School for Social Work
This exploratory study examined how Muslim American couples are psychologically and relationally impacted by heightened discrimination in the wake of September 11th and The Iraq War. Utilizing interviews with six Muslim American couples who have been married for at least six years (through September 11th and The Iraq War), the study identified that religious discrimination against Muslim Americans is experienced as pervasive and endemic—existing at multiple levels: attitudinal, interpersonal, structural, institutional, and systemic. The study found that in response to (rather than in spite of) religious discrimination, Muslim American couples exhibit increased resiliency and strength through the tenets of their faith (particularly, the primacy placed on marital union), their shared faith practice, and the resource of their religious communities. The study concluded that the majority of couples do not view religious discrimination as having amplified due to September 11th and The Iraq War; instead, couples believed these events surfaced underlying, pre-existing anti-Muslim sentiment. As such, the study determined that, due to this surfacing, couples found a division within their relationship along gender lines—women who wear Islamic head-covering (hijab) are more visibly Muslim, thereby their experience of discrimination is ten-fold that of their male counterparts. The results of this study have several implications for multicultural counseling and social work practice with Muslim Americans. This study informs social work practitioners of how to recognize and foster the strengths, coping mechanisms and faith integration of Muslim Americans as they respond to the negative affects of their present day sociopolitical environment.
Goodman, Brianne; Goodman Carter, Brianne; and Carter, Brianne Goodman, "The strength of Muslim American couples in the face of heightened discrimination from September 11th and the Iraq War" (2008). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.