Muslim doctors live their faith

Muslim doctors live their faith 
September 2, 2000


It isn't such a long way, really, from the wretched poverty afflicting
Bihar, India, where Dr. Hamid Hai was born, to the hospital corridors

The Burr Ridge cardiologist's Islamic faith bridged that distance when 
responded to a patient at Northwestern Hospital whose HMO failed to pay
for his heart medicine.

Hai said he would provide it at no cost.

"I said, `My brother, I am not a doctor to earn as much as I can. I am
here to help people. Please come and see me. The price doesn't matter,' 
Hai said at the annual convention of the Islamic Medical Association of
North America on Friday in Rosemont. "I am very eager to thank God and
serve the people of God in the soil of India."

That tenet is the path he and his two brothers, doctors Mahmood Hai and
Ahmad Hai, are following by building a 450-bed hospital in Bihar, where
their father, Dr. Mohammad Hai, taught medicine.

As bad as conditions can be for some here, for most in India, health 
is almost nonexistent. Patients often have to buy their own medical
supplies, bandages, food and even linens before being admitted to the
hospital for an operation.

When the first section of the Hai Medicare and Research Institute opens 

ovember--built on land donated by the family and with some $5 million 
donations--it will provide access to top-level care that will include a
used cardiology center donated from Grant Hospital here.

"It will be open to all--Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews," said Ahmad
Hai, who will be managing director of the facility.

All three brothers have hopes that it will help them fulfill their
religious convictions.

"Islam is not a bunch of rituals. It is a lifestyle. You must show by 
actions," said Mahmood Hai, a urologist near Ann Arbor, Mich.

That's what helps bind the 2,000 members of the Downers Grove-based
Islamic Medical Association, which is meeting in conjunction with the
Islamic Society of North America.

"Every soul on this Earth is supposed to be helped by every other soul. 
do it. It is a responsibility to help," said Dr. Khursheed Mallick,
executive director of the group.

Annette Hai, a registered nurse, saw Mahmood Hai's faith in action and 
so impressed that she converted to Islam from Roman Catholicism four 
ago and married the urologist.

"There's a mystique about Islam, and people have very little 
she said. "But many beliefs are exactly the same as Christianity."

And the outreach to the needy, she said, is proof of its depth.

"Service to others," Hamid Hai said, "is the real reality."

U.S. seeing big growth in Muslim population
Muslims now form the largest minority religion in the United States, 
an estimated 6 million followers. An estimated 400,000 live in the 

Because the Islamic faith is not only a religion, but a way of life for
more than 1 billion people worldwide, measuring the exact numbers--and 
rate of growth--is difficult.

The number of mosques in the United States has grown from a relatively
small number in 1960 to more than 2,000 today, said Ibrahim Hooper, a
spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. There are 
90 mosques in the Chicago area.

The number of Muslim families in Naperville alone has nearly doubled, 
500, in the past five years, said Kareem Irfan of the Council of 
Organizations of Greater Chicago.


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