Muslim Spiritual Care Support

Spiritual Care at Hennepin Healthcare supports patients and family members who are facing a health crisis, new diagnosis, difficult treatment decisions, end of life, loss and grief, and/or loneliness.

Historically, professional chaplain training and credentialing have emerged out of a largely Christian and Jewish context. This made sense when the patient population was more homogeneous. However, this is no longer adequate to address the spiritual and cultural needs of our diverse population.

Our philanthropic efforts are often influenced by those providing direct care and interacting with our patients and families. The absence of spiritual care for those practicing the Muslim faith was a known gap, that only widened because of the pandemic’s disproportionate effects on the East African community. After two years of conversation, a partnership with Open Path Resources was able to launch thanks to the generosity of our donor community.

To date, we have attracted enough funding to support a one-year contract to bring two Muslim faith leaders to our hospital.  Together they provide direct patient and family support and advance the competency of the spiritual care team in the nuances of the Muslim faith.

We welcome donations to extend this effort into the future. 

The U.S. Department of Human Services recently published an article by Rev. David Hottinger, Manager of the Spiritual Care Department at Hennepin Healthcare, titled: The Experience of Chaplains During COVID-19.

Meet Shukri Salah

Spiritual Care can better serve our East African community at Hennepin Healthcare thanks to the generous donations supporting two Muslim spiritual faith leaders. Imam Abuturab and Shukri Salah joined the Spiritual Care team in January as contracted employees through Open Path Resources, a nonprofit serving East African immigrant families and faith centers.

While on site, Shukri has spent time providing emotional and spiritual support for patients, families, and staff. She also helps patients and families navigate when and where to pray, since the Muslim community prays five times a day facing east.

“I feel when a patient or family sees us, a spiritual or Muslim guide, within the hospital, they feel welcome,” Shukri said. “This is the time they need us, emotionally.”

Shukri Cropped For Enews

This is especially importance as the pandemic has disproportionately affected the East African community. At this time, they still must go through proper training before they can care for patients with COVID-19, but they do meet with patient families.

“It’s tough times,” Shukri said. “They need someone with them, someone to ask to pray for them.”

Shukri moved to the United States with her husband and children in March 1999 after living at a refugee camp in Kenya since 1992. She was born and grew up in Somalia, but left because of the war. While at the camp, Shukri was a social worker for the UN Refugee Agency.

After moving to Nashville, Tennessee, Shukri took on various odd jobs and earned her GED, all while raising 10 children. In 2016, her family had to relocate once again, this time to Minnesota, where her mother was receiving cancer treatment. Shukri believes her variety of experiences will help her communicate with and comfort patients and families who practice the Muslim faith.

“I understand their culture and their religion,” Shukri said. “I tell the patients – ‘God will help you, remember that. You’re sick now, but you’re going to be okay.’”

She said the Muslim community’s strong faith help them cope with illness.
“They believe that the doctor is helping them, and at the same time, their situation or illness is under God,” Shukri said.

While talking about all her experiences, Shukri laughed – she never planned to work in spiritual care. In 2019, she met with a group of Muslim spirituals who introduced her to chaplaincy. At the same time, she’s studying at Minneapolis Community and Technical College to become a teacher.

“I’m so happy to be a part of Hennepin Healthcare,” Shukri said. “Life changes. You never know what’s going to happen or where you’re going to end up. Life takes you wherever God takes you.”

If you'd like to mail in your contribution, please send a check with Muslim Spiritual Care in the memo line to: Hennepin Healthcare Foundation, 701 Park Avenue, LSB3 Minneapolis, MN 55415

Check with your employer to see if they have a matching gift program. Hennepin Healthcare Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a tax identification number of 41-0845733.