Doctors practice more than just their faith in several mosques across North Texas – they are also practicing medicine, free of charge.
The Islamic Association of North Texas in Richardson boasts one of the longest-running free health clinics in the Muslim community.
Like many of the patients they treat, the clinic had humble beginnings.
It was started in 1999 by Dr. Amer Shakil and Dr. Khalida Yasmin, husband and wife from Pakistan.
They came to North Texas with a will to heal – and the will to help.
“Amer had this dream, of having a clinic,” Yasmin said.
“When we go to medical school, we have this thinking, this passion that you’re going to do something for other people,” added Shakil.
They began with donated equipment, a table and chair set up inside the mosque.
In nearly 20 years, they have grown to an actual clinic with an exam room, a dentist’s set up, and an optometrist’s office. A gynecologist and psychiatrist are on stand-by.
They see only uninsured patients and treat nearly 2,000 people every single year.
“We basically see patients that have nothing and who are eligible for nothing,” Yasmin said. “There is no other option. They can’t go anywhere, it’s too expensive for them.”
There are about 15 doctors who volunteer their time and expertise. The people who run the clinic, from the woman who checks in patients to the high school student who schedules appointments, are also volunteers.
"We don’t have any financial sources, but I think there are great blessings from God almighty that this thing runs just superbly on its own," Yasmin said.
On a Tuesday evening, Layla Marouf was the last patient to be seen by orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Umar Burney. The 71-year-old is from Syria, visiting family in Dallas for six months.
A slip led to a broken bone in her foot. A walk into her nephew’s mosque means a quick diagnosis, a prescription, and peace of mind. There is no payment needed, only a donation if they choose to do so.
“I never appreciated it because I never needed it,” said Marwan Marouf, Layla’s nephew. “Now that we walked in here, it is truly a blessing.”
A blessing, too, for the doctors who donate their time.
“If you cannot serve your own community, you can’t serve a bigger community. But the purpose was to serve everybody," Shakil said.
The clinic in the Richardson mosque is by appointment only, open Tuesday and Thursday evenings, as well as Saturdays and Sundays. It is open to people of all faiths.