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Materials for Muslim Prayer and Study

Prepared by Ahmed Nezar Kobeisy, Ph.D., Director and Imam at the Islamic Center of the Capital District (ICCD), New York; Muslim Chaplain at Syracuse University; Editor of the Faith Based Practice section in the Journal of Muslim Mental Health; and Adjunct Faculty at Syracuse University, Le Moyne College, SUNY at Oswego and Hartford Seminary. IN THIS GUIDE About This Issue ............................................1 About These Materials ....................................2 Action Steps..................................................2 Who Should Use These Materials?....................3 Group Discussion Resources ..............................4 Suggested Activities ....................................4 An Islamic Perspective..................................8 Sermon Resources ....................................10 BULLETIN INSERTS/FLIERS Bulletin Insert/Flier Instructions Bulletin Insert/Flier 1 The Faith Community: Called to Care, Calling for Care Bulletin Insert/Flier 2 The Muslim Community: Called to Care, Calling for Care Bulletin Insert/Flier 3 Faces of the Uninsured: Dr. Syed M. Ahmed

About This Issue


There are 46 million Americans without health care coverage, including more than 9 million children. Many uninsured Americans work hard, but still cant afford health insurance. In fact, more than eight out of 10 of them are in working families. Too many Americans are living without coverage forced to gamble every day that they wont get sick or injured. Going without insurance means that minor illnesses can become major ones if health care is delayed. The time to help the 46 million uninsured Americans is now. Each year, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation organizes Cover the Uninsured Week, the largest campaign in history to address the issue of the uninsured in America. The Weeks broad network of faith leaders, congregants, business owners, union members, educators, students, patients, physicians, nurses and many others are planning activities to continue to press for coverage for all uninsured Americans. Activities will include faith-based activities, press conferences, community forums, enrollment events, seminars for small businesses, educational events on campus and more. Now is the time to get involved. We hope you will use these materials during Cover the Uninsured Week and throughout the year. For more information about this issue and Cover the Uninsured Week, visit www.CoverTheUninsured.org/issue.

Prepared by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with the cooperation of the Cover the Uninsured Week National Interfaith Advisory Board. For more information about this issue and additional interfaith materials, please visit www.CoverTheUninsured.org.

About These Materials


These materials, which include action steps, sermon resources and bulletin inserts, are intended for use in prayer, sermons, and study. The goal of these materials is to stimulate discussion and reflection on the growing problem of the 46 million Americans without health care coverage and on the teachings of our faith about how we are to respond to this growing problem. They offer ideas for additional action steps you can take to help get America covered. Additional materials for faith communities about the issue of health care coverage and how faith communities can help are available at www.CoverTheUninsured.org/faith.

Action Steps
Your faith community can participate in helping those in need and learning more about the issue of the uninsured. Work with the appropriate people or committees in your mosque or group to discuss ways of taking action, such as:

Organizing a study group discussion Saying a prayer for the uninsured Preaching a sermon (a khutbah) or other address on the moral imperative to respond to the
plight of the uninsured

Studying the faith basis in your tradition for responding to the uninsured Signing the Call to Care (go to www.CoverTheUninsured.org/faith for a copy) and
distributing it at events, such as prayer breakfasts

Engaging the religious and secular media to inform your community about the problem and
ways to help

Reaching out to help those without health insurance within your own faith community Planning and participating in health and enrollment events Distributing materials at health and enrollment events Volunteering at a health and enrollment fair Informing parents that they can find out if their uninsured children are eligible for low-cost or
free health care coverage by calling toll free 1(877) KIDS-NOW Visit www.CoverTheUninsured.org to find out more about what you can do to get involved.

ACTION STEPS 2

Who Should Use These Materials?


ISLAMIC CENTERS AND MOSQUES Office of the Imam Board of directors Social action committee Public relations committee Womens group Adult forum Youth group Interfaith committee General assembly meetings ISLAMIC SOCIAL SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS Board of directors Administrators Social workers, counselors, therapists and volunteers Refugee committee or department Clients ISLAMIC COMMUNITY CENTERS Board of directors Public action committee Social action committee Members COLLEGE AND COMMUNITY MUSLIM CHAPLAINS NATIONAL ISLAMIC ORGANIZATIONS Office of the president Office of the secretary general Social committee Refugee committee Public relations committee Conventions committee
WHO SHOULD USE THESE MATERIALS?

