Life as a Muslim Medic

(A Transcript of a Lecture Delivered by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam Al-Kawthari)

The audio version of this lecture is available in the “audio/visual” section of our website, but the sound quality is somewhat poor. A sister (may Allah reward her efforts) transcribed the whole lecture using the audio clip for the benefit of those who are not able to understand the audio version properly. Please keep in mind that this is not a written article, but rather, a transcription of an oral piece, hence this would be reflected in the pages to follow. 


All praise is for Allah Most High, Lord of the worlds. And may peace and blessings be upon His beloved Messenger Muhammad, a Mercy to the worlds, and upon his entire family, his Companions and the righteous ones who follow in their footsteps until the Day of Judgment.

Assalamu Alaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

The topic of Medicine and the role of Medics is, without doubt, an extremely important topic. A very extensive topic in which many areas can be discussed at length. However, to cover this topic in the best possible manner, it can be looked upon and reviewed in two sections:

1) The importance, significance and relevance of Medicine in Islam, as well as the virtues of Medicine and Medics.

2) The duties and responsibilities of medics, doctors and those working in the field of Medicine.

Both these two areas require lengthy discussions in order to fully understand them. However, I will just summarize certain aspects that may be of benefit to us, Insha Allah.

The Importance of Medicine, and the Position of Medics in Islam

When we look at the Qur’an and Sunna, we find many verses and many sayings (hadiths) of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) that deal with the human body and the health of a human being. We know that Allah Most High, Our Lord and Creator, has given us our bodies.  The body of a human being is considered a trust (amana) given to him by Allah Most High. We do not own our own bodies; Allah owns our bodies. He is the Malik (the owner), and He does whatever He intends. Allah Most High says in the Qur’an:

فَعَّالٌ۬ لِّمَا يُرِيدُ
He is ever doer of what He intends” (Qur’an 85: 16)

So, Allah Most High has given us our bodies as a trust and He has honoured our bodies. Allah Most High says:

وَلَقَدۡ كَرَّمۡنَا بَنِىٓ ءَادَمَ
And verily We honoured the children of Adam” (Qur’an 17: 70)

The children of Adam (peace be upon him) have been honoured. So this body that we have, Allah has honoured it. This is the reason why it is sinful, wrong, unlawful and prohibited for a human being to cause and inflict harm upon himself. Allah Most High says:

وَلَا تُلۡقُواْ بِأَيۡدِيكُمۡ إِلَى ٱلتَّہۡلُكَةِ
And do not put yourselves into destruction” (Qur’an 2: 195)

Meaning: do not inflict harm to your own selves with your own hands. A human being (insan) does not own his own body, and therefore, is not able to do want he wants with his own body. Tampering with one’s own body is prohibited (haram) without the permission of Allah Most High. In a Hadith, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) prohibited mutilation and tampering with one’s own body (muthla).

As such, we have been given this body as a trust and a gift from Allah Most High. When somebody gives us something as a trust, then we ought to look after it. For example: If a person was to give me his car and say to me: “look after this car”, I will make sure  that I look after the car, preserve it, and ensure that nothing goes wrong with it. We are supposed to look after other people’s belongings more than our own belongings; even though some of us do not take care of other people’s belongings. Our body is a gift given to us by our Lord and Creator Allah Most High, so we must look after our bodies.

Moreover, preserving one’s health is considered to be one of the five universal principles or objectives of Islam. Maqasid al-Khams or Al-Kuliyyat al-Khams are the basic five objectives in Islam. First is the preservation of one’s religion, and number two, preservation of one’s own self. We have been given this responsibility by Allah Most High to look after our body and preserve its health. It is actually a responsibility to look after it. Just as it is an obligation to perform Salat, pay Zakat, perform Hajj, and carry out the other obligations (fara’id), it is obligatory, necessary, mandatory and compulsory upon every Muslim to take the means of looking after his/her body and preserve its health. Inflicting harm to oneself, as stated before, is unlawful in Islam. It is stated in a Hadith: “It is unlawful to inflict harm upon your self and others (la darar wa la dirar).” (Mustadrak of al-Hakim)

So, preserving one’s own health is one of the five objectives of Islam. This in itself shows the importance of Medicine, and the role of Medics and doctors in Islam. The job of a doctor, a medical expert, a practitioner is actually to uphold one of these five objectives of Islam. Hifz al-Nafs - which is preserving one’s life and health - is what Medics do.

