Mission Possible: A Muslim Hospital Can Be Established
In the June 6, 2008 issue of the Muslim Link, an article was published titled “Muslim Doctors Abundant But Muslim Hospitals Non-Existent”. Being a Muslim physician with 25 years of experience, I have some ideas on how Muslim doctors can serve this ummah and make a Muslim hospital a reality.
THE FIRST STEP
The first step would be to find out how many committed Muslim physicians are in America. If you are only a physician, driven solely by the aim of generating income and establishing yourself professionally, it will not happen. However, if you are a physician committed to serving your Lord and the community at large, then this is the time for us to come together in thinking how to make our lives meaningful in the service of this deen with our professions.
Deen apart from every day life is not true deen. Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) was the best example of it. He was a complete model and he proved it by establishing a living, working community in Medina.
WHO IS GOING TO DO IT?
Doctors could be classified as:
Physicians who are Committed to the Muslim Community
i. Senior Physicians: . They have many years of experience, are done raising families, and are close to retirement.
ii. Physicians in the Middle of their Careers Life They are in the middle of their careers, tied up by previous financial commitments (ie: office and equipment leases, etc).
iii. New Physicians Coming out: New comers from Medical Schools, in their first two years of practice.
Non Committed Muslim Physicians (self committed)
EVERYBODY’S STAKE ON THE MATTER
Those under group “A” would clearly be the ones interested in achieving such high goal for the Ummah in this country.
The Senior Physicians responsibility would be to make a group of Muslim Physicians and start a corporation or a group practice. This group would be core in initiating the establishment of a Muslim hospital since they have the knowledge, experience and have achieved settlement, as well as they no longer carry the heavier load of the responsibility of raising families.
The middle group could be the managed care referral physicians. They could benefit the communities while continuing their regular practices by receiving for example five patients for free who do not have insurances. They could report those patients for tax purposes. They could also refer patients to the community based medical practice (incorporated business). These physicians could gradually work towards transitioning into the corporation, and freeing themselves from the previously established commitments such as office and equipment leases.
The new physicians could join the Company with a complete package of salary, vacation time, CME, insurance … at market match value.
SALAH AND ZAKAT GO TOGETHER
Salah is the pillar of our ibada, worship. But our entire lives should be a form of ibada: in what and how we practice. Thus the same principle of ‘establishing’ can be applied to any ventures we may embark in our lives: our family life, our professions.
Since there is no salah without zakat (no establishing action without purifying such action with gratitude and humbleness); a fund could be created by the corporation with 0.5 percent of all physicians’ zakat money. This fund would be intended to support those community members financially incapable to pay for medical services. Part of such fund could also be used to give scholarships to top students so they can attend medical school in exchange upon graduation of committing to work as either full time employees or interns for the group practice/corporation or the hospital for a number of years. The benefits and ramifications of a fund of this type could be endless.
HOW TO DO IT?
Having a fully run Muslim Physicians corporation, the practice would already have, from the start, a group of patients to come in right away from the Islamic communities. Their insurance money would come to be recycled into the Muslim practice, which would as well strengthen the local communities. The corporation as well as the hospital would serve both Muslims and non Muslim patients.
Different specialties should join in. The more Muslim doctors come into the hospital, the more patients, the more Muslim practices coming to be established around. The more the presence of Muslim patients, the more Muslim nurses and personnel may be employed.
The doctors from this practice, affiliated with the local hospital would increase the number of Muslim doctors in that hospital, as well as patients. The stronger the Muslim presence in the hospital, the need and facilitation would come by default to make Muslim friendly accommodations. By being a Private entity the Hospital could set its own preferences such as : Proper privacy for women, women/men sections, athan at salah time, halal food would be available in the cafeteria, the hospital could have its own small musallah for prayers. A Muslim Chaplain could be hired.
WHERE WOULD THE MONEY COME FROM?
A Muslim hospital does not have to be built. We do not need to spend money building a hospital. Hospitals are nothing but businesses. If you have a large number of doctors who are Muslims, you can be part of the Board of Directors. We could also have more and more Muslims to be share holders in the hospital corporations.
By buying more and more shares of the existing corporation and by more and more of our physicians becoming part of the board of the hospital, in a matter of ten years we could end up taking over already existing hospitals insha’Allah.
THE BENEFITS OF HAVING A MUSLIM HOSPITAL
By establishing hospitals we are guarantying the continuity of the Muslim patients care. We would be financially self-sustained and profitable. We would be private, thus capable to make our own choices and decisions. Through the mercy of zakat we would be able to facilitate services to those in need in a multitude of areas and specialties. We would be strengthening the bonds within our communities and with the non-Muslims in the field and patients. We could become by our mere existence as Muslim Physicians a source of dawah by simply applying the manners, professionalism and care that our religion teaches us.
We could gradually establish research initiatives and integrate much needed natural methods of prevention and healing as established by the sunnah of our Prophet (peace be upon him) together with the Western style of Medicine which is mainstream today.
By establishing a hospital, we would be fulfilling a very important principle: Do not take help from others to establish yourself, but establish yourself to serve others.
We just have to rely on Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala and read our history. We need to follow the Prophet’s example on how to establish ourselves and serve others.
It seems difficult only because our mission in life is not understood well. We are not relying on Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala). We are not following our prophet’s way of establishing things. We are more spiritual but not practical and we underestimate our capabilities.
It may be far fetched, but this is only seed for thought. If anyone thinks deeply about it, we’ll see that to establish deen we do not need finances, we need tawaqul in Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala and then unity. We need eman not wealth, Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala has already given us wealth. The early Muslim generations were not looking for wealth but they were giving it away desperately to build something.
We want lo leave this dunnia to go towards something we have build in our akhirah. We do not want to leave to an akhirah we have destroyed because we have being too busy with this dunnia. As physicians, wouldn’t it be wonderful to leave behind a project or at least the seeds to it that could benefit immensely both our Muslim community as well as the entire American community at large?
–The author is the director of the Dar-us-Salaam Family Medical Practice located in Greenbelt, Maryland.