Disability Project

Welcome to our Disabilities Digital Archive, a project conducted as part of Arab and Muslim Women’s Research and Resource Institute’s vision to create data and oral histories regarding women’s experiences and transform them into meaningful information. To that end, this project seeks to explore gendered disability and facilitate more complex understandings of disability at the intersection of gender, culture, immigration, and other forms of identity. By collecting data from Muslim community members in Milwaukee, including people with differences of ability and their families, caregivers, Imams and religious scholars, community organization leaders, and health care/mental health professionals, we strive to present a fuller picture to break down stigma and increase access to resources for people with differences of ability.

For more information, see: https://amwrri.org/cms/files/original/2ba437efd3918c47316fdb8551d283523b1d1aaf.pdf

  • Interview

    The respondent is an Arab-American male who was born in the United States. He is married and has one child just over a year old. He emphasized desire for unity across religious backgrounds and how this could contribute to the betterment of addressing racial issues. Stated to have a large interest in the topics of social justice and demonstrated a larger involvement and interest in how not only the recent social justice movements, but COVID-19 pandemic have impacted the ways that individuals are seen and can affect change. Respondent supported that the Muslim has and is one of inclusivity and that, as such, its followers should support inclusivity and multiculturalism in their own lives. He also suggested that Muslims, Imams and other religious leaders should speak out and comfort the people who are getting discriminated against. Knowledge and teaching are needed, especially teaching the younger generation how important it is to judge somebody by their heart and not by their religion or race. He also believes that the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities should be working with one another.
  • Interview

    This transcript is focused on how this participant has adjusted his life during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has begun working from home, spending more time with his family, and has been able to rely on his religion to help him through this time. He has been able to communicate with friends and family through apps focused on video and/or audio communication. He has also been able to connect with his faith through having more time to read and watch videos connecting him and his family closer to the scripture. He also touched on how social justice issues should be a focus within the Muslim community and how his generation should contribute to this focus – that it’s his generation’s duty to get on boards of mosques so that they can play a role in educating the members about social justice. He sees a generational gap in awareness of social justice issues and actions that should be taken to promote social justice. He also presented a thoughtful and perceptive analysis of the generational differences regarding social justice.
  • Interview

    The COVID-19 pandemic has affected U.S. Muslims, even in ways that may have not been foreseeable at the beginning of the crisis. This participant has had the fortune of being financially secure throughout the pandemic but has missed out on visiting family both states and countries away. Though this participant was not a regular in-person attendee of her mosque anyway before the pandemic hit, she has noticed the wider spread impact on her religious community. Tenets of Islam, including the idea that God would not give us anything we could not handle, have been a source of strength. Finally, spending extra time with her infant son has been a silver lining in an otherwise difficult situation. Respondent recommends that Imams and other religious leaders work more on educating the community around social justice issues that are occurring around the nation or around the world or in their own community. She sees a generational gap in awareness of social justice issues and actions that should be taken to promote social justice.
  • Interview

    The respondent is a Palestinian-American woman, 32 years of age, who grew up in the Midwestern U.S. She now lives in Virginia with her husband and three daughters who are all of school age. In the interview, the respondent shared about her experience with COVID-19 as causing a lot of change, both positive and negative. Some of the less desirable outcomes of the pandemic have included isolation from family and friends especially during Ramadan season, changing from her job as a preschool teacher to an at-home school-teacher for several children, including her own (there were positive aspects to this change, as well, as she is still doing what she loves to do). She describes giving to others in many ways, like by dropping off food for many people on their doorstep, being a “therapist” to so many people on the phone, making worksheets for kids of friends. Positive outcomes from the pandemic have included the respondent drawing closer to her faith, spending more family time together, her children learning more effectively in their online Islamic studies classes than they did in-person over the last five years, and connecting with geographically-distant family more often. Also, she has been able to teach her kids about being active in social justice initiatives like Black Lives Matter, which she and her family, as well as her mosque and nearby Islamic centers, have been active in supporting both theologically and by showing up.
  • Interview

