2018 – 2022 – The Cultural Stigma of Disabilities among Muslim Population

Call for Participation: The Issue of Differences of Abilities among Muslim Communities

Arab and Muslim Women’s Research and Resource Institute (AMWRRI)

Our Dear Community Members:

There are many issues of concern that our community has yet to address, and the stigma of differences of abilities is one of the pressing ones. We need your help to empower our Muslim families, health providers, and researchers to understand the stigmatizing effects of differences of abilities and to promote positive change. Through a grant with Marquette University, AMWRRI is conducting research on this critically important issue. We are seeking community volunteers who have a difference of ability or have a family member with a difference of ability or who provide care to a Muslim who has a difference of ability. Volunteers can participate in any or all of the following ways:

  1. Participate in surveys and interviews.
  2. Meet with our team to start a discussion about issues of differences of abilities and the ways to overcome the stigma. We need your help to come up with options for better lives for Muslim families.

Our project seeks to understand the weight of cultural beliefs about differences of abilities and to explore ways of influencing cultures by spurring dialogues with our Islamic scholars and Imams and healthcare professionals. Our goal is to bring down the barriers to care for Milwaukee Muslim women (and, through them, the community at large) by ending the cultural stigmatization of ability differences. We will also organize public events designed to connect community members and health professionals.

Your participation in any stage of this project is voluntarily. Unless you request to be identified, your name will not be disclosed to the public, and you will not be referenced by name in any material obtained from this project.

If you are interested in participating, or if you have any questions about our project, please contact me at info@amwrri.org or 414 288-5761.

Thank you for considering this opportunity to improve people’s lives and the communities in which we live.

Enaya Othman, PhD.

 

Project Description:

AMWRRI, a group of Marquette University faculty and student researchers, and a number of Milwaukee community institutions are teaming together to understand the stigmatizing effects of disabilities and to promote positive change among Muslim communities.

The Project is a combination of face-to-face interviews with online information exchange and dissemination. Our main goals are to: 1) empower Milwaukee’s disabled members and their families who are in Muslim communities, especially Muslim women, to share their stories, lead a public reflection on disability, establish support networks, and seek help through a digital archive and face-to-face meetings; and 2) spur a conversation about disability among community members, researchers, and health professionals. The community digital archive—the centerpiece of our plan—is a website that will provide a safe space for different stakeholders to interact, and a data source for researchers and health professionals. It consists of three parts: 1) sharing: a community-generated, project team-led collection of testimonies; 2) connecting: a discussion board connecting disabled women or families who have a disabled member to each other and to available resources; and 3) reflecting: a space for blogs, modeling a multi-disciplinary reflection on cultural constructions of disability and Islam. Opportunities for information gathering and exchange of ideas, information and reflection will be organized off-line through focus groups, discussions, workshops, and newsletters for community members and professionals. Our team includes experts in relevant disciplines who are members of the target communities, which will ensure our effective leadership of this project.

Some initial questions the project will explore:

  1. What are the reasons for the stigma surrounding mental and physical disabilities? Are these rooted in the culture and/or based on misinterpretation or religious texts? What are some of these misconceptions?
  2. Which kind of disabilities do people experience as the most stigmatizing? Why?
  3. Do the Muslim communities have means to manage mental and physical disabilities? If not, how should they acquire these?
  4. Why is disability an instant disqualifier from participation in standardized social performance?
  5. How should community members, organizations, and healthcare professionals work together to normalize and increase the participation of disabled members in communities’ social activities?

If you would like to participate and contribute to this project and give your account as a Muslim member who has a disability or a family member with disability, please contact us with your contact information at  info@amwrri.org or 414 288-5761.

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