The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has provided American Muslims with a unique opportunity to put our faith into practice: signing up for health insurance helps us better look after our own health, as well as the health of others in our community.
It is narrated in a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) that “Your body has a right over you” (Sahih Muslim). In other words, Allah has blessed and entrusted us with a physical body, and we have an obligation to take proper care of it. Indeed, dietary restrictions and the instructions to perform ablutions before any prayers indicate the importance of maintaining one’s physical health. By having the proper tools, such as health coverage, one can better afford routine appointments with primary care physicians, who can provide important advice on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Health insurance also makes preventive services such as cancer screenings more affordable, so that many cancers can be detected and treated before they become dangerous. Thus, taking care of one’s own health is a way of giving thanks to God for His gifts.
In addition, Islam stresses the importance of looking after others in society. The Quran says, “They ask you as to what they should spend. Say: Whatever wealth you spend, it is for the parents and the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, and whatever good you do, God surely knows it.” (Quran 2:215). Many Muslims receive health insurance through their spouse or their parents; thus, buying a health insurance plan enables Muslims to provide healthcare access to their entire family. The ACA makes this process easier by allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they are 26 years of age, and making it illegal for insurance companies to charge men and women different premium rates.
Finally, it is the responsibility of American Muslims to look after our community’s well-being. Thus, signing up for health insurance is critical to our community’s long-term prosperity in the United States. It is narrated to us in another hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that, “The believers, in their mutual mercy, love and compassion, are like a (single) body; if one part of it feels pain, the rest of the body will join it in suffering” (Sahih Bukhari). Inadequate insurance coverage can lead to severe financial hardship when disaster strikes, and medical bills are the most common cause of bankruptcy in the United States. As a relatively small community in America (Muslims are roughly 1% of the U.S. population), it hurts us all when even a single brother or sister faces financial trouble. If we want to contribute to American society we can start by signing up for health insurance and protecting ourselves against financial ruin.
It is the responsibility of American Muslims to look after our community’s well-being. It is narrated to us in another hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that, “The believers, in their mutual mercy, love and compassion, are like a (single) body; if one part of it feels pain, the rest of the body will join it in suffering” (Sahih Bukhari).
We urge all Muslim Americans to at least become better informed about their options. It is also important to note that signing up for health insurance is not in and of itself enough to improve one’s health; indeed, one must take personal responsibility for their health and make sure to keep regular doctor’s appointments, take appropriate medications, and follow nutritional guidelines, among other things. Visit www.HealthCare.gov for more information, and remember that the next deadline to sign up for coverage is February 15, 2015.
About the Author:
Tasmiha Khan is a Chicagoland native and engaged in many spheres of her community. A graduate of Universal School, she serves on the Alumni Board as Vice President and is also the Founder of Brighter Dawns, a non-profit trying to improve slum conditions in Bangladesh beginning with the water and sanitation crisis. In 2012, she received her BA in Neuroscience & Behavior along with Psychology from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT where she serves as a Research Assistant (RA) examining devaluation among Muslim Americans after 9/11. She is also an RA at the University of Chicago’s Initiative on Islam & Medicine. As a health enthusiast she enjoys learning about Islamic spirituality and its effect on the mind, body, and soul.
Aamir Hussain graduated from Georgetown University with a BA in Government and a Theology minor in 2014. As a Muslim committed to promoting interfaith understanding, he was involved in IFYC’s Interfaith Leadership Institutes and served as a Better Together Coach. At Georgetown, Aamir designed the college’s first Hindu-Muslim dialogue, which has since become a staple of interfaith programming at the university. Aamir is especially interested in the intersections between public policy, religion, and healthcare. Aamir was a 2013-2014 Presidential Fellow with The Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress and published an essay on the religious freedom implications of the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act. Aamir blogs regularly for the Huffington Post, and is currently pursuing his MD at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.