    Yasmine is a 26-year old graduate with a bachelors in sociology from University Wisconsin Milwaukee. Her real passion though is makeup. She is now a makeup artist in Milwaukee, and is part of the female art collective Fanana Banana, formed for Muslim and minority artists. She was born in Arlington, Virginia before her family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She identifies as Sudanese American although she has never been to Sudan. She never grew up particularly religious but has always spent her life in Muslim communities. Only in the past two years has she really begun to embrace and grow in her Muslim identity. She describes herself as the strongest person she knows and is proud to say that she is growing each day. Though she is strong, she contributes her strength to the racism she has faced not only in American society but in her Muslim community as well. Although not from Sudan herself, she gains her strength from the people she tries to empower back home in Sudan through organized protests and raising awareness. Her connection to her homeland is rooted in her fight for Sudanese and Muslim people both in Sudan and America.
  • Interview

    Mr. Sameer Ali is a 2014 college graduate of Stanford University. He is an Imam and Chaplain at Marquette University. He is from India but grew up in New Jersey where most of his family still resides today. Growing up with two siblings, Mr. Ali identifies mostly as American and acknowledges that people culturally similar have different experiences. When not serving as a Chaplain, Mr. Ali serves as an Imam where his duties include delivering sermons, counseling, performing religious rituals, and being available as a pastoral minister to his community. At his Mosque, Mr. Ali serves to make participation easy for all by providing wheelchair accessibility to the disabled and aims to be open and accepting to all who come to worship. To those experiencing hardships or relationship struggles, Mr. Ali makes time to sit down and listen to his people. It is important to him to meet the spiritual and emotional needs of his community members. Mr. Ali is proud that America is a country based on immigrants and is a nation built on preserving the liberty of those with unique religions and countries.
  • Interview

    Rami Mardini is a 19 year old college student at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was born in the United States; his mother migrated to the U.S. and when Rami was born, they shortly moved back to Syria to reunite with the rest of their family. He identifies as a Syrian-American with strong ties to his homeland of Syria, where a lot of his family still resides. With the war in Syria, Rami experienced many hardships that exist hand in hand with conflict, and had immense fear growing up in a country torn by war. Rami experienced bombings outside of his high school, and explains how terror became a normal part of his everyday life. He came to the United States with his triplet sisters, his grandmother, and his grandfather in order to advance his education with the intent of attending medical school and becoming a doctor. His parents stayed in Syria, and later joined him in the U.S. two years later.
  • Interview

    Nylah Ali is a 19 year old student at Marquette University. While she was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she identifies strongly as a Palestinian American as she grew up in Palestine from the age of four to nine. She also identifies as a first generation American although her mother was raised in California and Hawaii. Since living in Milwaukee, from the age of nine, Nylah Ali has connected strongly with her community and religion, as she takes time work for her local mosque. Although Nylah Ali has experienced occasional instances of feeling like an outcast compared to the average American due to her religion in the United States, she explains that overall being Muslim helps her feel empowered. Nylah Ali also discusses the importance of tradition, specifically in terms of family and marriage, and what it means to her.
  • Interview

    Nadia Malik, a Marquette University student in biomedical sciences discusses her experience as a Muslim American woman in today’s society. She is second generation, with both other parents being immigrants from Pakistan at a young age. Having moved to multiple states throughout her life, she has gotten to experience multiple Muslim communities across America. Within the interview, we got onto topics that really put into perspective how Americans view Muslims. Through her experiences with racism and discrimination, she tells how she led a very normal life despite what people who hold prejudice may think. Within these experiences, she weaved in the great service work she has done, which is rooted in her firsthand beliefs; helping her brother with down syndrome. She hopes to continue her passion for helping people in her future career and has the full intention to leave her mark on the world.
  • Interview

    Maaz Ahmed is a nineteen-year-old who attends Marquette University. Maaz identifies as Muslim but is unsure about his religion now, or how much he wants to be involved with it, causing Maaz to have issues in identity in relation to religion and culture. Maaz has traditional parents so conflicts arise when he does not follow his religious practices that his parents expect from him, especially with the career path he is choosing because of a generational gap. Maaz has felt segregated because of how he identifies as a Muslim especially in a predominantly white school and with the major he has chosen which adds to the feeling of division. Although Maaz feels segregated at times being a Muslim and identifying as Queer, he has not felt threatened by the people who discriminate against his culture and identity.
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