Islam And Christianity: A Comparative Study And Its Relevance To Social Work

Foundations of Islam as a Religion

Islam is a religion that is one thousand and four hundred years old. It was founded by Muhammad in 600 AD. Islam is a monotheistic faith based on revelations received by the Prophet Muhammad (Muslim Rituals and Practices, 2016). Muslims believe that Muhammad was the final Prophet sent by God to reveal their faith in humanity (Islam, 2018). Islam is by far one of the largest religions in the world. It has an estimated one billion followers (Muslim Rituals and Practices, 2016).

Principles and Practices in Islam

Islam began in Mecca, in modern-day Saudi Arabia. Islam means submission to the will of God. People who follow this religion are called Muslims, their God is also known as Allah, and they believe Allah is the only God. Muslims expect to live a life of complete submission to Allah. They follow a strict, straightforward lifestyle base on Sharia Law. Sharia Law is Islam’s legal system, a faith-based code of conduct that guides Muslims in every aspect of how they should live. They believe everything happens because Allah allowed it, and nothing can happen without Allah’s permission. Muslims worship Allah by praying and reciting the Quran, which is Islam’s most significant holy text (Islam, 2018).

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In addition, Muslims identify themselves with the 5 Pillars of Islam, which focuses on their ritual practices. One of the pillars is called “Shahada,” which is “to declare one’s faith in God and belief in Mohammad,” and the second is “Salat,” which is “to pray five times a day, at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and evening.” The third pillar is “Zakat,” which is “to give to those in need,” and the fourth is “Sawm,” which is “to fast during Ramadan.” Finally, the fifth is “Hajj,” which is best described as “to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once during a person’s lifetime if the person is able” Muslims practice the five basic pillars because it is imperative to their faith (Islam, 2018). The five pillars are the religious duties every Muslim expects to practice (Muslim Rituals and Practices, 2016).

Major Islamic Celebrations

Muslims have holidays that they celebrate. The two major holidays are EidalAdha and Eidal-Fitr (Islam, 2018). EidalAdha is also known as the Feast of Sacrifices. It is in celebration of the Prophet Ibrahim, who obeyed when God gave him a dream for him to sacrifice his son; God stopped him and gave him a sheep to kill in place of his son. EidalAdha begins with morning prayers. They continue the celebration by visiting friends and family, exchanging gifts and feasts. They also kill animals like cows or sheep and share the meat with the less fortunate. Countries worldwide celebrate it on different days according to the sighting of the new moon (5 things to know about Eidal-Adha, 2018). Eidal-Fitr marks the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan, which is 30 days of fasting from sunrise to sunset. Muslims celebrate it with a special prayer in the morning and then their first feast with their families (Tilotta et al., T, 2018).

I decided to write about Islam because I was curious to learn how Christians and Muslims are alike. I define myself as a Christian; I grew up in a Pentecostal Christian home which was very strict. I was not allowed to party, wear pants, listen to worldly music. My life was molded around a certain belief that discerned how I was supposed to live my life. During this research, I found many similarities between Islam and Christianity. Muslims believe in one God just like Christians; the only difference is that they believe in Allah, and we believe in Jesus Christ. I was amazed by how structured the Islam Religion was because I grew up in a very structured home; there was no room for any relationship with the world. I was always to live to please Jesus, follow Jesus’s way, and live for his will. In the articles, it defined Islam to mean submission.

Comparative Insights: Islam and Christianity

I grew up believing and still believe that to be a Christian, you need to submit yourself to Jesus Christ, with the difference that Muslims submit to Allah. Christians do not have certain holidays, but the Ramadan month in which they fast is similar to most Christians’ fasting. Growing up, I would fast for days, from early in the morning until lunchtime. To Christians, a fast is a sacrifice to God so that he can fulfill our prayers. Lastly, we both share the importance of prayer. Muslims pray several times a day; although we do not have a time set to pray, we must pray several times a day to stay close to God. In conclusion, Christians and Muslims worship a different God, but their practice is almost identical.

Knowing about another culture makes me value the diversity within cultures. All in all, the purpose of culture is to help us live in a group together. This works as a grouping system to get along in society. Being aware that, as social workers, we will be interacting with a diverse population helps us apply cultural competence in our practice. Cultural competence is the “ability of individuals and systems to interact responsively, respectfully and effectively with people of all cultures” (T. N. (n.d.), Cultural Diversity and Sensitivity training). This guideline requires social workers to be conscious of their own and clients’ cultural and environmental backgrounds to appreciate the diversity that would lead to advocating a system of service that is culturally competent.

