Muslim Social Workers and Imams’ Recommendations in Marital and Child Custody Cases of Persons with Intellectual or Mental Disability

Badran Leena, Rimmerman Arie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Arab society in Israel is undergoing modernisation and secularisation. However, its approach to disability and mental illness is still dominated by religious and traditional stereotypes, as well as folk remedies and community practices. The present study examines differences in Muslim social workers and Imams’ recommendations in marriage/divorce and child custody cases of persons with intellectual disabilities (IDs) or mental illness. The study has two goals: (1) To examine differences in recommendations between Imams and Muslim social workers and (2) to explore variables related to their differential recommendations as observed in their responses to vignettes. Quantitative study using vignettes resembling existing Muslim religious (Sharia) court cases. Muslim social workers (138) and Imams (forty-eight) completed a background questionnaire, a religiosity questionnaire and a questionnaire that included twenty-five vignettes constructed by the researcher based on court rulings, adapted for the study. Muslim social workers tended to consider the religious recommendation when the family of person with ID or mental illness was portrayed in the vignette as religious. The same applied to Imams, albeit to a greater extent. The findings call for raising awareness amongst social workers and academics regarding the importance of religion and tradition in formulating professional recommendations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1249-1268
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved.


  • Sharia court
  • child custody
  • intellectual and developmental disability
  • marriage/divorce
  • mental illness
  • social workers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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