Islamic Social Services Challenges and Opportunities

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Aneesah Nadir

Keywords

Abstract

The Sixth Annual Conference of the Islamic Social Services Association
(ISSA) was held June 17-19, 2005, at Arizona State University (ASU) and
the Holiday Inn in Tempe, Arizona. Sponsors included the Department of
Social Work, ASU at the West Campus; the School of Social Work, ASU at
the Tempe Campus; the National Association of Social Workers–Arizona
chapter; the Muslim American Society–Arizona chapter; the Council on
American Islamic Relations–Arizona chapter; the Muslim Students Association
at ASU Tempe Campus; the Muslim Law Students’Association at ASU;
the Islamic Center of the East Valley; and Global Medical Technologies.
The conference and pre-conference institute continued ISSA’s mission:
promoting awareness of the social welfare, mental health, and family concerns
facing Muslims in North America by educating mainstream
providers, Muslim practitioners involved in providing human services,
imams, and community leaders. The pre-conference institute’s theme was
“Muslim Culture and Faith,” the title of ISSA’s anti-bias project training for
mainstream providers. The conference’s theme was “Islamic Social
Services: Challenges and Opportunities.”
Pre-conference institute presenters Aneesah Nadir (Arizona State
University and ISSA–USA) and Shahina Siddiqui (ISSA–Canada) provided
information about Muslim culture, traditions, beliefs, the history of Islam
and Muslims in North America, and social issues facing Muslims, as well
as guidelines and considerations for addressing the social issues that
Muslims’ experience. Social workers, counselors, teachers, health-care and
mental-health providers from mainstream social service organizations, public
and private schools attended the pre-conference institute.
Social work educators, doctoral candidates, and Muslim community
social service providers were among the presenters for the overall ISSA conference.
Abdul Malik Mujahid (Soundvision), Omar Shahin (National
Association of Imams Federation [NAIF]), Mohamed Magid (All Dulles
Area Muslim Society [ADAMS]) and Bonita McGee (ISSA–USA) facilitated
discussions with imams and community leaders. This session explored
ways imams can address social issues and strategies Muslim social service
providers can employ to help them meet the community’s social needs.
While the imams identified a complex situation with a variety of problems
and solutions, it became clear that they do not have the knowledge and skills
to address the community’s many social and family issues. Opportunities for
consultation and education with imams and mosque leaders are necessary,
therefore, organizations like NAIF are working with ISSA to provide this to
their members. Imams also need to be recognized as professionals with clear
job descriptions and regular (including counseling) hours. One imam is not
enough; perhaps youth imams and assistant imams are needed ...

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