SAN BERNARDINO – Giving a shining example of the teachings of Islam and compassion towards the sick, Muslim doctors at Al-Shifa Clinic in San Bernardino have been offering help to the city’s underprivileged residents over the past 17 years.
“We are Muslims and we want to help the community,” Dr. Talat Khan, director of Al-Shifa Clinic, told Voice of America on Wednesday.
“It does not have to be the Muslim community because most of the people we see are Hispanic and people of other faiths. We want to help them out. Our religion tells us that we should take care of under-served,” Khan added.
Founded in 2000, the clinic, whose name means “cure” in Arabic, has been offering a much-needed help in one the poorest cities in California.
The free service is provided by a team of dedicated Muslim physicians and volunteers, most of who came to the US as refugees or immigrants.
“To tell you the truth, doctors are trained to help people regardless of their religion or what language they speak,” Dr. Khwaja Ali Sidiqui, a physician who volunteers at the clinic, said.
“When you visit a doctor, you are his [or] her patient. We treat our patients regardless of what faith they belong to,” he added.
The 16 examination rooms of Al-Shifa Clinic hum with activity as treatment extends to internal medicine, pediatrics, mental health, neurology, obstetrics-gynecology, preventive medicine, and dentistry.
The volunteer doctors help new medical graduates who work as interns at the clinic.
“I also enjoy talking to the patients because a lot of them who come here, they are desperate for help because most of them do not have insurance,” said Eman Musili, a newly arrived immigrant from Syria.
“Actually, they have a lot of things going on and they need help. So that is a good experience for a medical physician.”
The patients praised the clinic’s work as a miracle.
“It is amazing,” said patient Lynne Missi, praising the doctors and volunteers who offer their services free.
“They are really, really nice people to do that. I think ‘Wow! Who would do that?'”
Al-Shifa is not the only place where Muslim doctors provide free medical help for poor Americans.
In January 2012, a group of Muslim doctors volunteered to open the Rahma Health Clinic to provide free medical services for poor residents in Syracuse, New York.
Earlier in 2011, a free clinic was established by the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America to provide dental, ophthalmologic, pediatric and pain-management services on Sundays at the Bilal Mosque on St. Louis University’s campus.
Another clinic was opened by the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis, in partnership with Volunteers in Medicine in October.