MUSLIM STUDENTS ASSOCIATIONS

Group Discussion Resources


Suggested Activities
For all activities, the Imam, group leader or presenter may wish to use the following introduction, which can be most helpful in introducing the topic to participants: Today, 46 million Americans have no health insurance, including more than 9 million children. More than eight out of 10 uninsured Americans are in working families. Being uninsured means going without needed care. It means minor illnesses become major ones because care is delayed. It means one significant medical expense can wipe out a familys life savings. The problem is getting worse. As costs go up, fewer individuals and families have insurance, and fewer businesses can afford to offer insurance to their employees. It is a problem that affects all of us. Its time to take meaningful steps toward solutions. We can help. Our community, along with other mosques, churches, synagogues and other places of worship across the nation, will commit to care for those who are living without health coverage. Together, we can help uninsured Americans get the health care coverage they need and deserve. In our meeting today, we will attempt to learn more about the uninsured and consider how we can respond to this problem according to our faith.

Friday Sermon The Imam can read and utilize information that is provided in An Islamic Perspective on the
Plight of Americans Without Health Care Coverage on page 8.

The Imam can use his knowledge of the Quran, Sunnah, Islamic principles, jurisprudence and
history to provide the legal and moral foundation for activism on behalf of and support for people who are uninsured.

In addition to these materials, the Imam can use information on


www.CoverTheUninsured.org to provide facts and statistics on the plight of the uninsured.

The Imam can request that the community help people who are uninsured through prayers,
moral and financial support, and advocacy in the community at large.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES 4

Religious Study Circles The group leader (e.g., teacher, Imam, educator or presenter) can use the above-mentioned
steps.

The group leader can start by informing the audience of the purpose of the activity, then recite
passages from the Quran and ahadith from the Sunnah that mandate and encourage justice, mercy and excellent treatment of others.

The group leader can emphasize the Islamic obligation found in the Sunnah of amending the
wrong by hand, tongue or at least by heart.

The group leader can provide some facts and statistics about the plight of the uninsured. The group leader can invite some members of the community who are uninsured to inform the
attendees of their experience and the difficulties that have resulted from their lack of health insurance. If the leader does not know any uninsured members, they can visit www.CoverTheUninsured.org/stories for personal testimonials that will help to illustrate the severity of the issue. The group leader can ask members to take action. These actions can be approached in stages:
N N

Develop awareness of the problem Increase knowledge of the facts about the uninsured population and the consequences for society at large Invite members to act by suggesting appropriate actions, such as raising awareness among coworkers, neighbors, friends and relatives; and appealing to medical doctors, pharmacists and other medical professionals from the Muslim community to help by treating uninsured people without charge until they are provided with health insurance

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES 5

Dialogue Circles (with members of the community, other faith groups, or others)
MATERIALS NEEDED:

One copy of these materials for the leader One copy per participant of selected Cover the Uninsured Week fact sheets (handouts
available at www.CoverTheUninsured.org/factsheets)

One copy per participant of Action Steps for the Faith Community (handout available at
www.CoverTheUninsured.org/faith)

One copy of the Islamic textual quotes and principles Flip chart paper and markers
PREPARING FOR AND FACILITATING THE DIALOGUE CIRCLES: Before the Dialogue Circle: Review the activity plan.

Gather and prepare the needed materials. Make one copy per participant of the handouts (see Materials Needed above). Divide the sheets into the following sections: Information, Case Studies, Community Care and
Just Actions. As people contribute information and ideas, you may want to write them down in the appropriate section. During the Dialogue Circle: Provide information about people who are uninsured. For ideas, visit www.CoverTheUninsured.org/issue.

Invite participants to reflect upon their faiths teachings of care, support and justice. Invite participants to illustrate real-life cases that reflect the dilemma of people who are
uninsured.

Brainstorm with participants about how the faith community can care for and support the
uninsured.

Review with participants the suggested action items and brainstorm for more suggestions. Invite participants to make the commitment to follow up on actions and report their progress
to the group in subsequent meetings or via e-mail.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES 6

Weekend Open House Prepare information packages for distribution to visitors and prepare refreshments. Announce the event to Muslims and the general public through various media (e.g., the
religious section of the newspaper, community events announcements on the local radio and TV stations, announcements during Friday prayer, bulletin announcements posted to websites and through any local interfaith organizations).

