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I’m a social worker, a Muslim and proud of it!

Dr. Aneesah Nadir –

March is Social Work Month! I celebrate it and applaud those that have been and continue to be committed to the mission of this honorable profession.

Social workers are on the front lines working to assist people and families with mental health challenges, prevent and address domestic violence and child abuse. We work with the refugee community and people with disabilities. We work in community organizations that help the hungry and the homeless. We work to make healthcare and legal services affordable for those in need. We are in the state legislature and on Capitol Hill working to effect social policy change and make a difference in health, education, human services, our environment and our society. And we educate the next generation of professional social workers.

In 1975 I was 19 years old. I thought I might become a teacher, or go to law school but Allah called me to become a social worker. The same year He swt called me to accept Islam as my religion. I believe it was the Qadr of Allah. It was my destiny.

I have had the most varied and fulfilling career. I helped pregnant teenagers get prenatal services, and military members and their families prevent child abuse and domestic violence. I have assisted patients in every department of the hospital I worked in from the emergency room to medical-surgical to labor and delivery. I cared for troubled teenagers in foster care. I worked to prevent substance abuse and help teenagers get jobs. I provided family and marital counseling in my private practice.

The work that I am most proud of is helping to begin a movement to promote the importance of social services, mental health services and premarital education in the Muslim community even when it was unpopular to do so. As a diversity trainer I have had the opportunity to teach social workers and other human service professionals about the traditions and beliefs of Muslim Americans. But I am most honored as a social work professor to have had the opportunity for more than 20 years to educate and train the next generation of social workers in Arizona.

Last week Veronica Payan, a social worker and one of my former students, honored me with a Facebook post, “There was so much hate against the Muslim community after 911 that a young group of aspiring social workers from ASU decided to walk the walk and find out what it was like to be a Muslim-American Post 911. For me, it was one of the most eye opening experiences during my time at ASU and the one that helped me become not only a better social worker but a better and kinder human being.” Veronica was referring to the day we took a field trip to the Islamic Community Center of Tempe for a tour and an experience.

SaraRose Young, another social worker and former student, posted in response, “We are striving to be advocates and peacemakers because of people that have left a great impact on us and encouraged us, people like you (Dr. Nadir).”

Veronica ended with, “Wa Alaykum As Salaam Dr Aneesah Nadir! Thank you for helping us be the best professionals we can be, but above all, thank you for your contribution on making this world a better place for EVERYONE.”

I believe this is why I was called to be a social worker and a Muslim and I am so proud and grateful. I look forward to mentoring and encouraging the next generation of Muslim American social workers as well. Happy Social Work Month!

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