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Gina Antonucci | Julia Cox | Lauren Makosky |Tori McCormick | Ahlam Mishmish | Selina Nuzzi | Blake Veglia
• Overview of the Arabic Culture

• Nutrition
 Daily Meals
 Ramadan
 Related Diseases
 A Culturally Competent Approach

• Pregnancy
 Contraceptives & Sterilization
 During Pregnancy
 Breastfeeding & Circumcision
 Customs

• Death and Rituals

 When to Bury a Deceased Muslim
 Organ Donation
 Embalming
 Cremation
 Preparing Body for Burial
 Shrouding (Kafan)
 Viewing and Visitation of Muslim Funeral AGENDA

• Conclusion

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Overview of the Arabic Culture

• “Arabs trace their ancestry and traditions to the

nomadic desert tribes of the Arabian Peninsula” (Purnell,
2012, p. 101)

• The language that is commonly shared among this

population is Arabic

• In addition, most are united by Islam, which is the

“world’s largest religion that originated in the 7 th- century
Arabia” (2012)

• However, despite these bonds, a great amount of

diversity still exists among Arabs in regards to religious
preference as well as other variant characteristics of

Source: Purnell, 2014

Overview of the Arabic Culture Cont’d

• In regard to healthcare, religion and cultural background greatly influences an individuals’ “beliefs,
behaviors, and attitudes toward health and illness” (2008)

• Unfortunately, as a result, this population is at an increased risk for developing a number of

diseases due to their:
o Modesty
o Gender preference in healthcare providers
o Illness causation misconceptions

Source: Yosef,
Overview of the Arabic Culture: In the United States

• Interestingly “the Arab Muslim population is one of the dramatically increasing minorities in the
United States” (Yosef, 2008, para. 1)

• Therefore, it is important for healthcare professionals to become more knowledgeable about

some of the barriers that exist in order to provide culturally competent care as well as health

• For instance, Arabs tend to be more expressive with their family members and more restrained in
the presence of healthcare providers

Source: Yosef, 2008 5

Nutrition: Daily Meals

• Breakfast:
o Breakfast is often a quick meal consisting of bread, jam and dairy products
o The most common dish is labneh and cream
o Flat bread with olive oil and za’atar, and hummus with pita bread are also commonly consumed
at breakfast
o Sometimes, pastries such as manaqeesh and fatayer are also eaten at breakfast

• Lunch:
o Lunch is a lighter meal
o Fattoush and Tabouleh, which are types of popular Arabic salads, can be eaten at lunch
o Hummus and pita bread, rice, grilled halloumi, and falafel are also ideal lunch meals

• Dinner:
o Dinner is the main meal of the day
o Dinner typically consists of a meat (lamb or chicken), rice, lentils, bread, and a portion of
o Often the meat and vegetables are cooked together in a sauce to make maraq, which is served
on the rice

Source: Arab Culture Awareness 6

Nutrition: Daily Meals Cont’d

• Beverages:
o Coffee and tea for breakfast
o Shineena, karakaden, tamr hindi, and fruit juices for lunch and dinner
o Pork and alcoholic beverages are forbidden

• Desserts:
o Sweets are made and consumed all year round; however, they are consumed much more
during the month of Ramadan
o Baklava, knafeh, basbousa, umm ali, and kebab karaz are typical desserts.
o Qatayef is made especially for Ramadan only

• When eating, drinking, offering, or passing food/beverages, they must only use their right hand. The
left hand is considered unclean

Nutrition: Ramadan

• Sahur is the meal eaten just before dawn,

when fasting begins

• It is eaten to give the person enough energy

to make it through the day until Maghreb time

• Iftar is the meal eaten at dusk when fasting

has ended. This meal consists of three
1. First, they eat a date based on
Islamic tradition
2. Second, they eat a soup or anything
they really want
3. Finally the main dish, which is similar
to dinner, is consumed after Maghreb

“…let this month heal you…”

-Umm Umar Khaled

Source: Arab Culture Awareness 8

Nutrition: Related Diseases

• Most important diet-related diseases in the Arab countries include:

1. Cardiovascular diseases
2. Osteoporosis
3. Diabetes mellitus
4. Cancer
5. Obesity

• Nutrition related diseases are often manifested by under-nutrition and over-nutrition

• “Under nutrition remains one of the most serious health problems among preschool children and the
single main contributor to child mortality in many low and middle income Arab countries” (Musaiger
et.al, 2008, para. 2)

• A significant proportion of children are undernourished, and over a third of the population in this
region suffers from micronutrient deficiencies (2008)

• Under-nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies in the Arab Region can manifest themselves in “low
growth rate in children low birth weight, deficiencies in iron, iodine and vitamins A and D” (2008)

Source: Musaiger et. al, 2008

Nutrition: A Culturally Competent Approach

• “When it is necessary to feed an Arab patient, use the right hand, regardless of the dominant hand”
(Purnell, 2012, p. 109).

