates the use of Arabic almost daily. Six families (including one single parent family) of Pakistani origin living in Saudi Arabia who had at least one child participated in the study. The study employed ethnographic qualitative multiple case studies as I treated each family as a case study. The data sources included approximately 20 hours of naturally occurring data, multiple home observations, and in-depth interviews with the families. Given the large number of participants and the volume of data obtained, I decided to first analyze the data and present them in an independent manner using a within-case analysis. I then conducted a cross-cases analysis of all FLPs combined which answered the research questions and provided a picture of how Pakistani families in Saudi Arabia form and manage their FLPs, as well as the effect of religion on these policies. The cross-cases analysis revealed how religion in general, and religious beliefs and practices in particular, may significantly influence language beliefs, practices, and management in the family domain. The study found that many of the participating families prioritized Arabic over their heritage language owing to the holiness of the Arabic language because of its relationship with the Islamic faith. That is, the Pakistani Muslim parents in this study, driven by their religion, their desire of raising their children to be practice Muslims, the fear of the religious consequences in the afterlife, and the One ‘Ummah’ identity felt obligated to teach or pass on Arabic to their children. In other words, the language restriction in the Islamic Language Policy, as manifested through its practices that necessitated the use of Arabic, impacted the language use and choice in the Urdu-speaking families in this study.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest.


Embargoed until 4-28-2024

Available for download on Sunday, April 28, 2024