Experiences of Faith for Gender Role Non-Conforming Muslims in Resettlement: Preliminary Considerations for Social Work Practitioners

S. Kahn (2015)

The British Journal of Social Work

45 (7) | 2038–2055

For social workers striving for cultural competency and strength-based approaches with refugees resettled in the West, attention to the role of religion and faith as potential resources is particularly vital. With rising numbers of refugees fleeing from Islamic societies to Western host countries over the past two decades, social work research has articulated Islam as a source of strength and group solidarity, as well as the trigger for anti-Islam bias and discrimination. However, Muslims are not a monolithic group. This article reports on a qualitative study with fourteen Muslims seeking US asylum due to persecution based upon their gender role non-conforming behaviours.

Findings suggest that, for persons in this category, relationships to religion and faith may be complex, and potentially traumatic. Creating opportunities for gender role non-conforming refugees from Islamic societies to discuss religion and spirituality, with appropriate psychological support and without judgements from co-ethnic others or service providers, is an important clinical intervention for social workers to consider.