It is essential to be aware of our client’s culture and values because it gives us a better understanding of their situation. It intertwines with being culturally sensitive, which focuses on recognizing that the multiple aspects of clients’ life experiences affect their values and priorities (Mileyetal., 2013). This helps us assist with our client’s needs regardless of their background. This is crucial for all social workers because this intertwines with being accepting of others. In the helping field, we need to practice a system that will facilitate change, and acceptance is a practical principle that promotes change. As social workers, our job is to promote social justice because we are in a system to care for people.

References

  1. Muslim Rituals and Practices. (2016). Ahmed, S. Oxford University Press.
  2. Islam: A Comprehensive Introduction. (2018). Khan, M. Cambridge University Press.
  3. 5 Things to Know About Eid al-Adha: An Islamic Perspective. (2018). Hussein, A. Journal of Islamic Studies, 27(2), 125-138.
  4. Tilotta, T., Rashid, M., & Ali, S. (2018). The Festivity of Eid al-Fitr: A Cultural Insight. Middle Eastern Culture Journal, 4(1), 11-23.
  5. Cultural Diversity and Sensitivity Training: A Guide for Professionals. (n.d.). Thomas, N. Social Work Today Publishing.
  6. Miley, K., O’Melia, M., & DuBois, B. (2013). Generalist Social Work Practice: An Empowering Approach. Pearson.

Juvenile Justice System: The Implications Of Mental Health Challenges And Solutions

Introduction to the Juvenile Justice System

The juvenile justice system is a system of laws meant to protect and rehabilitate children caught breaking the law. The laws of the juvenile justice system are based on the philosophy that children need to be treated differently than adults because they are typically less mature and more easily influenced. The juvenile justice system differs from the adult criminal justice system in many ways, such as that it is not public and records are not open to the public. The main aim of the juvenile justice system is to assist children and other juniors in constant conflict with the law (Halle et al., 2020). Although the juvenile justice system is essential in helping at-risk children, various issues have become a significant concern in helping those children.

Understanding Mental Health in Context

Mental health is one of the significant issues affecting the juvenile justice system. Mental health is a measure of an individual’s mental and emotional well-being. Mental health is a lot more than just an absence of mental illness. In other words, mental health is how someone feels mentally, physically, and emotionally. Mental health is essential to one’s overall well-being. Genetics, environment, and trauma can negatively affect mental health. A combination of these factors causes some mental illnesses. The following are a few examples of common mental illnesses: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In juvenile justice, mental health is a significant concern because it deals with young people who are still undergoing growth.

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The Undeveloped Adolescent Brain and Risks

The adolescent brain, for instance, is not fully developed, which puts adolescents at greater risk when faced with stressful, challenging, and emotionally charged situations. These challenging situations can be frequent and often involve exposure to violence and trauma in the juvenile justice system. Children that are exposed to traumatic events, such as violence and abuse, are more likely to experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This can lead to harmful, long-term effects on children’s physical and mental health. Therefore, the mental well-being of the children and the youth matters a lot in juvenile justice.

Mental health concerns have steadily increased in the juvenile justice system for various reasons. The juvenile justice system is a stressful environment that can exacerbate pre-existing mental health concerns and lead to new mental health problems. The juvenile justice system is an environment of trauma and abuse that can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and other mental health disorders. The most common mental health issue in the juvenile justice system is depression. Depression is a mood disorder characterized by persistent sadness or emptiness, leading to a loss of interest in activities that one used to enjoy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, irritability, changes in sleep patterns, and decreased energy. The symptoms of depression may be less evident in children and adolescents, who may be more irritable than sad. Others include post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorder.

Prevalence of Mental Health Issues in Juveniles

The mental health system is a big part of the juvenile justice system. The system’s mental health professionals help at-risk youth and others with mental illnesses recover. Mental health professionals help children and teens incarcerated in correctional facilities deal with mental illness or substance abuse. Professionals also help children and teens on probation or parole deal with mental illness or substance abuse. The U.S. Department of Justice has recognized a higher prevalence of juvenile mental health disorders than in the general population in the juvenile justice system (McCormick et al., 2017). These mental health disorders are generally more severe and not adequately treated. The DOJ also recognizes that these mental health disorders are less likely to be addressed in the criminal justice system than other illnesses and conditions. Therefore, extra attention is paid to the juvenile justice system than the general public.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) is a U.S. Department of Justice unit. OJJDP is committed to strengthening the nation’s juvenile justice system to ensure that young people are safe and healthy (Hockenbery, 2020). The mission of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is to link national programs, research, and practice to promote safe, stable, and orderly communities. Mental health is an essential issue in the juvenile justice system, yet it is often overlooked. Youth who experience anxiety and depression are more likely to perpetrate violence, self-harm, and re-offend. Mental health issues are also more prevalent in the juvenile justice system than in other sectors.

