This paper presents initial findings from an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)- funded project ‘Genetics, religion and identity: a study of Bangladeshis in the UK’. The aim of this interdisciplinary study is to explore the role of Islam among UK Bangladeshis in relation to genetic counselling, and to understand how Bangladeshi Muslims in the UK make sense of genetically related diseases. In particular, the intention is to find out how Bangladeshi Muslims in the UK made decisions about genetic testing, and how (if at all) information about possible genetic risk factors are transmitted from one generation to the next in Bangladeshi Muslim families. In addition the project aims to explore how British Bangladeshis negotiate the possibly conflicting messages they may receive from health professionals and Islamic authorities, and whether Islam plays a role in accounting for genetic disorders and in helping families to care for affected members. This paper presents the results of some preliminary discussions with British Bangladeshi women and with Bangladeshi imams (Muslim clerics), which have yielded valuable information regarding opinions about and knowledge of genetically related disease.
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