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Caregiving to Muslims: A Guide for Chaplains, Counselors, Healthcare and Social Workers

Dr. Muhammad Hatim, Imam Warith Deen Muhammad Professor of African American Muslim Studies

Dr. Muhammad Hatim, Imam Warith Deen Muhammad Professor of African American Muslim Studies

MUHAMMAD HATIM, PH.D, D.MIN., is a respected religious leader, human rights activist, educator, lecturer, and counselor. He retired as an Imam with the Admiral Family Circle Islamic Community (Admiral Family) in New York City after 18 years. He was a longtime student of Shaykh Dr. Abdullah Latif Ali. He directed the Admiral Family Justice Ministry (prisons/courts). As the Admiral Family’s Non-Governmental /United Nations (NGO/UN) Representative, he participated in the United Nations religious and human rights activities both here in the US as well as Geneva, Switzerland. Dr. Hatim volunteered as a Red Cross Disaster Chaplain after the World Trade Center tragedy in NYC. He is the Imam Warith Deen Muhammad Professor of African American Muslim Studies at the Graduate Theological Foundation in Indiana; Board Certified Clinical Chaplain (BCCC) and Pastoral Counselor (BCPC) by College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapists (CPSP); and both a Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor (CADC) and Certified Co-Occurring Disorder Professional (CODP) in New Jersey.


Following is a description, written by the author, of his newest publication.

Caregiving to Muslims:  A Guide for Chaplains, Counselors, Healthcare and Social Workers

The main purpose of this book is to offer suggestions for Islamic compassionate care to individual healthcare workers and administrators in related institutions. These professionals may include clinical chaplains, medical personal, counselors, social workers and others. The information may be useful for discussions and in developing training modules in the area of cultural competency. Teaching hospitals, schools of social sciences, and clinical pastoral educators are primary targets of this work. Nevertheless, caregiving information herein may be universally useful.

The book offers strategies and tactics for caregiving services with information and tools for addressing the well-being and spiritual needs of Muslim  clients. There are already a number of books and documents in the literature that attempt to address some of these needs. Some of these discuss the basic pillars of Al-Islam. Others offer various considerations and approaches to counseling Muslims. My approach to caregiving and its relationship to Muslims is rooted in the teachings of Al-Islam; i.e. the Al-Qur’an and the ahadith (recorded traditions of the Prophet Muhammad [pbuh]). The end product is a reference that can be used to explore spiritual resources, interventions, outcomes, and measurements for addressing Muslim psycho-social-spiritual needs.

The country is reeling from the very divisive 2016 Presidential election. During the election, President Donald J. Trump proposed controversial policies concerning Muslim immigration to the US. He suggested the need for increased government surveillance of Muslim individuals and communities. He made references to a possible national registration of Muslims. These proposed policies have the potential to negatively affect the wellness of American Muslim communities. The African American Muslims, American citizens who are the descendants of formerly enslaved forced immigrants, as well as law abiding recent immigrants, now face an unsure and problematic future. The uncertainty of the strategies for implementing such policies can lead to psycho-social-spiritual challenges for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. As clinicians and caregivers, we may be especially impacted in our work in the near future.

The layout and development of the chapters provides the reader with a roadmap to caregiving services for Muslims. Chapter 1: Fundamentals of Al-Islam provides a synopsis and brief definition of basic principles of Al-Islam.  It discusses faith, belief, and the pillars that support religious praxis. Chapter 2: Basis of Holistic Pastoral Care for Muslims explores the philosophical and social challenges that Muslims face in their quest for spiritual wellness. Chapter 3: Al-Islam. Muslims, and the American Health Care Professionals addresses specific challenges to the diverse ethnic populations that comprise the Muslim community in America. It explores internal conflicts among various groups. It underscores certain attitudes about the meaning of assimilation. Chapter 4: Culture/Tradition of the Muslim Family facilitates an in-depth analysis of discussion on various traditional family values as well as the nature and objective of the Muslim society. It addresses issues related to the Muslim GLBTQ individuals. Chapter 5: Identifying the Spiritual Roots of Terrorism address psycho-social-spiritual phenomena that contribute to fear, political mischief, the need to belong, and issues of fairness and justice. Chapter 6:  Al-Islam and Clinical Analysis focuses on the fundamentals of spiritual care, relevant selected psychological and counseling theories, and possible challenges to delivery of care/services. Chapter 7: The Caregiver and Muslim Spiritual Assessment offers a suggestion for spiritual assessment applicable to Muslims, as well as 5 summarized brief case studies.

The Muslim Community in the United States is not monolithic. Therefore, realistically, there can be no one-stop-shopping for strategies. One can find Muslims from every part of the world here in the US. Therefore, it is incumbent on each practitioner to do his/her homework on the ethnicity and cultural traditions of his/her charges. The effectiveness of this reference book only can be limited by the knowledge and skills of the one using it. I therefore encourage the user to be open-minded, and willing to see the world, for the moment, through the lens of the Muslims in need of care.  I encourage the user to be as competent in his/her discipline as possible; and, rely upon his/her best professional instincts and training.

I offer techniques which will allow the professional (inshallah) to assess the spiritual well-being of the Muslim. They will permit the clinician to journey with him/her as a witness (as-shahid) to improved spiritual health. The clinical assessment criteria in the case studies are founded primarily upon the ideas of Paul Pruyser (1976).



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