• Considering eating and drinking at the same time is viewed as “unhealthy,” it is important to serve
beverages after the meal is eaten (2012)

• Although Muslims are not required to fast when they are sick, many still insist on doing so while they
are hospitalized. Therefore “adjust meal times and medications given by non-oral routes. [Also]
provide appropriate times after sunset during Ramadan for individuals requiring injections” (2012)

Source: Purnell, 2014 10

Pregnancy: Contraceptives & Sterilization

• The Quran does not specifically refer to

contraception. However, some Arabic’s are opposed
to birth control and often quote the Quran

• While others, support the use of birth control and

argue that this interpretation is incorrect
o They believe that modern contraception
techniques are permitted as long as they are
used within marriage and are reversible

• Sterilization is not permitted

“..you should not kill your children for fear of want…"

- Quran 17:31, 6:151

Source: Quran
During Pregnancy

• Pregnant Arab women recite additional prayers in the early morning hours

• There are also many prayers called duas, which Arabic women read out loud

• It is also common for pregnant Arab women to read aloud the entire Quran during their pregnancy

• During the first weeks of pregnancy a woman recites prayers each day while blowing on her stomach

• Pregnant Arabic women do not partake in the fast to ensure the baby receives the nutrition he or she

• For some Arabic women it is common to choose a female medical professional to assist in prenatal
care and delivery

• Regardless of what gender an Arabic woman wants in the delivery room, modesty is very important in
her culture and extra care should be taken to insure she feels comfortable

Pregnancy: Breastfeeding & Circumcision

• Breastfeeding is highly encouraged in Arabic

culture and some mothers’ breastfeed until the
child reaches two years of age

• Male circumcision is a religious practice

• It is customary for the newborns father to

whisper the Shahadatan which states:
o “There is no one worthy of worship but
Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's
Messenger”, in the baby’s right ear” (“The
Meaning of Shahadatan,” 2013, para. 1)

Source: “The Meaning of Shadatan,” 2013 13

Pregnancy: Customs

• Henna is commonly applied to a new mothers feet after childbirth in order to insure she does not
overwork herself after giving birth

• She must have help from another family member or friend to help take care of any older children,
housework and to help with care of the new baby

• This is also used to help the mother bond with the infant

• Cultures that use this type of technique in order to ensure bonding typically have lower rates of post-
partum depression

• Old Wives Tales- Mother’s are told not to bath post partum because it is believed that if air gets inside
of the uterus it will cause illness

Death Rituals

• When a Muslim is approaching death it is very important that family members are present

• During this time they encourage the person dying by telling them “Shahada”, confirming that there is
no God but Allah

• Once the person has passed the family says “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un”

• Converted to English meaning “Verily we belong to Allah, and truly to Him shall we return”
Its very important once the Muslim has passed that they eyes and jaw are closed and to cover the body
with a clean sheet

Source: Gatrad, 1994 15

Death Rituals: When to Bury a Deceased Muslim?

• According to the Islamic law the body of the

deceased should be buried as soon as

• There should be minimum amount of time

between death and burial

Source: Gatrad, 1994 16

Death Rituals: Arabic Organ Donation

• Muslims believe that organ donating is acceptable

• They believe that as whosoever saves the life of one person it would be as if he saved the life of

Source: Gatrad, 1994 17

Death Rituals: Forbidden Practices

• Embalming is forbidden and not allowed unless required by state or federal law

• Cremation is forbidden

Source: Gatrad, 1994 18

Death Rituals: Preparing Arabic Body for Burial

• This is a very important process of the

Muslim Burial Process

• It is very important that the deceased body to

be washed three times also called “Ghusl”

Source: Gatrad, 1994 19

Death Rituals: Shrouding (Kafan)

• Muslims obtain 3 large white sheets and the body is wrapped in the three sheets

• The shrouding is secured by ropes:

o1 rope tied above the head
o2 Ropes tied around the body
o1 Rope tied below the feet

Death Rituals: Viewing, Visitation of Muslim Funeral

• There is no viewing for the funeral due to the fact that the individual is to be buried as soon as they
have passed and there isn’t time for this event

• Muslim women never attend burials and it is rare for funeral directors to be involved

• They are united in the belief of the sacredness of the human body and thus disapprove postmortem

• Muslims prefer to die in their own homes

• They believe in the day of judgment and the life hereafter, and that on approaching one's death it is
important to ask for forgiveness of violations against humans before asking for forgiveness from God
for sins

Source: Gatrad, 1994 21


1. First, provide a same-sex caregiver

whenever possible

2. Secondly, even though Muslims are

concerned about the ingredients and
origins of medicines and insulin capsules
derived from pig “if no substitutes are
available, Muslims are permitted to use
these” (Purnell, 2012, p. 109)

3. Thirdly, explain the importance of the

immune properties of colostrum

4. Finally “Islam does not require treatment to

be provided to a Muslim patient if it merely
prolongs the final stages of a terminal
illness” (Mogadasian et. al, 2014, para. 3).
“…healthcare providers need to understand
that it is inappropriate to pigeonhole people by
their cultural background…”
– Larry Purnell

Source: Purnell, 2014; Mogadasian et. al, 2014


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