Muslim prayer rooms at new Cape Town hospital

Health facility provides for all faiths to practice religious observances

Friday, December 9 2016

A quiet place for reflection and prayer makes a world of difference to patients, visitors, doctors and staff members in a bustling healthcare facility. Muslim prayer rooms for men and women have therefore been incorporated in the new Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital for religious and spiritual observance, as part of the facility’s efforts to provide a welcoming environment for individuals of all faiths.

Dr Azgher Karjieker, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon who practises at the hospital, has been assisting the project team with the establishment of the Muslim prayer rooms in the new Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital. “There was a small space for Muslim prayer in the old hospital building, but larger rooms have been incorporated in the new building for the observances of our faith for both men and women,” he explains.

Dr Karjieker motivated for the expansion of the Muslim prayer room when the hospital moved to its new premises on the Cape Town Foreshore. “I am grateful to management for involving me in this aspect of the new facility from an early stage. The Muslim prayer rooms will be officially opened on Saturday, 10 December,” he adds.
“Muslims pray five times a day. Our lives revolve around these prayer times, so we try to make time for them wherever we are, whether we are at work, out and about, or at home. Prayers can be performed alone, but it is much better to share worship together, in a congregation.

“At Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital, we have many Muslim patients, staff members and medical personnel. It is not always practical to find a convenient place to pray if there is not a prayer room provided, and delaying prayers until we get home is not ideal.”

The five daily prayers are Fajr at dawn, Zuhr in the early afternoon, Asr in the later afternoon, Maghrib in the evening, and Isha at night. The Muslim prayer rooms, which are referred to as a Salaah or Jamaat Khana in Arabic, will make it more convenient for Islamic people to adhere to their religious observances.

“The accessibility of the Muslim prayer rooms in the new Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital will certainly be convenient, particularly for the midday and mid-afternoon prayers, when visiting hours and prayer times coincide. Thus Muslims visiting their loved ones in hospital and also patients who are mobile will be able to make use of this facility,” Dr Karjieker notes.
Muslims prefer to pray in an area where there are no statues or photos on display. An ablution area is provided for cleansing before prayers, in accordance with tradition. “The hands, face, ears, forearms and feet are washed prior to prayers, and shoes are placed on a rack before entering the carpeted prayer area.

“As Muslims we are in a constant state of either thankfulness, when things are going well, or patience, when God challenges us with difficulties, medical or otherwise. Both circumstances lead to supplication to God and, in a healthcare facility in particular, having the prayer rooms on site is a great comfort,” Dr Karjieker notes.

The general manager of Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital, Chris Tilney, says that the Muslim prayer rooms are integral to making the facility inclusive for people of various faiths, reflecting the multi-culturalism for which Cape Town is celebrated.

“Muslim patients will also have their dietary needs catered for, as the kitchen at our new hospital is fully-certified Halaal, as it was at the facility’s previous location. It is our hope that Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital in its new incarnation will be an inclusive healing environment, where people of all faiths can draw spiritual comfort,” Tilney concluded.



Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville, or Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:    [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected]