How do I manage my Muslim faith in a generic chaplaincy role?


By Shaykh Mohammed Roziur Rahman (posted March 2019)


In previous roles as a community Imam and a Muslim chaplain for universities, I always served Muslims in a specific Muslim-oriented role. Currently, as a generic mental healthcare chaplain in the NHS who happens to be of a Muslim background, I serve both Muslims and non-Muslim patients and staff.


Having to serve people in a generic chaplaincy role raised many questions, thoughts and a need for development in the management of my faith. For example, how would I serve a non-Muslim patient in terms of prayer or participate in a religious service that was different to my own? What theological and practical sources were there in Islam to accommodate my role as a generic chaplain? Even working within a multi-faith team brought about many thoughts related to inter-faith relations and religious identity.


With these thoughts in mind, I began to search both historic and modern Islamic scripture for information and practice related to generic pastoral care. To my amazement, I found there was a great deal written on this topic and that it was never something considered extraordinary. I used what I found to my benefit when addressing key issues related to inter-faith relations, praying and supporting people of other faiths and none when offering generic spiritual care.


In Islam, saving the life of a human in any context, whether it be reviving their way of thinking or preventing death, is considered the ultimate goal of care that overrides Islamic rules on prohibitions. For example, if a female patient wants to meet me in a room to talk about personal matters, then that would be permitted for the sake of spiritual revival, despite the strict gender interaction laws in Islam. Similarly, attending a Christian service or taking part in music therapy would be permitted, despite there being debate amongst Muslim scholars on whether music and attending non-Muslim services are permitted or not.


The current revival of Muslim thought and its adaptation to care settings is an interesting and recommended area of discovery. My work as a generic chaplain has helped me to grow and develop as a Muslim in terms of flexibility and adaptability within my faith, spirituality and religious orientation. Engaging with my colleagues of other faiths has taught me much about different practices, as too has interacting with my colleagues of a non-faith background regarding various forms of spirituality. This has helped expand my outlook on Muslim chaplaincy.


Muslim chaplaincy has grown over the years and has been instrumental in bridging gaps between Muslim and non-Muslim ideas, thought and engagement. The ongoing developments in Muslim thought on matters related to engaging with ‘others’ will help ensure better services in the field of healthcare chaplaincy and pastoral care for both Muslims and non-Muslims.


Mohammed Roziur Rahman is a Healthcare Chaplain for the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust



Past Articles


Medical Ethics from an Islamic Perspective - Part 2

By Shaykh Mohammed Roziur Rahman (posted May 2017)


Medical Ethics from an Islamic Perspective - Part 1

By Shaykh Mohammed Roziur Rahman (posted January 2017)


Islam and Feminine Spirituality

By Roszeen Afsar (posted June 2015)


From Makkah to Newcastle

By Abdurrahman Smith (posted November 2014)


The Status of Women in Islam

By Roszeen Afsar (posted March 2014)


The Sun That Never Set

By Shaykh Mohammed Roziur Rahman (posted January 2014)


The Month of Muharram

By Shaykh Mohammed Roziur Rahman (posted November 2013)