Conduct short information sessions of no more than 15 minutes for visitors. Invite visitors to register their name, address and comments about the issue. Inform visitors of the suggested actions and invite them to visit
www.CoverTheUninsured.org to take action.

Request that visitors keep this issue at heart, inform others and encourage actions. Download and make copies of your states Guide to Finding Health Insurance
Coverage to handout to individuals who do not have health coverage. These state-specific guides can be found at www.CoverTheUninsured.org/stateguides.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES 7

An Islamic Perspective on the Plight of Americans Without Health Care Coverage


By Ahmed Nezar Kobeisy, Ph.D., Director and Imam at the Islamic Center of the Capital District, New York; Muslim Chaplain at Syracuse University; Editor of the Faith Based Practice section of the Journal of Muslim Mental Health; and Adjunct Faculty at Syracuse University, Le Moyne College, SUNY at Oswego and Hartford Seminary.

To understand the Islamic perspective on the issue of the uninsured, I must begin by stating the basic foundations of Islam. According to Quranic stipulations, Islam is based upon and is aimed at the establishment of justice and mercy. Justice is the core value not only for Islam but also for all previous messages of God according to Quran. The holy Quran states:

This translates to: We sent aforetime our apostles with clear signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right and Wrong), that they may stand forth in justice. (57:25). Justice means that all people are treated equally and that the value of a human beings health and life is not determined by the level of their wealth or status. Justice also requires that health care and services necessary for ones well-being and survival are not offered on the basis of how much the person has or what the person can afford. It is an Islamic duty, as a step in the pursuit of justice, to raise the awareness of the growing problem of the uninsured and seek to bring about a change in our health care system and public policy so that Americans are provided with the health care coverage needed to live healthier and lead better lives; this would be of benefit to themselves and to us all. In order for justice to be achieved, it is the obligation of conscientious individuals and groups to be the voice of the voiceless, to help the helpless and advocate for those who do not have the means or the access to advocate for themselves. According to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007, poverty and lack of health insurance are interconnected and inexplicably linked. In 2007, 13.2 million or 18 percent of children under the age of 18 lived in poverty. The poverty rate for children under 18 remained higher than the rates of 18- to 64-year-olds and seniors aged 65 and over (10.9 percent and 9.7 percent respectively). The number of those living in poverty and rate of poverty in 2006 was 36.4 million and 12.3 percent. As for health insurance in particular, an estimated 15.3 percent of the population, or 46 million people in the United States of America, were without health insurance coverage in the year 2006.
AN ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE 8

More than eight out of 10 uninsured Americans are in working families. This means that millions of Americans face each day without the security of knowing that, if and when they need it, medical care is available to them and their families. Having no health coverage also means that people will often postpone necessary care, suffer pain and forego preventive caresuch as childhood immunizations and routine checkups. Because the uninsured usually have no regular doctor and limited access to prescription medications, they are more likely to be hospitalized for health conditions that could have been avoided. Delayed health care or the lack of it can result in problems that devastate the lives of individuals and families. These problems, whether they be expensive treatments, terminal illness or loss of productivity, ultimately become the liability of all of us. Allowing millions of people to live without health coverage means gambling that they wont get sick or injured. Another basic principle and objective of Islam is mercy. The holy Quran describes the mission of Islams Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) as mercy to all creatures and not only to humans. The Quran states:

This translates to: We sent thee (O Muhammad) not, but as a mercy for all creatures. (21:107) Our beloved prophet (p.b.u.h.) states what translates to: The one who does not show mercy, will not be shown mercy, and Show mercy to those who are on the earth, you will be shown mercy by the one who is above the Heavens. Although there are many ways to show mercy to Allahs creatures, including feeding, clothing and sheltering, providing health care is one of the most important. Without attempting to provide health care coverage to the uninsured, mercy will be either superficial or lacking. Islam commands Ihsan (kindness and excellence) as a virtue to characterize each and every action in our lives. Ihsan can include loving for others what a person loves for themselves or even giving others preference over ones own self. Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) states what translates to: None of you shall attain to full faith until he/she loves for his/her brother or sister what he/she loves for him/herself. He also states: He/She who loves to be moved away from hell and admitted to Paradise, must not die until he/she is in a state of faith in Allah and the Last Day and must do unto other people what he/she loves others do unto him/her.

