A Guide on Muslim Patients

A guide intended to assist health care professionals and chaplains in providing culturally and religiously appropriate care to Muslim patients.

The Muslim Volunteers Group
Stanford Hospital
Stanford, California

The purpose of this Guide is to help health care professionals & chaplains enhance the compassionate care they provide their Muslim patients by expanding their services to include the patient’s cultural and religious background.

General Guidelines

1- In being culturally competent, health care providers:

a. Understand and appreciate cultural differences between groups. This does not mean embracing or advocating for the patient’s culture, but rather honoring and respecting it.

b. Are aware of their own cultural values and beliefs in an effort to avoid imposing their own views of health and decision-making on patients.

2- Islamic law maintains that saving a single life is comparable to saving all of humanity. Necessity overrules prohibitions. In all emergency cases, doing what is crucial to save the patient is the guiding standard.

3- There is no single strategy for dealing with Muslim patients. Muslims differ by virtue of the inherent diversity that exists among Muslims, which is influenced by their national origin, culture, upbringing, education, economics, etc. Muslims also differ in their adherence to Islamic teachings and the place of religion in their lives.

4- Allow the patient and/or their family to guide you on their religious & cultural needs and expectations of staff. When in doubt about a particular practice and its impact on your ability to provide quality care for the patient, please seek explanations from the patient and/or the family.

5- Do your best to explain to the patient & family what you, as a health care provider, think is required or recommended for the patient’s well- being and for abiding by hospital protocols and mandates.

It is appropriate to assess the how assimilated the patient and family members are in the dominant culture, e.g. whether they are 1st or 2nd generation Americans vs. 3rd or 4th.

[Excerpt from “A Guide on Muslim Patients.” The Muslim Volunteers Group at the Spiritual Care Service. Stanford University. Click here to read a June 2010 article from Stanford Hospital’s Spiritual Care Notes about the formation of the Muslim Volunteers Group.]