Dr. Aneesah Nadir: “Prevention” is Her Middle Name
By Halima Touré
Her husband says “Prevention” is her middle name. For Dr. Aneesah Nadir, it represents a guiding light for MANA’s Healthy Marriage Initiative. She believes that, along with a strong support system after the wedding, some serious marital problems can be prevented through marriage preparation and counseling before the nikkah. For almost half of her 30 years in the social work profession, Dr. Nadir has been involved in premarital counseling and addressing family and marital problems: practicing them and preparing others to do so. She’s also been involved in programs to prevent teen pregnancy, substance abuse, and family violence.
Born in Queens, New York and raised in Queens and Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Nadir embraced Islam during her college years and was among the founding members of Masjid at-Taqwa in Brooklyn under MANA’s Amir, Imam Siraj Wahhaj.
An educator since 1994, Dr. Nadir received her bachelor of science degree in social welfare from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York and earned her master’s and doctorate in social work from Arizona State University. She is currently an assistant professor at the College of Human Services’ Department of Social Work at Arizona State University West Campus in Glendale. Among the core social work courses she taught was Ethnic and Cultural Variables, and courses in social work practice that concentrate on individuals and families and on groups and communities, and courses on skills and techniques in human services. She also developed the first and perhaps the only course preparing social work students to work with Muslims: The Muslim Reality: Living in America.
When asked in an interview why she entered the field of social work, one of Dr. Nadir’s responses was “…I think that it’s something that Allah has called me to because it seems to be a really natural fit for me.” Her professional experience includes work as the Family Advocacy Outreach Program Manager at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona where she was responsible for the coordination of family maltreatment prevention programs for military personnel and their families. During her four years there, she provided parenting education for paraprofessionals, school personnel and US Air Force supervisors. She has also engaged in coalition development and prevention work in the area of HIV/AIDS. In her time as a prevention training specialist for The Community Organization for Drug Abuse, Mental Health and Alcohol (CODAMA) Services in Phoenix, she provided prevention services and inservice training as well as education for professionals, teachers and youth leadership regarding behavioral health and substance abuse issues.
Throughout her career, Dr. Nadir has contributed her extensive professional expertise to the development and enrichment of the Muslim community in the United States. In 1995 she helped to establish Al-Mu’minah, the Young Muslim Women’s Association, and continues to serve as an advisor. Over 400 women and girls attend its annual reception to honor the scholarly achievements of Muslim women graduates. From 1996 to 2002 she wrote a monthly column on marriage, family and youth issues for the Arizona Muslim Voice newspaper in Phoenix.
As a regular guest on Soundvision’s web-based Radio Islam talk show, she discussed social service issues facing Muslims. She also maintained a private practice in individual, marriage and family counseling until 1996, when she entered ASU’s doctoral program. However, she still found time to serve as volunteer Social Services Director for the Arizona Muslim Family Health and Social Services from 1996 to 1999, with responsibilities for premarital counseling, family life skills education, group counseling and coordination of social services. She is a founder and current president of the Islamic Social Services Association in the United States (ISSA-USA), which was established in 1999 to promote awareness about social welfare and mental health concerns among Muslims in America.
Dr. Nadir has presented at numerous conferences across the United States, in Canada, and in Spain on topics such as “Preparation for Social Work Practice with Muslims Living in North America,” “Social Issues Facing Muslims in North America,” “Working with African American Muslims: Considerations for Chaplains,” “African American Muslim Families,” and “Premarital Counseling and Marriage Preparation as Means to Prevent Domestic Violence.”
Her writings on Muslims and social welfare, Muslim marriage, and the need for organized Islamic social services have been widely published in books and scholarly journals.
In addition to ISSA-USA and other organizations, she is a member of the Muslim Social Work Educators’ Group of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the organization which accredits schools and departments of social work. She is one of a small group of social work educators in United States colleges and universities who have helped to develop the first symposium to convey social work research and presentations about Muslims in America to their colleagues.
Her peers and others have recognized Dr. Nadir’s outstanding work in the field of social welfare by honoring her with special awards: Social Worker of the Month, from the Arizona Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers; the Globe Award, from the Social Work Student Organization of Arizona State University at the West Campus; and the Lifetime Achievement-Excellence in Achievement Award, presented to her by the Association of Muslim Women in America.
Dr Nadir is part of a growing voice of advocates for strengthening the marriage bonds among Muslims in the United States. ISSA-USA continues to address this issue with the development of the Sakinah Healthy Marriage Initiative. Dr. Nadir’s position as Project Director for MANA’s Healthy Marriage Initiative signals the collaboration between the two organizations to realize similar goals.
Dr. Nadir has said: “Being married is one of the most important things we’ll do….Most of us aren’t really prepared to be …a husband or a wife and eventually a parent. But Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) have placed before us guidelines, lessons and teachings that will help us to be well-prepared….In a youthful marriage or an older marriage, many…problems are preventable.” She is eager, with the help of Allah and the Healthy Marriage Initiative’s team, to spread this guidance for the good of the Muslims in America.
Dr. Nadir and her husband Karim Nadir, an entrepreneur and banking employee (whom she describes as her strongest supporter), are the parents of four children, ages 18 to 29.