AN ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE 9

The Quran states:

This means: Allah truly enjoins justice and Ihsan (kind and excellent treatment). Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) states: The creatures of Allah (i.e., humans) most beloved to Allah are those who show kind and excellent treatment to His children. It is hard to imagine a person who claims to be just, merciful and kind who, after becoming aware of the injustice, humiliation and suffering of millions who live without health coverage, does not work to change such conditions and alleviate such sufferings. The steps to change this injustice are to become aware yourself, spread awareness among friends and colleagues, and advocate to public officials and representatives for the cause of providing adequate health coverage to all. Health care and treatment must be afforded to every citizen with dignity and respect. If we do not, we will pay a much heftier price in the form of expensive treatment, reduced productivity and the loss of lives, while at the same time losing our dignity, self-respect and the respect of all other civilized and uncivilized nations.

Sermon Resources
From the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.):

Use verses that assert the honor and dignity that Allah assigned to the human race: equality among all people, the essential nature of justice and standing for justice, the obligation to cooperate with everyoneMuslim or non-Muslimon issues of justice and mutual good, the mercy of Islam, and the kind treatment Muslims are required to give to the vulnerable and weak. Some illustrations are included on the next page. Muslim leaders are encouraged to utilize the abundant sources in the Quran and Prophetic tradition to support the activities related to this program. THE NOBILITY AND HONOR BESTOWED ON HUMAN BEINGS:

SERMON RESOURCES

We have honored the children of Adam; provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favors, above a great part of Our creation. (17:70)

10

JUSTICE:

O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to justice, and let not the hatred of others to you make swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do. (5:8) THE ISLAMIC OBLIGATION TO SUPPORT JUST CAUSES REGARDLESS OF RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION:

Allah forbids you not, with regards to those who fight you not for (your) faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just. (60:8) THE MERCY OF ISLAM AND KIND TREATMENT REQUIRED:

Allah truly enjoins justice and Ihsan (kind and excellent treatment). Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) states that which means: The creatures of Allah (i.e., humans) are the children (i.e., liability and responsibility) of Allah and the most beloved to Allah are those who show kind and excellent treatment to His children.

SERMON RESOURCES 11

FACT SHEET:

Americans Living without Health Insurance


Recent Census Bureau data demonstrate that the problem of the uninsured continues to worsen. According to the most recent figures, 46 million people15.3 percent of the U.S. populationwere uninsured in 2007. 1 NEARLY 12 PERCENT OF UNINSURED AMERICANS9.2 MILLION INDIVIDUALSARE CHILDREN. 2 Until six years ago, Julia and Angelos family was covered under an employer-based health insurance policy. This coverage ended when Angelo became disabled and lost his job as a truck driver. The family sought emergency care after their insurance expired, resulting in large bills that they are still trying to pay today. The couple assumed that their family was not eligible for public assistance because Julia received income from her job as a nanny. Then a school counselor became concerned about the behavioral problems of one of the familys four children. Fortunately, as a result, a caseworker became involved and told Julia and Angelo about the State Childrens Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and helped them apply. The three youngest children are now covered through SCHIP, although the 21-year-old child and the couple remain without insurance. (Note: Parents and other caretakers can find out if their children are eligible for low-cost or free health care coverage by calling toll-free 1(877) KIDS-NOW. The call is confidential and Spanish-language assistance is available.) MORE THAN EIGHT OUT OF 10 UNINSURED AMERICANS ARE IN WORKING UNINSURED FAMILIES. 3 Becky and her husband have paid for health insurance their entire adults lives. Now, at ages 57 and 50, for the first time they cannot afford health insurance. As the owners of a small business, they can no longer afford to offer health coverage to their employees either. Although their employees have worked with them for a decade or longer, the couple fears losing them to larger employers who do offer health coverage. Becky and her husband are not poor and are not sick, but they fear losing everything they have worked for their entire lives. The thought makes them sick at heart. AN ESTIMATED 18,00022,000 AMERICANS DIE EACH YEAR BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE HEALTH COVERAGE, ACCORDING TO STUDIES CONDUCTED BY THE NONPARTISAN INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE AND THE URBAN INSTITUTE. 4 Rose was laid off from her job in September and cannot afford the expensive COBRA premiums, which would extend the insurance she had when she was employed. As a survivor of breast and cervical cancers, premiums for individual private market insurance are unaffordable. Although at risk for a recurrence of her cancers, she has been unable to afford even a basic checkup with the doctors that she saw for her original treatment. Instead, she lives in fear for her health.