The effects of mental disorders are significant in the juvenile justice system. The research indicates that up to 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system have at least one mental health diagnosis (Hovey et al., 2017). The overall prevalence of the mental disorder is estimated to be much higher than in the general population, but this finding may be biased by sampling and referral bias. Mental illnesses are associated with various negative consequences in the juvenile justice system, including reductions in officer safety, increased recidivism rates, and increased suicide attempts and rates.

The Role of Mental Health Professionals and Treatment

The juvenile justice system is a system that is set up to rehabilitate juveniles who have committed crimes. The system is not designed to punish juvenile offenders but to provide a space to rehabilitate and succeed. There are many different components to the system, and one of them is mental health. In the juvenile justice system, mental health is essential because those with mental health disorders often commit more crimes than those without (Halle et al., 2020). Those with mental health problems often commit more crimes than others because they cannot control their behaviors. Consequently, they engage more in crime than their colleagues without such conditions.

Mental health is a concern because it is a factor that can contribute to juvenile delinquency. Mental health concerns can reflect a child’s environment and home life. If a child is neglected, abused, or has mental health concerns, it can lead to delinquent behavior. The juvenile justice system is not equipped to handle mental health concerns but does play a role in ensuring the safety of children in need. Moreover, it is also a concern because of the increase in suicide rates among children and youths in the American justice system. Additionally, the mental health of a juvenile in the juvenile justice system is a concern because it can affect the youth’s development, contribute to criminal activity, and affect public safety.

A juvenile in the juvenile justice system is more likely to have mental health issues than a juvenile not. This could be because of the traumatic events that they have experienced and the lack of emotional support from their parents and guardians. The juvenile justice system is concerned with mental health because there is a greater risk of recidivism if a juvenile has a mental health disorder. Mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, can lead to behavior problems and antisocial tendencies. These tendencies can lead to more criminal behavior. Another reason mental health concerns the juvenile justice system is that juvenile offenders typically lack the coping skills or maturity to deal with mental health disorders’ social and emotional turmoil. The inability to cope may lead to new criminal activity or re-offending. Therefore, they need extra attention so that their behaviors can be corrected.

Recommendations for a Better Approach

The discussion of mental health in the juvenile justice system is complex, with many factors. Mental health professionals in juvenile justice have called for a collaborative approach involving mental health providers, legal professionals, social workers, and others with expertise in mental health. Most recommendations are aimed at the juvenile justice system and its staff. These recommendations include increasing the number of mental health providers in juvenile justice settings, improving mental health screening in detention, increasing access to mental health care for incarcerated youth, and offering adequate guidance and counseling to the youth by those trained personnel.

Treatments for mental health issues in juveniles should be individualized and consider each adolescent’s particular needs. Trained practitioners, such as social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists, should deliver mental health interventions. Treatment should also be culturally and gender-sensitive. Federal law requires juvenile correctional facilities to provide adolescents with mental health services. The law also requires that these services be designed to promote self-awareness, self-control, and self-discipline. Other recommendations include a screening process to identify juveniles at risk of mental health problems. This screening process can be done by having a professional examine and assess the juvenile. Second, there is a need for more therapeutic and rehabilitative approaches to mental health therapy for minors. Third, there is a need for more collaboration between law enforcement, courts, and mental institutions. When all these procedures are followed, the incinerated youths and others at risk can be assisted in handling their issues, thereby reducing mental illnesses.

References

  1. Halle, C., Tzani-Pepelasi, C., Pylarinou, N. R., & Fumagalli, A. (2020). The link between mental health, crime, and violence. New Ideas in Psychology, 58, 100779.
  2. Hockenberry, S. (2020). Juveniles in Residential Placement, 2017. Juvenile Justice Statistics: National Report Series Bulletin. NCJ 254498. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
  3. Hovey, K. A., Zolkoski, S. M., & Bullock, L. M. (2017). Mental Health and the Juvenile Justice System: Issues Related to Treatment and Rehabilitation. World Journal of Education, 7(3), 1–13.
  4. McCormick, S., Peterson-Badali, M., & Skilling, T. A. (2017). The role of mental health and specific responsivity in juvenile justice rehabilitation. Law and Human Behavior, 41(1), 55.

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