Culturally Sensitive Social Work Practice With Arab Clients

2002 words - 8 pages

Muslims believe Islam has always existed, but for practical purposes they date their religion from the migration of Muhammad, Seventh Century A.D. Muhammad was born to a noble family in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 570 A.D (PBS, 2012). According to Muslim belief, while on retreat in a cave near Mecca, Muhammad was visited by angel Gabriel at age 40. It is believed that Gabriel recited to Muhammad the first revelations of the Qur’an and told him that he was God’s final prophet. Muhammad was told to call his people to worship according to Gabriel’s instructions, but they reacted with hostility and persecuted him along with his few followers. In an attempt to escape persecution in 622 A.D., he and his followers migrated to Yathrib, current day Medina, where Islam was accepted (PBS, 2012). Eight years later Muhammad peacefully returned to Mecca with a large number of supporters and eventually all citizens accepted Islam. In 663 A.D, Muhammad died at age 93 but Islam continued to spread throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa (PBS, 2012). Approximately 10 to 15 percent of Africans forced into slavery during the 1800s were Muslim and many historians believe this began spread of Islam to the United States (PBS, 2003). However, maintaining their religion was difficult and many were converted to Christianity against their will. Muslim immigrants continued to migrate to the United States until 1924 when the Asian Exclusion Act was passed. In 1965 the immigration laws were revised and Muslim immigration continued (PBS, 2012).
Muslims typically identify themselves as members of one of three categories: Sunni, Shiite, or Sufi (International Mission Board, 2007). Although all Muslims can be defined as Islam followers, each category differs in specifics of beliefs and each has a set of unique cultural standards. Although each group interprets them a little differently, most Muslims strive to live by central tenants of faith called, “The Five Pillars of Islam.” This includes rules for day to day worship as well as charitable and devotional acts to be performed throughout one’s life (Kamal-Un-Din, 2010). In Asian countries where the population is predominately Shiite and Sunni Muslim, the laws are based on the holy book, Qur’an. Islam teaches Muslims to dress modestly, but the Qur’an is not very detailed concerning attire. The mode of dress can vary a great degree among different groups of Muslims. For example, some Muslims approve of pants and shirts, but may not agree with wearing shorts. As a part of their cultural upbringing, other Muslims may adhere to stricter attire including head scarves, body-length cloaks, and white loose-fitting robes (Haddad, Smith & Moore, 2006). Prayer is also another factor that makes Muslims unique. Among Islamic cultures, the specifics and requirements of faith may be interpreted differently concerning prayer. In some cultures, prayer time may be observed five times daily or more. Although sexism goes against Islamic teaching, many...

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