Muslim American Doctors Share Personal Stories, Emphasize Giving Back to the Community

HOUSTON, September 30, 2019 — Asia Society Texas Center concluded the inaugural year of its Muslim Series with a distinguished and inspiring panel of Muslim doctors and community builders. Dr. Rafat Ansari and Dr. Zoreen Ansari from South Bend, Indiana; Dr. Kamal Busaidy of UT Health; and Dr. Osama Gaber of Houston Methodist joined the moderator, Dr. Umair Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health, to share their personal stories and commitment to building a better world.

Dr. Shah opened the program by highlighting the contributions of the ancient Muslim world to global health, including breakthroughs in science and medicine. He indicated that these contributions have lived on to the modern era, with Muslim physicians representing five percent of all American physicians today.

As the speakers shared their individual journeys through medicine, a common theme emerged: the importance of community not only in the panelists’ work but in their lives.

Moving from Pakistan to South Bend, Indiana, Drs. Rafat and Zoreen Ansari built a family while establishing their professional careers. Their daughter Sonya inspired them to establish the Sonya Ansari Center for Autism in 2008 to better serve the community and address the gaps in care and advocacy.

For Dr. Gaber, the loss of his daughter Nora in a tragic accident led him to establish Nora’s Home in her memory, offering transplant patients and their families the comfort of a home-like environment and a place to share support and experiences.

For Dr. Busaidy, giving back to the community is accomplished through teaching, where his passion for his students is evident, as well as through his work with the Shifa USA clinic. The Shifa clinic seeks to serve the entire community, including those who are non-Muslim.

When asked by an audience member how their faith informs their community-building, the panelists underlined the strength found in learning from each other and overcoming misunderstandings about faith. They encouraged working together, particularly through interfaith groups. To this end, Drs. Rafat and Zoreen Ansari helped found the Institute for Global Engagement with Religion at Notre Dame University in 2018 to deepen understanding of religions around the world.

Through their answers, it was made clear that the speakers hoped — through education, through family, and through community — to leave the world a better place.

The program was the final of four programs that constituted the first year of Asia Society Texas Center’s Muslim Series.

View more photos on Flickr.

About Asia Society Texas Center

With 14 locations throughout the world, Asia Society is the leading educational organization promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among the peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asia and West. Asia Society Texas Center executes the global mission with a local focus, enriching and engaging the vast diversity of Houston through innovative, relevant programs in arts and culture, business and policy, education, and community outreach.

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