As such, Medicine and Medics have a great position in Islam. One of the great scholars of our Ummah, Imam Shafi’i (may Allah have mercy on him) states in a very beautiful statement:

العلم علمان علم الفقه للاديان و علم الطب للابدان

Knowledge and Sciences that are really worth studying and learning are only two, one is worldly and the other related to the hereafter, but in reality both relate to the hereafter: First is “religious knowledge (ilmul fiqhi li ’l-adyan). The science of Islamic jurisprudence relates to your life in terms of how you practice Islam. It includes all the laws related to halal and haram, the rules of Salah, Zakat, Hajj, marriage, divorce, inheritance, business, etc. This is Islamic knowledge. The other knowledge and science worth studying is Medicine for the preservation of one’s body. 

This shows that according to Muslim scholars, the knowledge of Medicine is on a par and is equal to Islamic knowledge. A Faqih (jurist - the one who masters fiqh) and a Tabib (doctor) have the same position and rank within Islam. It must be remembered, however, that as with everything, we have to do things in the correct way. If a scholar is studying and teaching but does not have the right intention, does not do things the right way, rather than benefiting people he deviates them, and he does not do things in accordance with the teachings of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), then without doubt it will be of no benefit to him. This scholar, his work, his service for Islam, rather than getting reward, he will get punished for it. Likewise, the same rule applies to a doctor. In order for a doctor to have a high status and Maqam with Allah Most High, he must do things in the right way. This will be clarified later in the second section, Insha Allah.

Imam Shafi’i (may Allah have mercy on him) also said: “I am not aware of anything, besides the knowledge of Halal and Haram (ilm al-halal wa ‘l-haram, i.e. Islamic knowledge) nobler than the knowledge of Medicine.”

The reason behind this is simple: Every human is in need of medicine. Whether you are rich, poor, old, young, male, female, Muslim, non-Muslim, whoever, wherever, at some point in your life you need medicine. We all need medicine, as we all become ill at some point in our lives. So Medicine and medics preserve people’s lives, and this science is actually a means of people doing good for Islam. If you are healthy and your health is preserved, you will be able to worship Allah more, and you will be able to dedicate your life more for Islam. If a person is ill or sick, he cannot even worship Allah properly, and he is not able to carry out his religious duties in a proper manner. Good health is actually a gift (ni’ma) from Most High. There is a famous Hadith in which the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

“There are two gifts [given by Allah] regarding whom many people are deceived, [and they do not realise the importance of these two things whilst they have it]. One is health, and the other is free time.” When you get really busy, that is when you realise the value of free time. Likeswise, when you are ill, that is when you realise how great the gift of health was. This is why some scholars use to say it (Arabic proverb): “Well-being or good health (a’fiya) is actually a crown that is worn by healthy people. However, this crown is only seen by the ill people.”

Good health is one of the greatest and most amazing gifts Allah can give us. When a man becomes blind, that is when he realises what a true gift sight was. We do not realise the value of the gifts bestowed upon us by Allah Most High.

Health is something that is beloved to Allah Most High and His Messenger (Allah bless him & give him peace). We have been ordered and commanded to ask Allah for good health (sihha) and well-being (a’fiya). There is a Hadith in which the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

ما سئل الله شيئا أحب إليه من العافية

“No body asks Allah for anything more beloved to Him than well-being.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi)

We make dua and we supplicate, we ask Allah for all our needs, but the most beloved thing to Allah is that we ask him for well-being (a’fiya), because Allah wants us to be healthy. But then you might ask the question, why do we become ill? That is another separate topic altogether. Sometimes it is a test, and sometimes it is purification of our sins. When the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) would go to visit the ill and sick people, he use to say:

لا بأس طهور إن شاء الله

“Don’t worry it is okay, it is purification by the Will of Allah.”

There are many reasons and wisdoms for illness. Allah probably wants the ill person to ask and turn to Him, since when he is healthy he forgets Allah Most High. It is the nature of a human being to do this. When you’re healthy, you do not remember Allah. It is only when we become ill and sick, we make a liot of duas. Some people do not even remember Allah when they are ill. If one does not remember Allah when he is ill and sick, then that is dangerous. If we do not remember Allah when we really need Him, then I do not know when we will remember Allah. So, we have been ordered to ask Allah for well-being and good health. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) once saw his uncle Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) and said:

يا عم سل الله العفو والعافية في الدنيا والاخره

“Oh uncle, ask Allah forgiveness and well-being (a’fiya) in this world and the hereafter. A’fiya is a unique word that implies good health, well being and a good state. There is a famous dua which we should include in our regular supplications. It is a dua that our beloved Messenger (Allah bless him & give him peace) prescribed for us:

“Allahumma inni as-aluka, as-sihhata, wal iffata, wa’ l-amanata wa husunul khuluqi wa’ l-ridhaa bi ’l-qadr”

“Oh Allah, I ask of you good health, chastity, trustworthiness, good manners and to be content with destiny.”

