Hospitals – Physical privacy

Single rooms

In a private room, patients and their visitors will have better control of their physical privacy, and will enjoy more silence during any religious contemplations.

Most public and private hospitals have single rooms, shared rooms and wards. Private patients may request a single room, however generally priority will be given to patients according to medically assessed needs.

Patient’s clothing

Islam requires both men and women to dress modestly either in public or in the presence of non-family members of the opposite gender. For Muslim men, this usually means keeping the area between the navel and the knees covered, and for Muslim women, only the face, hands and feet are usually left exposed. This standard may not be followed by all Muslims, as there are differences in individual interpretation.

Generally, inpatients or overnight patients are requested to bring their own casual and comfortable daytime clothes and shoes, and night attire (pyjamas or gowns with non-slip sole slippers).

Patients requiring surgery may be requested to wear a short open-back gown of special lightweight material (example). In order to not expose yourself unnecessarily, it may be possible to request wearing long-sleeved pyjamas instead (example). It would however be preferable to inform medical staff before or during your admission to the hospital.

Inter-gender contact

The requirement for modesty can affect health care as some patients may be reluctant to expose their bodies for examination or to expose areas not directly affected.

Since the COVID pandemic, hand shaking between medical staff and patients and others has become a less often used practice.

Eye contact
Direct eye contact is sometimes short or avoided between men and women.

Physical assistance
You may want to bring a disposable water bottle or jug for the patient to assist with washing after urination or defecation (for a visit to the toilet, or for bedbound patients using a bed pan).

Physical examinations
Muslims (both men and women) may be expecting to being examined by a health care provider of their own gender. Female patients may prefer a family member to be present during an examination.