Arab American Marriage: Culture, Tradition, Religion, and the Social Worker

Alean Al-Krenawi, Stephen O. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The growing and varied Arab American population and the continuing stereotyping and mistrust between people of Arab descent and other Americans make the need for culturally competent social work more pronounced. This study considers the importance the institutions of marriage and family retain within what can be a generally high-context community. Marriage, family, and religious relationships can be complicated by a sense of honor and stigma alongside frequently distressing experiences or news from the country of origin. Various generations of Arab Americans are returning with their Middle Eastern counterparts to their religions to reestablish their identities. We shall consider the problems between fundamental and enlightened readings and understandings of the traditional marriage contract, especially under Sharia law, and traditional gender roles in relation to the varied expectations of the bride and groom, the extended families, and the cultural community. We suggest ways that social workers can develop skillful communications within effective cultural community networks to offset both inappropriate and insensitive misdiagnosis and treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-137
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment
Issue number2
StatePublished - 30 Jan 2014


  • Arab American
  • Sharia
  • cultural community
  • marriage
  • stereotyping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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