Asking Allah for good manners is also part of this dua. Some Ulema, such as Imam Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya, mention in their books that good manners and health are related to one another. When a person is healthy, he is good and well mannered; he is always smiling, he is nice and kind, and is able to exercise patience. But when a person is stressed or depressed or when a person is ill and sick, then automatically he becomes sour in his treatment of others and becomes grumpy.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) used to make this supplication. This means he has encouraged us to also make this dua, since we are ordered to follow in his footsteps. In the Qur’an Allah says:

لَّقَدۡ كَانَ لَكُمۡ فِى رَسُولِ ٱللَّهِ أُسۡوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ۬

“There is indeed a good model for you in the Messenger of Allah”
(Qur’an 33:21)

The last part of this du’aa is to be content with destiny (qadar). Being content with the destiny of Allah is again related, because if you are ill or sick and you supplicate to Allah with the following: Oh Allah, I am asking you for health, I am asking you for well-being, I am asking you for good character, and good manners, but if I am ill and sick I am still content with your destiny. You are content with whatever Allah Most High has predestined for you and you do not complain.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) says in a Hadith:

من اصبح معافا في بدنه، امنا في سربه عنده قوت يومه فكأنما حيزت له الدنيا

“Whoever wakes up in the morning having health in his body, is safe and secure in his house, and has one day’s provision of food; it is as though the whole world has been given to him. (Sunan at-Tirmidhi)

In this Hadith, it has been stated that the person only has provision for one day. This is what Islam teaches us and this is how the Sahaba (May Allah be pleased with them all) lived. Anyone with the provision for one day was not considered to be a poor person. They would not think about tomorrow. We should live each day as it comes. I am not saying that we should not think about tomorrow at all, but we need to realise that this life is very temporary. Don’t plan for four-hundred years! The way we deal with this world, sometimes, is as if we will be living here for eternity. Do not live here as if you will be here for eternity, it is just a matter of 40/50/60 years, and then we have to go to the eternal life in the hereafter. A person who has one day’s provision, it is as though the whole world has been given to him. If you have health, one day’s food and you have a nice secure place and you are safe in your house, regardless of whether you have rented the property or bought the property, it is as though you have been given everything in the world. The word ‘hizat’ in the Hadith means: the whole world is gathered and given to you in your lap.

So, health and well being is something very important in Islam. It is beloved to Allah, Our Lord and Creator. He has ordered us to ask for this and make dua all the time. It is beloved to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) as well. Health is a ni’ma (gift) given to us by Allah Most High. These are the reasons why the science of Medicine has been given a great and prestigious position in Islam. This also shows that Medicine is one of the most honourable and noblest professions a person can undertake. Therefore those studying this science, do not do it merely for the sake of money or having a career. Rather, the profession and occupation of being a doctor is sich that through it you can acquire Paradise and the pleasure of Allah. Do not take it lightly, the numerous years that you have to study, think that this will help you attain the pleasure of Allah - success of this world as well as the hereafter, Insha Allah.

There are also many Hadiths of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) that talk about actual medication and resorting to treatment.  There is a Hadith, for example, in the Sahih of Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim, related by Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:  

ما أنزل الله داء الاّ أنزل له شفاء

“Allah has not revealed any illness (meaning Allah has not created any illness), except that He has created a remedy/cure for it.”

Some of the villagers once came to the Messenger (Allah bless him & give him peace) and said: Oh Messenger of Allah, shall we just rely on Allah (tawakkul) or shall we use and resort to medication?” The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: 

 

: نعم يا عباد الله تداووا فان الله عز وجل لم يضع داء إلا وضع له شفاء غير داء واحد ، قالوا : ما هو ؟؟ قال : الهرم

“Yes! O servants of Allah, use medication/resort to medication. [This is a command (amr) in the Arabic language. If we do not have doctors, how can we resort to medication? In order to implement this command of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), we need people of medicine; we need people who are experts in this field]. Allah Most High has not created any illness, except that He has created a cure for it, except for one illness [i.e. one situation and one condition of the human body]. They asked, “O Messenger of Allah (Allah have mercy on him) what is that? He said, “Old age.”

