Muslim Doctor Seeks to Open Illinois’ First Sharia-Compliant Surgery Center

ChicagoChicago, Illinois — A Chicago-based doctor who also owns an extravagant Middle Eastern restaurant is now seeking to open the first Sharia-complaint surgery center in Illinois.

According to Chicago Business, Dr. Naser Rustom, who owns Alhambra Palace Restaurant, a 24,000 square-foot facility in Chicago, has proposed a $5.5 million medical center in the Orland Park area.

While the facility will welcome those of all faiths, Rustom hopes to reach out to Muslims in the community and provide a medical experience that is in compliance with Islamic law. He filed a permit application with the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board in February.

However, a representative for the doctor acknowledges that the facility will not be able to follow Sharia law in totality due to conflict with federal law. One of the Islamic laws reportedly involves the separation of the sexes, but because of federal regulations, Rustom seeks to keep interaction “at a modest level” in order to make a compromise.

“We recognize that a health care facility that is fully compliant with Shariah law would likely violate a number of state and federal laws,” Robyn Fina, a project manager, told the publication.

Plans include creating a space for Muslim prayer and ritual washing, which would not be prohibited.

According to reports, gastroenterology, general surgery and treatment for pain management will be the central services offered at the facility, which would open in the former Plunkett Company furniture store.

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In recent years, a number of businesses across the nation and around the world have been seeking to be more Muslim-friendly. Whole Foods Market discussed its Saffron Road line of halal-certified prepared dinners on its official blog in 2011.

“In order to provide more options to people following a halal diet, Saffron Road has created the first line of certified halal frozen entrees and they’re currently only available here at Whole Foods Market,” it stated. “[A]ll of their products are certified halal by the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA). Whether you eat halal because of your religious dietary guidelines or you simply prefer to choose food that’s made with high-quality, responsibly farmed ingredients, then Saffron Road has some tasty offerings for you.”

The United Kingdom website for the popular sandwich chain Subway also outlines that meat in several locations is halal, and KFC ran a test in some of its English franchises to see if halal-compliant meals produced enough customer interest.

“[F]ollowing a strong demand from our Muslim customers, SUBWAY® stores in the UK and ROI introduced certified halal meats in specific stores,” the UK Subway site states. “When you see the symbol you can be reassured that only halal meats are served in that SUBWAY® store.”

In Chicago, Devon Bank offers Sharia-compliant mortgages, and at least two food-related businesses offer halal meats.

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