Cultural Beliefs and Practices: Other Influences

According to Al-Jibaly (1998) a sick person should remember that his sickness is a test from God which carries tidings of forgiveness and mercy for him. Thus, he should avoid complaining about his affliction; accept it with patience and satisfaction and asking God to reduce his suffering. Patients may consider an illness as atonement for their sins, and death as part of a journey to meet their God. Illness is thought to be one of the forms of experience by which humans arrive at knowledge of God.

Every year during the month of Ramadan (called “Ramzan” in Pakistan), Pakistani Muslims fast from first day light until sunset. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar, Al-Hijrah. During the Fast of Ramadan, Moslems are not allowed to eat or drink during the daylight hours. Smoking and sexual relations are also forbidden during fasting. At the end of the day the fast is broken with prayer and a meal called the iftar.The fast is resumed the next morning and continues for the whole month of Ramadan.

It is believed that fasting teaches obedience to God and is required only by adults who are physically capable and mentally competent. Elderly people, ill people, travelers, pregnant women, lactating mothers, menstruating women, women with postpartum discharge, and women who have experienced a miscarriage are exempt from fasting. The physiological effects of fasting include lowering of blood sugar levels, lowering of the cholesterol level and lowering of the systolic blood pressure. Also spiritually it draws Moslems closer to their creator.

Namaz

These are obligatory prayers that are performed fives times a day at designated times. Also many traditional Moslems go to the Masjid (Mosque or Islamic Church) on Fridays to offer special prayers. It is important to schedule medical visits appropriately in order to avoid conflicts with namaz. Care givers may need to provide a clean sheet required by women to cover them during prayers.

Wudu

Wudu is the ceremonial washing that is done before prayer and debilitated patients may need help performing wudu. Providers should take care to preserve the cleanliness of the patient’s clothes and covers from urine as much as possible, and to help the patient wash or wash him/her for prayer. If there is difficulty or danger in using water then a dry Wudu called Tayamum is acceptable.

Religious Moslems eat only Halal (lawful or sanctified meat) and do not eat blood, porcine meat or Haram (non-sanctified) meat. This means that all forms of pork, such as bacon and ham, are forbidden to Moslems.