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Reading the Quran at a Catholic Hospital
This article is an excerpt from my blog project to read the Quran in hopes to connect with my Muslim ministrants at the hospital in a more full and empathetic way. Look at adventwithislam.posterous.com.
Blog post from January 6, 2012: In my service as hospital chaplain, one of our daily responsibilities is to read a reflection, prayer, or scripture over the intercom system that broadcasts throughout the entire building. This is to comfort patients and staff members as they endure the daily ups and downs of life in the hospital. Here I write about my experience of reading the first Surah of the Quran over the loudspeaker.
I guess I was just feeling interfaithy today (I like that phrase, feeling interfaithy ... maybe there's a book or blog title in there somewhere). And I was thinking about the Muslim patients and doctors and nurses and other staff who have listened to countless Judeo-Christian prayers read day after day by the spiritual care department including myself. I had written that I will read Muslim prayer/scripture over the intercom system in an earlier blog post, but I hadn't gotten up the courage until tonight. I was worried about what the Christians would think, after all this is a Catholic hospital. I was worried about getting complaints, even being reprimanded by my supervisor. Then I realized that I was letting the fear of an Islamaphobic or anti-anything-other-than-Christian reponse stop me from doing my job, from living into my call as a chaplain of everyone in this hospital. I have as much of a responsibility to the non-Christians as to the Christians as a member of the Spiritual Care Department of this Catholic hospital. While this hospital does have Roman Catholic roots, and all the chaplains are Christian, we need to minister to those that are different: Jews, Atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, etc.
So I went up to the microphone with the Quran in my hand, shaking a little bit as I thought about what I was about to do (partly shaking due to the risk I was taking, partly shaking due to thinking how this might impact a Muslim patient as I read it). So I read the Al-Fatiha, which is the first Surah of the Quran. It is recited many times daily by Muslims during their daily prayers. It was a powerful experience, so much so, that the phone operator, who was listening beside me yelled out, "WOW!"
I'm not sure if she knew it was from the Quran or not. She may have just been inspired by the words. But her "WOW" summed up the experience for me and confirmed the importance of including everyone in the hospital setting. If we just make that effort to reach out to those that may often be forgotten, to give a voice to the voiceless, or in this case give a prayer to the prayerless, our ministry and effectiveness is broadened and enriched. Maybe, next time, I will ask a Muslim employee to pray over the intercom to offer a more authentic prayer experience for the patients. And I'd love to hear other suggestions as well.