Chapter 6 Muslium Culture



  • Sean N. Bennett, RN, MSN - Assistant Professor - Utah Valley University - Orem, Utah
  • Sarah Maia, RN, BSN - Mt. Olympus Rehab - Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Linda Peregoy, RN, BSN - Utah Valley Hospital - Provo,Utah








Muslim culture is characterized by being patriarchal, with the male figure assuming all responsibilities for the family. Once a daughter gets married she leaves her family and become a member of her husband’s family. It is the responsibility of the sons and their wives to care for the older parents later in life. Most women avoid contact with the opposite sex on a daily basis. When families visit other families they are encouraged to spend time with same-sex members of the family. It comes as no surprise that women and men gather in different areas when there are meetings or activities. A Muslim would reply that such actions are practiced to avoid lust between a man and a woman, and maintain the appearance of propriety among members of a congregation. The same explanation is applied when wondering why women cover their bodies, hair, or even face, in public areas. Muslim diet is traditionally characterized by complete absence of alcohol, no pork or pork product (that includes Jell-O), and consumption of zabiha beef. Zabiha slaughter is characterized by inflicting the least amount of pain to animals. It is the encouraged form of slaughter in the Quran because it shows respect and compassion to God’s creations. Burial rituals for Muslims include never leaving the body alone, since they believe it is to be a difficult and confusing time for the spirit. Dying patients are told to focus on the afterlife and not worry about others staying behind. A lot of visitors are expected in the hospital since a visit is considered a sign of friendship and loyalty. The family is ultimately in charge of funeral preparations and there is no need of a religious leader present at the time. The patient if often placed facing northeast and the Quran is recited continuously. Upon death, eyes are closed immediately, hands and legs straightened. Washing, dressing, and shrouding of body in white is done by family members. Burial takes place within 24 hrs and no casket is used so that the body may return to the ground. Because of such rituals, Muslims only accept autopsy procedures if it is extremely necessary. Cremation is also not practiced.

Values and Norms


Most Muslims have to follow the teachings of Mohammed or the text of the Koran, and have as their mission to spread the Islamic faith worldwide. The teachings of Muhammad's include rules for the state organization, instructions for how people should interact with one another, and even standards for daily routine. Women, in the Muslim world, are a special being. In order to receive proper respect, women have to wear long gowns that hides the shape of the body and cover the hair. Some areas require women to also cover their faces including eyes depending on how strict the religious views are in the country. Women may also suffer from other restrictions such as not being able to study, work, be treated as equals by their husbands, or even have no right to property which in some cases are reserved to the male heir in the family.

Traditions, Beliefs and Attitudes


Muslim culture is greatly influenced by the idea that our destiny is already predetermined by Allah. If someone is diagnosed with a terminal disease or tragedy strikes a family, most people, although grieving, show acceptance of such instances. Health care providers are often not second-guessed by patients since they have great respect in their communities. Obese individuals are still considered by some to reflect an image of health and wealth in the population. Water is seen as a purifying agent and is used in ceremonies to promote cleansing of body and spirit. If water is not available, sand or pebbles may be used to symbolize the same significance.



The predominant religion among Muslims is the Islam. It is the second largest religion in the world extending to over 50 countries. Islamism today is often associated with war and violence, but they could not be farther from the truth. The word Islam means peace and, although the religion may support war when a population is under attack or imminent threat, peace is always the preferred choice. Islam requires that followers are fully committed to one true God called "Allah" and although the same God is shared by Muslims and Christians, Islam condemns the use of any form of idols or images that portray God. According to the doctrine, all Muslims are born pure, and gain the kingdom of heaven if they comply with their clearly defined obligations during their lives. Ordinary Muslims, when they die, wait for the final judgement in a intermediate stage.

The Islam is characterized by 7 tenants of faith: 1- There is only one God 2- The belief of angels 3- The belief of scriptures 4- The belief of Prophets 5- The idea that our destiny has already been determined 6- End of the world 7- After life

Muslims consider the Koran to be the written word of God, therefore it is considered divine by followers. The religious meetings are often held on Fridays around noon. The requires its members to pray five times daily directed towards the holy city of Mecca (northeast) at the following times: before the sunrise, early afternoon, late afternoon, sunset, and ninety minutes after sunset.

The 5 Pillars of faith every observant Muslim should follow in his or her lifetime is: 1- Profess your faith 2- Pray 5 times a day 3- Fast during the month of Ramadan 4- Give to charity (2.5% of savings) 5- Pilgrimage to Mecca

Sense of Self and Space


Muslims consider families to be extremely important. The sense of caring and visiting other individuals has become part of their culture. A Muslim may visit other Muslim in need in their community even if they have never met before but yet they believe to be connected by Allah. Individualization is also important as it is up to the individual to carry a worthy life and give a good example to others.

