Tension in Religious Practices of Muslim Students when Studying Emergency Medical Care

Keywords: Emergency medical care, Muslim minorities, religious inclusion and exclusion, textual and lived Islam, Muslim students


The Bachelor of Health Science degree in Emergency Medical Care (BHS EMC) in South Africa requires that students participate in clinical learning and medical rescue practicals. This study explores the views and experiences of a sample of Muslim students studying EMC at one university regarding potential areas of conflict between their religious obligations and the required academic activities. Second, in presenting the outcomes of these interviews, the article also reflects on the challenges facing secular universities when confronted with heterogeneity in understanding the religious requirements or obligations of the faithful – articulated or unarticulated – in the same religious community on the one hand, and the dilemma of maximum religious accommodation and embrace of religious pluralism versus pragmatism and the limitations of programmatic and budgetary constraints, on the other. Third, in discussing the challenges presented by the students, and their understanding of Islam and its requirements, we use the ideas of Shahab Ahmed (d. 2015) as articulated in his magnum opus, What is Islam? (Ahmed 2016). He argues that the term ‘Islam’ ‘expresses a historical and human phenomenon in its plenitude and complexity of meaning’ (Ahmed 2016:5). Finally, in locating the responses of our informants within their religio-theological and legal contexts, as well as in the broader world of Islam in social and cultural contexts, we draw attention to the nuanced realities of both textual and lived Islam.


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eISSN: 1011-7601