Islamic social work – a potential response to marginalisation

Authors: Ashencaen Crabtree, S.

Editors: Schmid, H. and Sheikhzadegan, A.

Start date: 11 September 2019

Journal: Islamic Social Work. From Community Services to Commitment to the Common Good.

Publisher: Springer Nature

In this presentation the socio-political position of British Muslims as the excluded ‘other’ is critically discussed in terms of structural and institutional Islamophobia relating to draconian counter-terrorism policies primarily targeting Islamist sympathisers and a hostile State immigration climate towards refugees, many of whom are Muslims, have exacerbated a sense of isolation and vulnerability among British Muslims, In general the wider socioeconomic status of European Muslims for some years has been reported as subject to higher levels of poverty and underprivilege, higher unemployment levels, poorer education implicating compromised health status compared to the general population. While in contrast to the general acceptance of other minority ethnic groups the position of Muslims remains that of the excluded ‘other’.

However, positions of marginalisation create strong critiques along with alternative perspectives with the potential to make powerful and transformatory contributions to social work. This may involve re-centering many of the values that Islam (and other Abrahamic religions) have always endorsed. For example, proactive community welfare and recognition of the humanity of others, is one such value that is espoused through the religious principle of zakat. Another, insan al-kamil, promotes the aspiration of the ideal and complete human, which in turn challenges the corrosive impact of underprivilege and all its evil manifestations. This, arguably, carries more power towards positive change for the service user than the depersonalised and neutralised practitioners concept of anti-oppressive practice.

This paper will explore both the ‘othering’ of European Muslims along with many of the challenges that affect this group. The discussion will consider how marginalised socio-cultural positions often inherently hold the experienced authority to shape mutual and beneficial exchange with professionals in the creation of new models of social work practice fit for the purpose of tackling social inequality and injustice.

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