There is no cure for old age. No matter how much make up you put on your face, how much cosmetic surgery you have, there is no cure for it. People need to learn to age gracefully. We see people in their 50’s and 60’s having one face lift after another. Islam teaches us to accept the fact that we are 60 and not 25. This is why cosmetic surgery for the purpose of beautification is not allowed. We must be happy and content with that which Allah has given us. If you have some sort of abnormality, then Islam allows cosmetic surgery to repair the damage or that abnormality. However, sadly, people are not happy with their own bodies; they wish they had eyes like this and a nose like that.  External beauty is just temporary beauty. Islam talks about the real internal beauty of the heart. The outer beauty is just brief, and it goes away. You might look at a girl and think wow! You might be eying her up because she has make up all over her. Go and look at her in the morning when she wakes up, how she looks? That is not what beauty is, beauty is of the character and manner and of the heart.

So, there is no cure for ageing. Real beauty is when you look at an old Muslim woman who has grown in Islam, given birth to children, performed her Salat, paid Zakat, performed Hajj, looked after her husband and children; on this old 60- 65 year old Muslim woman’s face, Nur and light will be visible. This is real beauty. She is old but she has light on her face. This Nur that Allah gives, no make up, no cream and no surgery can be a substitute for it. That is what Allah says in the Qur’an:

سِيمَاهُمۡ فِى وُجُوهِهِم مِّنۡ أَثَرِ ٱلسُّجُودِۚ

“Their distinguishing feature is on their faces from the effect of prostration”
(Qur’an 48:29)

Meaning, those that worship and obey Allah, the sign of their obedience to Allah is in their faces. It is not a physical light, not a colour; rather Nor Created by Allah. This is real beauty Allah has given us.

Duties and Responsibilities of Medics and those working within this field:

In the previous section, we concluded that Islam lays great importance on Medicine. As such, there are certain things that medics must remember, and I want go through them, one by one, point by point, Insha Allah. In total, there are nine things that a medic or doctor must keep in mind: These points are not restricted to medics, they have a general application. However, they relate more to doctors and medical practitioners:

1)  Correct your Intention (tashih al-niyya)

We learnt that Medicine holds a prestigious position in Islam, and that doctors have a great maqam. Doctors are just like religious scholars. Imam Shafi’i mentioned “Ilm al-Fiqh (knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence)” and “Ilm al-Tibb (knowledge of medicine)”, meaning a religious scholar (faqih) and a doctor (tabib) are on the same level. But this also means that same conditions and rules would apply to both.

In order for a scholar to be a scholar in the sight of Allah Most High, he must be a God-fearing scholar. Allah Most High says in the Qur’an:

إِنَّمَا يَخۡشَى ٱللَّهَ مِنۡ عِبَادِهِ ٱلۡعُلَمَـٰٓؤُاْۗ

“Only those of His slaves fear Allah who are knowledgeable”
(Quran 35:28)

Those who fear Allah are the real scholars. If you have a scholar that has knowledge but does not fear Allah, he is not a true scholar. You can have a Christian professor of Islamic studies; his knowledge of “al-asma’ wa‘l-rijal (science of critically analysing the reporters of Hadith)” can be immense, but he is not even a Muslim. Knowledge of Islam (ilm) is not just information; it is much more than that. What benefit is the knowledge of Islam if that knowledge does not even make you a Muslim? If you want to be a scholar, you have to also fear Allah, act upon what you preach, and act upon what you know. Likewise, your intention should be correct. Your intention is for Allah.

Similarly doctors and medics, remembering that doctors and scholars are on a par, the first point for them is “tashih al-niyya” i.e. they must correct their intentions. The first Hadith of Sahih al-Bukhari is regarding correcting one’s intention. Many famous scholars of Hadith start their works with this Hadith. The reason being they begin with this Hadith is because they want to correct their own intention, i.e. O Allah; I am compiling this book of Hadith only for your pleasure, only for your sake, not for anybody else.

