Family is at the center of both African Muslim community life in New York City and Harlem society, and this chapter explores a number of issues related to it. But what family means to each group might differ in particular contexts and overlap in others. In today’s world, the secularization of sex and marriage, which reflects the blurring of the line between formal and informal unions, has had an impact on African Muslims seeking to maintain more traditional marital arrangements, while others look for more flexibility regarding their sexuality. Far away from the familial networks of their home countries, questions about cross-cultural marriage, polygyny, or homosexuality require new answers. In the New York arena, some find themselves becoming marriage guardians, assisting their fellows with mate selection, and others become fictive relatives for local residents, expanding the notion of extended family.
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