There are many ways to go to heaven. One of them is by helping another human when their need is great. Medical care in the United States is expensive and access is limited for people who do not have health insurance or a steady income. Around the country, many Muslims have been opening medical clinics for underprivileged people. The Muslim community in Burlington, NC recently opened a medical clinic inside of the Burlington Masjid. The three sisters who founded the Al Aqsa Community Clinic in February of 2009 in Greensboro were at the opening ceremony. The clinic began with two doctors, a nurse, a pharmacist and a box of medicine. Today they have a staff of volunteers that includes 31 doctors, three pharmacists, five nurses and over 200 volunteers who come from Muslim and non-Muslim backgrounds. The idea for a clinic began when local refugees could not qualify for insurance or medical coverage such as Medicaid. The clinic operated in Greensboro for 8 years until they outgrew their location.
The grand opening of the new Burlington location was February 25, 2017. Members of the local community from all backgrounds attended the ceremony. Local churches have been very supportive of the Masjid and the medical clinic. Representatives from multiple churches visited the Burlington Masjid during Ramadan and Masjid events, such as the grand opening of the clinic. The volunteers who run the clinic include people of all faiths and cultural backgrounds. The clinic helps people during a difficult time in their life by providing medical care, including access to specialists. It also provides a great opportunity for dawah (helping non-Muslims learn about Islam).
According to a recent poll, 80% of non-Muslim Americans have never met a Muslim in real life. Their only experience with Islam is based on what they see on the news and read online. This sets a very high standard for American Muslims. We represent everyone in our religion. Each person we meet on a daily basis might be meeting a Muslim for the first time, and they will remember a lot about their interactions with us. The Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings upon him) taught us that the best among the Muslims is the one with the best manners, character and conduct (behavior). That includes being kind to people and sharing with those who are in need. Taking care of our neighbors is Sunnah. Sharing with our community and helping those in need are parts of our religious duties. Providing medical care to the local community, for the people in need, is a great way to live in Sunnah in our daily lives. The laws vary in each state. If you want to open a clinic in your area, find a doctor who wants to give back to the community and then do some research and find the requirements for paperwork. A large number of American Muslims are doctors, so inshallah (God willing) you will find some in your community who are ready for this type of project. May Allah (swt) bless your efforts, our country and give us all a path to heaven.
Shylon M. Smith, MA
** Shylon came to Islam when she was 21 while studying medical anthropology. She is originally from Alabama but grew up all over because her father was in the military.