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II&M successfully attended the ISNA convention and had engaging discussions from the 1st to the 4th of September.
Announcing Final Cohort: 'Introduction to the Field of Islamic Bioethics' Course Starts in September! Enjoy 50% off using the 'BIOETHICS50' Code.

National Survey of Muslim Physician Attitudes towards Religion and Medicine

Project Overview

This project provided insight into the lives of American Muslim physicians as they negotiate their identity as Muslims with their identity as medical professionals within a multicultural and pluralistic society. The project was funded by the University of Chicago’s Program on Medicine and Religion Faculty Scholars Program through the John Templeton Foundation. The project focused on the ways Islam influences American Muslim physicians’ medical practices and informs their professional identities. Additionally, we explored American Muslim physicians’ experiences with religion-based workplace discrimination. Alongside the empirical inquiry, we engaged with the philosophical and ethical traditions of Islam as they relate to conceptions of healing and the moral formation of physicians.

Project Aims

The project aimed to:
  1. Describe the influence of Islamic religiosity on physicians’ practice patterns.

  2. Assess the incidence and predictors of religion-directed workplace discrimination experienced by American Muslim physicians.

  3. Assess the relationships between religiosity and ethical decision making among American Muslim physicians.

Project Significance

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks the more than 7 million Muslims in the United States became subject to suspicion, discrimination, and abuse. Hate crimes against American Muslims rose dramatically following the attacks and continue to occur more frequently than in the pre-9/11 era, while anti-Muslim sentiment permeates the sociopolitical discourse. As American Muslims encountered discrimination based on their religious affiliation, they were confronted with questions of identity and belonging: What does it mean to be a Muslim in America? How should this identity be manifested in the public sphere and in professional life? By examining the experiences of Muslim physicians in the context of post-9/11 discrimination, this study provided a unique window into the challenges physicians from minority religious communities might face as they seek to live out a faith-informed professional identity.

Muslim Physicians Believe Islam Influences their Medical Practice

Many Muslim physicians believe their medical practices are influenced by Islam. American Muslim physicians’ shared Islamic faith may lead them toward similar approaches to medicine. Studies suggest religious physicians derive their professional values and modulate their medical practices based in part on their religious views. Thus national surveys find that physician religious characteristics predict physicians’ attitudes and practices in an array of clinical domains. While American Muslim physicians are under-investigated, previous findings from our work demonstrate that Islamic values influence Muslim physicians’ medical practices by:
  • Motivating them to live out virtuous character traits in the patient-doctor relationship
  • Setting the ethico-legal boundaries of their practices

Muslim Physicians in the U.S. Healthcare Workforce

American Muslims are a sizeable and diverse minority in the US physician workforce. Estimates put the number of American Muslim physicians at nearly 50,000 persons, or 5% of the physician workforce, while more than 10% of US Muslims self-report as physicians or dentists. These physicians are racially and ethnically diverse—made up primarily of immigrants from South Asia and the Middle East, as well as indigenous African Americans.


Number of participants that were surveyed (N= 255)

  • 70% of participants were of South Asian descent 

  • 22% of participants were of Arab descent 

  • 4% of participants were of White/Caucasian descent

  • 2% of participants were of Black/African American descent

Report on Healthcare Discrimination
  • 24 % of American Muslim physicians have reported discrimination at work because of their religion

  • 9% of American Muslim physicians have reported their patients refused their care because of their religious identity 

Media Highlights

Poster Presentations

The objective was to explore Muslim physician characters inform their perceptions of the need to medically intervene in ethically complex clinical circumstances involving Muslim patients and performing procedure that are arguably prohibited by islam.

Given findings from previous studies which have found an association between physicians’ personal characteristics (e.g. religiosity, sense of calling) and certain practices of community engagement (e.g. caring for the underserved), we assessed whether measures of Muslim religiosity and sense of calling predicted various practices of community engagement.

In Collaboration with:

Supported by:

Data Repository Information

Access the survey questions, datasets, and data use agreements for this project.


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Mufti Nazim Khutbah

Padela Khutbah

Shkifah Khutbah

Intervention Study

Qualitative Study and Interviews

Fifty Muslim multiethnicity women (40 years old and above) were interviewed (6 focused group) and 19 in individual interviews. We found religious beliefs did informed mammography intention, which includes (1) the perceived religious duty to care for one’s health, (2) religious practices as methods of disease prevention, (3) fatalistic notions about health, and (4) comfort with gender concordant health care.

Quantitative Study and survey

240, 40 years of age or older, were surveyed (72 respondents were Arab, 71 South Asian, 59 African American, and 38 from another ethnicity). We found that positive religious coping and perceived religious discrimination in health settings significantly (negatively) affected mammogram adherence among Muslim women in Chicago.

American Cancer Society mammogram recommendations

Mammogram recommendation for women at average risk or breast cancer

  • Women between 40 and 44 have a choice to have a mammography every year.
  • Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
  • Women 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms.

3R model

Reframing “switch train tracks”
  • Keep the barriers belief intact but change the way one thinks about it so it is consonant with the desired health behavior
  • Normalizes the barrier belief
Reprioritize: “show them a better train”
  • Introduce a new belief and create higher valence for it than the barrier belief
  • Normalization of the barrier belief is optional
Reform: “breakdown the train carriage”
  • Negate the barrier belief by demonstrating its faults by appealing to authority structures

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