THERE ARE ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES TO BEING UNINSURED. Mary and her husband are working people who are uninsured. Employed as a certified nurses assistant for a small, family-run assisted-living facility, Mary is offered health coverage through her job. However, she would have to pay the full cost of insurance out of her own pocket and cannot afford to do so. She makes only $8 an hour and works overtime just to make ends meet. Her husbands employer also offers insurance, but at the unaffordable price of $200-400 a month. Mary fears the cost of just one major illness or accident could wipe out her familys bank account. SOURCES:
1. Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007. U.S. Census Bureau, August 2008, figure 6, p. 20. (www.census.gov/prod/2008pubs/p60-235.pdf). 2. Compiled by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), University of Minnesota School of Public Health, using data from the U.S. Census Bureaus Current Population Survey 2007. 3. Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. (October 2008). The Uninsured: A Primer, Key Facts About Americans Without Health Insurance. 4. Final Report Release Event Insuring Americas Health: Principles and Recommendations. Institute of Medicine, January 14, 2004. (www.iom.edu/event.asp?id=16675) and Dorn, S. Uninsured and Dying Because of It: Updating the Institute of Medicine Analysis on the Impact of Uninsurance on Mortality. Urban Institute, 2008. (www.urban.org/publications/411588.html)

Bulletin Insert/Flier Instructions


The following three bulletin inserts/fliers can be photocopied, tailored, distributed and used for mosque bulletins. INSERT/FLIER 1 THE FAITH COMMUNITY: CALLED TO CARE, CALLING FOR CARE This bulletin insert/flier, appropriate for all faiths, can be used to acknowledge your communitys commitment to caring for those who are uninsured and in need. INSERT/FLIER 2 THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY: CALLED TO CARE, CALLING FOR CARE The second bulletin insert, tailored for the Muslim faith, is designed to be distributed during a period of time when your faith community has planned activities around the issue of the uninsured. INSERT/FLIER 3 FACES OF THE UNINSURED: DR. SYED M. AHMED This insert/flier shares the words of a health care professional addressing the struggles of people living without health insurance. You may wish to photocopy this story and distribute it in conjunction with the other fliers. This story may also be incorporated into a sermon or other address.

* These bulletin inserts/fliers can be used in a variety of ways in your congregation and faith community, such as an insert in your worship bulletin or handout in your study group to raise awareness about the issue. Simply print and copy for a two-page or back-to-back flier. Or, click on the select text button in the PDF, highlight the text you wish to copy, and paste this text into any other document or bulletin-format you may be using in your faith community.

THE FAITH COMMUNITY:

Called to Care, Calling for Care


Central to religious teaching is the conviction that God is the source of life. The God who created us calls us to seek the health, well-being and whole of the good creation. The religious community has long been both an advocate for and provider of care and comfort for people in need. We have been concerned with the wholeness and well-being of peopletheir minds, bodies and spirits. Our care and concern has been broad and deep: praying for the sick and dying, visiting those who are hospitalized or home-bound, founding hospitals, and speaking out for health care for all. Today, the needs of our nations 46 million people without health care coverage require a new and deeper level of concern, care and commitment to assuring that all have the health care they need to live and grow as God intends.

A Call to All to Care for All


Being uninsured means going without care when it is needed. It means minor illnesses become major ones because care is delayed. It means one significant medical expense can wipe out a familys life savings. Being uninsured is not just a problem for people who are unemployed. In fact, more than eight out of 10 uninsured individuals are in working families. Either their jobs do not provide health coverage or they cannot afford their share of the premiums. These are people who cannot afford private health insurance on their own and are not eligible for public programs. Those lacking health care coverage live anxious lives even when in good health, always fearing illness in the family. Chances are, as we gather today to pray, in our midst sits an adult who cant see a doctor because he doesnt have insurance. Chances are, in our midst is a child without health insurance and her worried parents, who fear an injury, who wonder about the dangers of untreated illnesses, who regret the checkups and preventive care she is missing out on, who panic at the prospect of financial devastation should illness or injury strike. Chances are, you know someone who does not have health care coverage. Now is the time for Americans from every walk of life to come together to call for care for everyone. It is time to cover the uninsured so that all might live the lives for which they were created.

What can you do to help people who are uninsured?


