Demographers say Islam is the world’s second-largest faith, with more than 1.8 billion adherents worldwide. It is the fastest-growing religion in the United States, with one of the most diverse and dynamic communities, representing a variety of ethnic backgrounds, languages, and nationalities. Muslims are adding a new factor to the increasingly diverse character of patients in the healthcare system. The information in this booklet is designed to assist healthcare providers in developing policies and procedures to deliver culturally competent patient care and serve as a guide for the accommodation of religiously mandated practices of Muslim patients. It is intended as a general outline of religious practices and beliefs; individual applications of these observances may vary.

Research has demonstrated that minority patient populations face significant challenges when trying to access and receive healthcare and a lower quality of care when they do. Among racial and ethnic groups, health disparities persist due to the confluence of structural, institutional, and interpersonal factors. Overcoming these barriers and disparities requires that the beliefs, priorities, and health care needs of minority communities be understood and accommodated. Health disparities among religious minorities merit consideration, as religious values are influential in an individual’s and group’s development and articulation of the concept of health.

Increasing cultural competence has been cited as part of the solution to reduce health disparities; however, Muslim Patient Cultural Guides are predominantly based on provider experiences as opposed to empirical research conducted in collaboration with the community. Given the different conceptions of health and healing, cultural modifications and healthcare accommodations may be integral to providing the highest quality of care. Prior research demonstrates that many hospitalized Muslim patients seek to maintain their religious practices: observance of modest dress, fasting during Ramadan, adhering to dietary restrictions, and partaking in the prescribed daily prayers are just a few examples.