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Ar-Rahman Mosque’s Methadone Program

Photographer: Ahmad Yusni

 

The Ar-Rahman mosque in Bangsar district of Kuala Lumpur is a working religious mosque for devout Muslims but also site of the world's first methadone program to operate from a mosque, an unusual test program to help drug addicts and cure them of their addictions mixing faith and treatment.

 

Chosen as the site for the program from among some 6,000 mosques in Malaysia, the Ar-Rahman mosque, built in 1962, hosts the drug rehabilitation program run by Dr Rusdi Abdul Rashid, chief coordinator of University of Malaya's Center of Addiction Sciences.

 

The project involves the supply of methadone to assist drug addicts in their medication therapy. Methadone is a synthetic opioid and used widely to treat addiction to narcotics. Each patient pays 15 Malaysian ringgit (4,90 USD) a week to participate and receive methadone syrup twice weekly from a pharmacist from Malaysia's Health Department and they are seen by a doctor each week.

 

The program was given the green light in 2010 after successful negotiations with the mosque committee and Islamic religious councils to allow a treatment center to be held within such a holy place. During the program, the patients are led in a spiritual and practical way, and encouraged to pray before the start of their session which involves meeting with a doctor and getting a dose of methadone.

 

The project has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO). The successes of the project lead to two similar programs to open at two other mosques in Malaysia. There are about 350,000 drugs addicts in the Muslim-majority country.