Communication Style and Language


Because the Muslim community spreads to so many different continents it is impossible to limit the culture to one specific language and communication style. The Muslim population extends from the Middle East to China, India, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Although 82% of the world Muslims are considered non-Arabic and they all share different languages, ethnicity, and local customs, religion is still predominantly spoken in Arabic. Members of all other areas in the world must learn the words in the Arabic language to properly understand the Koran.

Food and Feeding Habits


Muslims eat only halaal meat(meat prepared similar to kosher meat). If halaal meat is not available, the kosher meat or vegetarian meals are acceptable.They do not eat pork or any pork products(lard, bacon, ham), and will not want to use any medicaations that use pork in their preparation, such as insulin and some eye drops, unless the preparations are unavailable. Islam strictly prohibits the use of alcohol or recreational drugs. Fish and seafood is considered halaal and may be eaten.

During the 29 to 30 days of the holy month of Ramadan (ninth lunar month each year, Muslims fast from food, drink, and sexual activity from dawn to dusk.People who are ill, women who are within the 40-day postpartum period and women who are menstruating are not obliged to fast during the holy season of Ramadan. If they are able to fast at a later time they are encouraged to do so. If unable to fast, another acceptable way to compensate for the lack of fasting is to give money to the poor.

Time Consciousness


In Islam time is very valuable.One must learn to organize one's time between worldly and religious duties. One method of managing a Muslim's time is to get up early and to sleep early.

Relationships and Social Organization


The family is the foundation of Islamic society.Before marriage there is no contact at all between males and females. Dating is in groups or the couple is chaparoned. Sexual relations outside of marriage is strictly forbidden. Sexual relations are only in marriage bewteen husband and wife. The relationship between husband and wife should be based on mutuality, cooperation, and love. Fathers are financially responsibile for their family and obliged to care for their well-being. Children are God's gifts and are treasured; they rarely leave home until they marry. Mothers are greatly honored. Children have a responsibility to look after their parents.

Education and Learning


Islam calls upon Muslims to pursue knowledge, they are required to acquire both religious and worldly knowledge. The Quran is believed to be the literal word of God and as such is a book of divine guidance and direction. It is read and studied daily.

Work Habits and Practices


Muslims may work thoughout the week although Friday is their weekly religious holiday and they are encouraged to attend the mosque at noontime.

Muslims are to recognize that wealth,earnings,and material goods are the property of God and we are merely His trustees.


... As a Registered Nurse (RN), it would be important to recognize:

  1. Privacy-knock on the door, announce arrival, etc. Muslims pray five times a day and generally will not interupt their prayers to answer the phone, or a knock on the door.
  2. Respect modesty-for both men and women. Women may want to keep their entire body covered except for their face, hands and feet. Patient gowns should be long with long sleeves, if this is not possible, allow Muslim women to wear their own gowns. It is unacceptable for the opposite sex to touch, where possible provide a nurse/physician of the same sex to provide care. If a male clinician nees to touch a Muslim woman her husband or a female family member should be present.
  3. Allow visitors-family and friends have a obligation to visit the sick and my bring ethnic foods and pray for the ill person.
  4. Be aware of dietary needs and restrictions-no pork or pork products and no alcohol. Meat needs to be halaal prepared.
  5. Culturally,the role of the male is "to protect their loved ones." If the physician has grim news pertaining to the patient,the family usually prefers to be told first and then they will determine the best way to tell the patient.


See Also










  1. Miklancie, Margaret A. "Caring for Patients of Diverse Religious Traditions: Islam, a Way If Life for Muslims." Home Healthcare Nurse 6 (2007): 413-417.
  2. Fatima, S. (2011). Who Counts as a Muslim? Identity, Multiplicity and Politics. Journal Of Muslim Minority Affairs, 31(3), 339-353. doi:10.1080/13602004.2011.599542
  3. Abu-Ras, W., & Laird, L. (2011). How Muslim and Non-Muslim Chaplains Serve Muslim Patients? Does the Interfaith Chaplaincy Model have Room for Muslims' Experiences?. Journal Of Religion & Health, 50(1), 46-61. doi:10.1007/s10943-010-9357-4
  4. Rangoonwala, F. I., Epinoza, S., & Epinoza, R. E. (2011). Muslim identity, dress code adherence and college adjustment among American Muslim women. Journal Of Muslim Minority Affairs, 31(2), 231-241.
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