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Thursday, February 15, 2007

UMMA Community Clinic in Los Angeles

Below you will read an article about UMMA Community in Los Angeles where Islam is at work in our Southern California community.

UMMA Community Clinic's Yasser Aman

By Sidra Ahmad

Yasser Aman dedicates most of his time at the UMMA Community Clinic in South Los Angeles where he has been working even before its opening many years ago. Currently, he is the President and CEO of the clinic. UMMA Community Clinic provides health care to the uninsured regardless of race, gender or religious creed.

Alkalima Magazine: What is your background in the health profession?

Yasser Aman: The UMMA Community Clinic really turned me to public health. I was once planning to get into medicine, but I really fell in love with the concept of Public Health. My specific interest is in public health care delivery and providing health care access to the uninsured.

AM: What inspired you to begin working for the UMMA Community Clinic?

YA: I found inspiration through the founders of the UMMA Clinic; a young group of first-generation Muslims on their way to becoming young doctor-sons and daughters. I was inspired by the commitment of the founders and their conviction in pioneering into a project that really inspired everybody that got involved. I felt it was a wonderful concept, that you can actually go to school, apply what you learn, and at the same time serve the [Islamic] deen (way of life).

AM: Who was involved in its birth?

YA: The UMMA Clinic founders were a group of Muslim medical and public health students at UCLA. Several of the founders were just finishing up at med school or were in med school when UMMA Clinic was started, so a lot of undergrads got involved.

AM: How was working for the clinic different from being involved in your MSA?

YA: This was something beyond the MSA conferences and other programs that MSAs organize. It has a direct impact on human beings that would otherwise have no access to the Muslim community. UMMA Clinic is the first of its kind in the country because it was addressing an immediate need; it came at the heels of the riots in 1992. A group of first-generation Muslims who had no ethnic relations took it upon themselves and founded a community clinic.

AM: What kept you working for the clinic?

YA: A lot of people don't realize that [UMMA] stands for “University Muslim Medical Association.” Al-hamdu lilLah (praise be to Allah) it has a double meaning. The University part of the name is actually critical to the part of the mission of the clinic. Apart from providing medical care to the community, the clinic is a way to provide a link between the campus and the community. I was first introduced to the clinic as an undergraduate. [The Clinic] is a teaching site for the UCLA school of Medicine, and for the Charles Drew University [a Medical School in Watts ]. Student experiences at UMMA Clinic inspire future medical providers to come back and give to the community.

AM: Can you share an experience of yours that inspired you to continue working for the clinic?

YA: I was taking some extension classes at UCLA before 9/11. A much respected UCLA professor saw an article regarding UMMA clinic. He brought the article to share with his class, knowing that I was in the class. He said something that really kind of touched me and made me think about what my role and the role of the clinic was. He said, “I did not know Muslims cared.” Coming from a person that is fairly educated and cultured, it really hit me. I thought, ‘You know what? Wait a minute here, all my life I've been brought up a Muslim and I've been taught to care and we are taught about the mercy of Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu `alayhi wa sallam(peace and blessings be upon him).' Here was prime opportunity to show Islam in a non-traditional way; to express itself through a project that really embodies the spirit of the religion. At that point I realized how my professional and Islamic goals coincided. I felt an obligation on myself to serve as an example of the humanity that exists in Islam and to make this message of the UMMA clinic heard. I realized that it was important for me to develop my professional skills as well as help the clinic. I learned the value of my role at the clinic, and more importantly the value of the clinic at large, as one can say in America, as post 9/11, and post London. The very essence of the UMMA clinic is to SAVE human life, beyond creed or ethnicity. This project, which started nine years ago, is the real brochure that the Muslim community will always be proud of having in their backyard that shows what Islam is every day, 365 days a year in South LA. Most Americans are unaware of the fact that Muslims do care. Many instead, assert that Muslims are bent on destruction. UMMA became one of the ways for me to fulfill my Islamic duties and repel false ideas regarding Islam and Muslims.

AM: In what ways does UMMA Clinic mold its community service efforts after Prophet Muhammad (saws)?

YA: One hadith (prophetic saying) really summarizes the excellent efforts UMMA strives to achieve, “What actions are most excellent? To gladden the hearts of human beings, to feed the hungry, help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrowful, remove the wrongs of the injured.” We are striving to do the actions that are the most excellent at the clinic.

To learn more about the UMMA Community Clinic please visit ̹

AHMAD is a second year International Studies major and Digital Arts minor at UC Irvine.

1 comment:

Sidra said...

How fun! I wrote this article a few years back. I'm excited that you have it on your blog.