Sayyiduna Umar (Allah be pleased with him) said, Once the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) stood on the pulpit and said:

إِنَّمَا الأَعْمَالُ بِالنِّيَّاتِ، وَإِنَّمَا لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ مَا نَوَى،

“Verily actions are according to intentions, and every human being receives and obtains that which he has intended.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)

If your intention is to make money, you will get your money and nothing else. If your intention is to have a career, nice position, nice mansion, nice house, nice car and a nice family around you, and that’s it, then you will get that and nothing else.

However, if your intention, along with the financial gains in the world, is to please Allah Most High, you want to serve humanity, you want to serve the creation of Allah, you want to help people, then you will get the rewards in the hereafter. As of now, if you have not already changed your intention, please change it now. It is so simple; this worldly act will become an Islamic act. Just change the perspective and outlook in your brain, mind and thoughts. You will do everything the same, you will come to university every day, you will study in the same manner, but you have just changed your perspective, you have only changed the way you look at things. And make dua to Allah that O Allah, I am doing this for your sake, I want to serve humanity, I want to do something fruitful in life, I want to gain your pleasure, then through this profession and career you will enter paradise, Insha Allah. You will get so much reward, because doctor’s rewards are great with Allah. This is a great position, but very delicate. It is make or break: if you do it the right way, there is a lot of reward. However, if you do it the wrong way, there will be a lot of sin and punishment. There is no middle way, so correct your intentions, bothers and sisters.

Now, what intention should one have? Two things come to mind, which are both related: Khidmat al-Khalq (serving humanity and the creation of Allah), and secondly, having mercy, love and concern for the creation of Allah. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) says:

من نفس عن مؤمن كربة من كرب الدنيا ، نفس الله عنه كربة من كرب يوم القيامة

“Whoever removes a calamity from a believer [this is general, whether the person is a Muslim or non-Muslim] of the calamities (hardships and difficulties) of the world [in your case, a doctor removes the patient’s bad health or illness), then Allah will remove from him a hardship from the hardships of the hereafter.” (Sahih Muslim)

Allah used you as a means of helping someone regain their health. In return, Allah will remove a calamity of the calamities of the hereafter and the trials and tribulations of the hereafter.

There is another Hadith, in which the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

والله في عون العبد ماكان العبد في عون اخيه

“Allah is in the help and assistance of his servant as long as the servant is in the assistance of his brother.”

These two Hadiths indicates two things: 1) removing a calamity from another. 2) Being in the service, and fulfilling the need (hajah) of a human being. These two things are greatly encouraged in Islam.

We receive a lot of reward in alleviating someone’s distress, difficulty, hardship, or removing their hardship, or fulfilling the need of somebody. Fulfilling somebody’s need and helping somebody fight against a calamity and removing somebody’s difficulty will only happen because of one thing: Having mercy and love for the creation of Allah. We have been ordered in Islam to love the creation of Allah Most High - human Beings as well as animals. And loving the creation of Allah is actually loving Allah Himself. It is through the love of Allah, you will love His creation, because Allah loves his creation. Allah Most High created His creation and hence has love for His creation. This has actually been mentioned in a Hadith. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

الخلق عيال الله فاحب الخلق الي الله من احسن الي عياله

“Creation are Allah’s dependants, the most beloved creation to Allah is the one who is good to His dependants.”

In Islam we have been commanded and encouraged to have mercy on the creation of Allah Most High. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

الراحمون يرحمهم الرحمن، ارحموا من في الأرض يرحمكم من في السماء

“The merciful are shown mercy by the All-Merciful. Have mercy to those on earth, and the Lord of the Heavens will have mercy upon you.” (Sunan Abi Daud)

(This Hadith has been termed by the scholars as  Hadith Musalsal bi ‘l-Awwaliyya, i.e. each reporter in the chain heard this Hadith as being the first from his Shaykh).

Loving the creation of Allah is actually loving Allah Most High. The famous Arab poet, Majnun, who was mad over Layla, used to say in his poetry: “I go into the town and city of Layla, and I pass by the walls in the town of layla. I kiss this wall and I kiss that wall. It is not that I love these walls, but it is because of the love of the one who dwells and lives within these walls.

If Allah is beloved to us, then we will love everything created by Him. Always have mercy and kindness within the heart for the creation of Allah. In Sahih al-Bukhari it is related that a woman was a prostitute but she was forgiven. The reason behind this was that once she was walking and she saw a thirsty dog trying to find some water, and was just licking some sand. She removed her leather sock and went to the well, took water out and gave it to the dog. Due to this act of mercy, she was forgiven.

