The present study examines differences in Muslim social workers and Imams' recommendations in marriage/divorce and child custody cases of persons with intellectual disabilities (ID) 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.
Methods: Quantitative study using vignettes resembling existing Muslim religious (Sharia) court cases in the Triangle area in Israel. Muslim social workers (138), and Imams (48) completed a background questionnaire, a religiosity questionnaire (DUREL), and a questionnaire that included 25 vignettes constructed by the researchers based on court rulings, adapted for the study.
To examine the purpose related to participant variables, a chi-square test was conducted. We used the CHAID algorithm to analyze the case description variables to examine the second purpose.
Results: The core finding was related to the family’s religiosity. When explicitly stated that the family was religious, it received special attention by Muslim social workers and Imams. Both groups (Muslim social workers and Imams) tended to make religious recommendations when a family member of the person with ID or mental illness was explicitly described as religious. 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 CHAID analysis of the social workers showed that the religiosity of the person with disabilities is strongly related to the tendency to endorse the religious recommendation, followed by the variables; marriage/divorce and child custody.
Conclusions and Implications: The findings highlight the importance of addressing the cultural and traditional background of the person with a disability and particularly their family in social workers’ recommendations. They are also relevant to training social workers and planning social policy.