The basic role of the Muslim chaplain is to be available and present with Muslim patients and their family members to provide religious support as needed.
The spiritual care services of the Muslim chaplain are holistic and concerned with the whole person and include religious, social, emotional, and physical well being.
Muslim chaplains seek to build a relationship of trust through compassionate presence. For example, a chaplain might focus on the emotional or spiritual adjustment to illness or on the search for meaning and purpose through difficult times. Help in crisis situations, including family/relational issues as well as bereavement care, are regular areas of chaplaincy involvement.
A Muslim chaplain works collectively and collaboratively alongside other health care professionals to provide psycho-social-spiritual services for patients and their families. Chaplains receive regular patient referrals from the interdisciplinary team such as physicians, nurses or social workers and contribute to patients overall care through regular involvement and liaison with members of the team.
The Muslim chaplain’s specialty is the relation between faith, illness, and the emotional and mental conflicts that might arise. A chaplain seeks to motivate and initiate meaningful use of each individual’s beliefs and attitudes in the management of their difficulties. Therefore, the chaplain’s role is supportive, serving as a counselor and guide to the psycho-spiritual needs of the patients, and the staff.
The involvement with hospital staff adds another dimension to the chaplain’s responsibility. Whenever call on, the Muslim chaplain advocates the interests of the Muslim patient. For example, a Muslim chaplain might be called to join the Ethics Committee at the hospital to offer an Islamic perspective on the delivery and/or withholding of treatment to a terminally-ill patient.
Key areas of focus
- Developing an Islamic theology of support, guidance, nurture and encouragement
- Providing information on Islam and access to resources and rituals
- Assisting patients to cope with the psychological, social and spiritual aspects of their illnesses and difficulties arising from them
- Helping identify spiritual / religious strengths and concerns
- Offering counselling services related to death, guilt, and forgiveness
- Acting as a facilitator between patients and hospital staff, or family and patient, or family and staff, as required
- Serving as a religious resource for the patient
- Serving as a representative of the Muslim community within the institution
- Encouraging patients to express their feelings and explore the impact of their illness on patients or their beliefs.
- Working with family and friends for their own healing and support of their loved one
- Exploring spiritual resources for rehabilitation, healing and growth
- Working with staff to support Muslim patients
- Providing spiritual support to the staff of the hospital
- Establishing training workshops to help understand the needs of Muslim patients
- Facilitating groups of staff for team building and debriefing
- Participating in case conferences regarding patients and/or problem areas
- Helping other professionals identify and attend to their own needs and issues, by providing staff support and valuing their particular contribution
- Serving as an intermediary or resource person in some of the complex situations of healthcare
- Serving as a resource for those addressing the complex ethical issues involved in making healthcare decisions
Islamic Center/Mosque and Community
- Assisting the local community to develop a volunteer base to support spiritual care services
- Developing a support system where Muslim patients will recieve support after discharge
- Organizing workshops on the needs of Muslim patients
- Coordinating the religious activities such as prayers and celebrations to be held at the hospital
- Facilitating the involvement of religious leaders as resources in the hospital
- Coordinating the distribution of religious materials within the hospital
Religious Support / Pastoral Services
- Creating and maintaining Islamic Spiritual Care Services in healthcare facilities
- Conducting research to evaluate the effectiveness of the services in regards to the needs of the patients
- Maintaining appropriate professional relationships with the hospital administration
- Strengthening relations with leaders of other faiths