When treating patients, you must have this concern that this is the creation of Allah Most High. Treat the patient with the correct intention. The intention should be that you are serving humanity, serving the creation of Allah. Have mercy. Don’t just make this a means of earning money; you will get your money anyway, but that should be secondary. Your main and primary aim and objective must be serving the creation of Allah, helping humanity, trying to help people regain their health and trying to remove calamities from individuals and the creation of Allah, Insha Allah.

2) Study well and be experts in your field

When you have come this far to become a Medic, do not waste your time. Time is very precious. It is a gift given to us by Allah. Do not spend lots of time relaxing and chilling out; take your studies seriously and be experts in your field by working hard. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) has said in a Hadith:

ايما طبيب تطبب على قوم لا يعرف له تطبب قبل ذلك فأعنت فهو ضامن

“Any doctor who starts prescribing medicine for his people [i.e. starts the practice of medicine], whilst he was not known to have the knowledge of Medicine before that, and he makes a mistake, then he will be held responsible.” (Sunan Abi Dawud)

In the books of Fiqh, there is actually a whole discussion on this point. A medical practitioner must have the correct qualifications. You have to have that what is customarily considered to be the qualification or the degree of the time you are living in. If somebody does not have the qualifications and is not an expert in his field, then it is haram and sinful for him to start practicing Medicine.

Imam Ibn Qudama, one of the Hanbali jurists, discusses this at length in one of his books, he says: “If a doctor does not possess the necessary qualifications, knowledge, and expertise, and then he transgresses, he will be held responsible.” In other words, a doctor must have the expertise, the knowledge, and necessary qualifications within the field of Medicine. If a person is aware that despite having a qualification, he does not know his stuff properly, then it is actually wrong for him to practice Medicine. So Medics must work hard.

3) Treat everyone equally

All patients must be treated alike, keeping in mind that they are all the creation of Allah Most High. Nobody has extra value. We have to treat everyone equally.  Every patient that comes to you, he/she has to be treated equally, whether it is your relative, non-relative, friend or enemy. Do not give your enemy an injection so that he dies quickly! Muslims and non-Muslims must all be treated equally.

4) Always keep focused on Allah

This is actually a point of Aqida. We have to always keep in mind that medicine and medication is just a means, and hence it is not effective in of itself. It is a cause (sabab), and the one who created this cause is Allah Most High. In the earlier times when Muslim doctors would prescribe medication, they used to write at the top of the prescription:

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم ـ هو الشافي

“In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful. It is He who is the actual Healer”

It is through the actual doing of Allah Most High that people are cured. We can resort to medicine all our lives, but if Allah does not want to cure somebody, then that person will never be cured. You have to keep focused and make dua to Allah. When you are doing an operation, for example, start with the name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, Most Merciful. Do not just look at the material things in the world that we have in front of us. Always do everything in the name of Allah. Even when a patient comes for advice, start off in your own mind with “bismillah” – O Allah, let me say that which is beneficial, O Allah, inspire me to the truth, inspire me towards that which is beneficial to this servant and creation of yours, and patient of mine.

5) Give Glad-tidings

Whenever a patient comes to you, always give them glad tidings. This is one of the etiquettes (adab) of visiting the sick. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) used to say when visiting the sick:

لا بأس طهور إن شاء الله

“Don’t worry; it is purification for you, by the Will of Allah”

When a patient comes to you, give them glad tidings. Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

إذا دخلتم على المريض فنفسوا له في الأجل

“When you enter upon a patient, give him glad tidings regarding his life.”

Meaning say to him, don’t worry, you will live, don’t worry, all will be fine. Do not go up to a patient saying I had a patient just like you who died today! Meet your patients and speak to them with words of comfort. Give glad tidings, without deceiving them of course. There are ways of saying things, there are ways of addressing the situation, always try to be cheerful, you will be rewarded for it. Be cheerful, be gentle, be upbeat, be happy about the situation in the right way. Try to give your patients hope in life.

6) Confidentiality

This point is extremely important regardless of being a doctor. Keeping secrets and keeping the private information regarding the patient confidential is very important. The Messenger of Allah (Allah have mercy on him) said:

المستشار مؤتمن

“The one from whom advice is sought [i.e. the one whom people consult] is a trustworthy person.”

This is in important for both doctors and scholars, who are confided about many things.  People’s issues are confidential, and it is haram and sinful to talk about the secret issues of other people. 