1. What you can do. Go to www.CoverTheUninsured.org to find steps you can take to make a difference. 2. Pray for the uninsured. Unite as a community to ensure all Americans gain health care coverage, allowing the gift of health to prosper. 3. Explore this issue in your congregation. Hold study groups, interfaith prayer breakfasts or vigils for the uninsured. Download resources and materials for your use in study and prayer available at www.CoverTheUninsured.org/faith.

We are called to care and cover the uninsured. Will you answer?
COVER THE UNINSURED WEEK NATIONAL INTERFAITH ADVISORY BOARD

Rev. Eileen W. Lindner, National Council of Churches


Chairperson, National Interfaith Advisory Board

Major Ronald Foreman, Salvation Army, National Social Services Secretary Ms. Kathleen A. Curran, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism Rabbi Steve Gutow, Executive Director, Jewish Council for Public Affairs Dr. Richard Land, Southern Baptist Convention, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Bishop E. Earl McCloud, Jr., Ecumenical Officer, African Methodist Episcopal Church Ms. Garland Pohl, National Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers Dr. Mary Ruth Stone, Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, Islamic Society of North America Bishop Melvin Talbert, United Methodist Church

*Organizations listed for identification purposes only.

Prepared by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with the cooperation of the Cover the Uninsured Week National Interfaith Advisory Board. For more information about the issue and additional interfaith materials, please visit www.CoverTheUninsured.org.

THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY:

Called to Care, Calling for Care


Islam calls its followers to practice compassion and justice, to act out of concern for the needy. The needs of the 46 million Americans without health care coverage are surely a cause to which we who are Muslim must respond. I encourage every Muslim and masjid to focus attention on the needs of people without health care coverage and to urge solutions to the problem.
Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, General Secretary, Islamic Society of North America and member of the Cover the Uninsured Week National Interfaith Advisory Board

Today, 46 million Americans lack health care coverage. Syed, Sameena and their children are just four of them. Syed is employed as a security guard. His wife Sameena works part time at a local drug store when she is not caring for their two small children. Neither is offered health coverage through their employer, nor are they eligible for public assistance. Not long ago, Syed began to experience chest pains. A trip to the hospital emergency room resulted in a bill of more than $2,000. The debt has been devastating for this young family striving to make ends meet. The needs of millions of uninsured Americans like Syed and Sameena present a serious challenge to us today. We are called upon by our faith to correct this injustice. We must respond both on the individual and community levels. As Muslims, we are morally obliged to come to the aid of the families that are deprived of health coverage, and we have, at the same time, to work toward reforming the system so that health coverage is extended to all those who require it. Only then can we be true to our faith and our humanity.
Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and giving to kith and kin, and He forbids all indecent deeds, and evil and rebellion; He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition. (S. 16, A. 90)

Called to Care, Calling for Care


Being uninsured means going without care when it is needed. It means minor illnesses become major ones because care is delayed. It means one significant medical expense can wipe out a familys life savings. Being uninsured is not just a problem for people who are unemployed. In fact, eight out of 10 uninsured individuals are in working families. Either their jobs do not provide health coverage or they cannot afford their share of the premiums. These are people who cannot afford private health insurance on their own and are not eligible for public programs. Chances are, as we gather today to pray, in our midst sits an adult who cant see a doctor because he doesnt have insurance. Chances are, in our midst is a child without health insurance and her worried parents, who fear an injury, who wonder about the dangers of untreated illnesses, who regret the checkups and preventive care she is missing out on, who panic at the prospect of financial devastation should illness or injury strike. Chances are, you know someone who does not have health care coverage.

A Common Concern and Commitment


The religious community has a vital role to play in addressing the issue of the uninsured. Our sacred texts and teachings remind us of Gods intention for the health and wholeness of Gods beloved people. Our traditions have long expressed concern for peoples health in mind, body and spirit. Through prayers and visits, our concern for the sick and needy has been made visible. Religious hospitals have offered care directly to those in need. Today, the religious community joins with other segments of our society in expressions of concern for those who are sick or injured and cannot see a doctor; for those who are healthy but live with the stress and worry of what they will do if illness does strike; for those who face financial peril without health care coverage and face costs they cannot afford to get the care they, or their children, need. The community of faith is called to care for the weak and vulnerable, the sick and suffering, and those in greatest need. And so the religious community calls for care as an opportunity to join with others in common concern and commitment.

What can we do to help people who are uninsured?