For example, a person has aids; you cannot go around telling people that he has aids. Indeed, like with everything, there are exceptions to this general ruling and the fuqaha (jurists) have discussed this in detail. An example of an exception is when a sister or the family of the sister approach you in regards to the health of a potential spouse. Here, you will have to tell them the truth, or just remain silent.

So, there are certain situations where you can disclose information, but generally, keeping people’s secrets to yourself and keeping them private and confidential is absolutely necessary.

7) Avoid the Haram

The profession of a “Medic” is very delicate indeed; hence a medic can very easily commit an unlawful act, especially for a gynaecologist, or somebody who has to deal with the patient’s private parts, or sensitive and delicate areas of the body.

Likewise, a doctor must be very precautious about interaction with the opposite sex. Generally every Muslim has to be precautious, but specifically doctors and medical practitioners. Patients will share their personal information with you; you will know things about them, so don’t abuse your position. Do not use your position to abuse people and transgress the limits ordained by Allah Most High. We have to be very careful of many things such as Khlawa (being in privacy with somebody of the opposite gender). In general, this is haram. Again, this is a whole topic discussed by the Ulema - male treating the female, female treating the male, when it is permitted and when it is not permitted. Can a female patient resort to a male doctor while she has a female expert available? The male doctor for a female patient will need to have female nurse present and female practitioners available to treat the delicate areas of a female’s body. These are rules in Islam that we must learn about. Based on the principle: “necessities make prohibitions lawful” there are many concessions given in the medical field.

Also, anything that is made permissible because of an actual need is restricted to that actual need. A doctor must be very careful as to how he interacts. Do not go beyond the limits and do not discuss that which you do not need to discuss. If a female patient comes and discusses certain issues, do not start asking more and being all nosy. Do not try and know everything about her! It is restricted to the actual need. If somebody needs treatment, do not touch areas of the body that do not require touching, and do not ask the patient to expose the body more than what is needed.

Try to keep your gaze as low as possible. Think about accountability to Allah. Think every action and act of ours; we will be responsible and accountable for it in front of Allah of the day of Judgement.

8) Spiritual Treatment

Along with the physical treatment and medication, try to treat the patient spiritually. Always talk to them about Islam. Attempt to treat their soul as well. However this will require that we treat our own souls first, and that we have a bit of knowledge of Islam.

When a non-Muslim patient comes to you, talk to them about Islam. When a Muslim patient comes to you, say this is something that is a test from Allah Most High, that your sins are being forgiven. Talk to them about Islam, Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him & give him peace). In this way, you will become a doctor of the physical body as well as a doctor of the spiritual heart. Do not just restrict your treatment to the physical body, generalise the treatment to the soul and heart also.

9) Learn the Fiqh of Medicine

This is the most important point of all. There are many things that a Medic must learn in regards to the laws (fiqh) of medicine. A Medical practitioner must learn the Islamic injunctions that relate to his profession. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

طلب العلم فريضة علي كل مسلم

“Seeking of knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim”

This does not mean that every male and female should become a scholar of Hadith. The scholars and commentators of Hadith explain that knowledge is of two types: one is Fard Kifaya, which means that it is a collective obligation. Having a deep understanding of the sciences of Islam, the Qur’an, Sunna Hadith, Fiqh, the Arabic language, etc is the responsibility of a handful of people. They will fulfil this obligation, and through them, the obligation will be removed from everybody else. However, seeking of knowledge to the extent that it relates to your profession, your life, your job, is personally obligatory. We need to perform Salat, so we have to learn about the rulings connected to it. If we have to pay Zakat, we need to learn the injunctions related to it. If I am going to do business, then I must learn about the rules of business and trade in Islam.

When Sayyiduna Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) became a Khalifa, he announced a verdict saying: “Whoever does not learn the fiqh of business, his entry to our markets is forbidden.” If you want to enter the market to do business, then you must spend time learning the fiqh of business, finance and trade.

Likewise doctors, Islamically speaking, must learn the rules connected to medicine otherwise the other points cannot be put into practice. It is very important that you learn, since there are many things that you will need know the Islamic viewpoint regarding them.

These were some nine points that should be kept in mind by the medics. May Allah Most High make the path easy for all Medics and bless them with whatever they want to achieve in life. May Allah give us all good in this world and the hereafter. Allah bless us with health and well being, Ameen.