1. What you can do. Go to www.CoverTheUninsured.org to find steps you can take to make a difference. 2. Pray for the uninsured. Unite as a community to ensure all Americans gain health care coverage, allowing the gift of health to prosper. 3. Explore this issue in your congregation. Hold study groups, interfaith prayer breakfasts or vigils for the uninsured. Download resources and materials for your use in study and prayer available at www.CoverTheUninsured.org/faith.

We are called to care and cover the uninsured. Will you answer?
Prepared by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with the cooperation of the Cover the Uninsured Week National Interfaith Advisory Board. For more information about the issue and additional interfaith materials, please visit www.CoverTheUninsured.org.

FACES OF THE UNINSURED:

Syed M. Ahmed MD, DrPH


DIRECTOR, REACH OUT, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, OHIO; VICE CHAIRMAN FOR RESEARCH, DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY MEDICINE, AND DIRECTOR, ALLIANCE FOR RESEARCH IN COMMUNITY HEALTH, WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
One night about 19 years ago, I was in a car accident not far from my apartment in Houston. I remember lying in the street, my head bleeding, listening to the sirens of the ambulance rushing to the scene. And the only thing I could think was, How am I going to pay this hospital bill? I was new to the United States. I had earned my medical degree in my native Bangladesh, and I came here to work on a doctorate degree in public health. As a graduate student, I was barely scraping by, and there was no way I could afford health insurance. So when the rescue workers arrived within minutes of the accident, I literally begged them not to take me to the hospital. I was pretty sure my injuries were minor and I figured, with my medical training, I could patch myself up pretty well. Anything would be better than facing a huge emergency room bill that I couldnt pay. The rescue workers, of course, refused my pleas and rushed me to the hospital. As it turned out, my injuries were minor. And, ultimately, my hospital costs were covered by the auto insurance of the man who caused the car accident. But I didnt know that until later. And I will never forget that feeling of complete helplessness and panic, knowing I had absolutely no means to pay for my medical care. Ive thought of that night often in the last six years, ever since I started volunteering as director of Reach Out of Montgomery County, Ohio. Reach Out brings together a network of volunteer physicians, nurses and others to provide free health care to people who dont have health insurance. We run clinics two nights a week for a total of about 40 patient visits each week. Nearly all of our patients are working poor who are not offered health coverage through their jobs. Or, if they are offered insurance, they dont make enough to afford the premiums. These are hard-working people, just like any other Americans. Many work in service industries or for small businesses. Theyre waitresses, lab technicians, school teachers. Theyre working to take care of their families, theyre struggling to get by, and they do not have health coverage. Now Ive heard some people say: They can always go to the emergency room at the public hospital if they have to. Well, yes I suppose that is technically true. If someone breaks a bone or is having a heart attack, those are emergencies and theyll go to the ER. But I know from my own experience all those years ago and from talking to my patients: most working people without insurance see the ER as the last resort.

From the patients perspective, they will not go until they absolutely have to. From a wider economic perspective, it costs the health system millions of dollars every year to pay for uninsured people who wind up in the ER. And from a doctors perspective, the ER is not the place to attend to chronic diseases, which are by far the most common illnesses in this country. Every day in the clinics, I see patients who put off getting care for a long time because they cant afford it. We diagnose many, many cases of chronic conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes. Many patients didnt know they had the condition because they hadnt been to a doctor in so long. Then there are the patients like the woman I saw recently. On her first visit, I diagnosed her with high blood pressure and wrote a prescription for her. When she returned for her follow-up several months later, her blood pressure was even higher. It turns out she had not taken a single pill. She could not afford to pay for the prescription, so she didnt fill it. We scraped and scrambled to find a way to get her the medication because we know if we dont treat her now, its almost guaranteed well be treating her for more serious complications in the future. We are the richest country in the world and we have a brilliant, technically advanced health care system. But if it doesnt reach all of our citizens, what good does it do? Everyone in this country should have health insurance and access to affordable health care. I remember that feeling of helplessness when I needed treatment and I knew I couldnt pay for it. It breaks my heart to see my patients struggling with those feelings every week at our clinics. As a family doctor, I know ignoring an illness never cures one. And I know ignoring the uninsured issue will never cure the problem.
Prepared by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with the cooperation of the Cover the Uninsured Week National Interfaith Advisory Board. For more information about the issue and additional interfaith materials, please visit www.CoverTheUninsured.org.