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Al-Sheikh, Basil

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Journal of Family and Community Medicine: Sep–Dec 2003 - Volume 10 - Issue 3 - p 17-18
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Medicine is a noble profession which Allah exalted and bestowed on Jesus (p.b.u.h.) in his miracles. The practice of medicine is also an Islamic obligation and a form of worship. Allah's signs in His creatures [and also (there are signs) in your ownselves will you not then see?] Ch. 51 V.21.(1)

What makes Islam unique is the fact that it is a method of guiding mankind. Its canons and teachings guide and direct all areas of human activity and endeavor. Man is honored by its wisdom (Verily, we have honored the children of Adam) Al Isra V. 70. Islam protects man from all ignominy and lack of purpose by providing the means of engaging his entire being and giving him peace. The message of Islam is the message of mercy for the whole of mankind [And We have sent thee not, (O Mohammad) but as a Mercy for all creatures] Ch. 21 V. 107.

The most important distinguishing mark of a Muslim doctor is his adherence to its principles and mode of conduct. The Muslim doctor should be a true believer in the oneness of Allah; be aware of His power over disease and its cure, have a firm belief that all life is from Allah; He gives it and it is He who can take it away. The Muslim doctor derives guidance for his behavior from the traditions of prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.).

In the first Century of Islam, the medical profession went through a period of mimicing contemporary civilizations of the time. In the second Century, as the Islamic world's understanding of other civilizations grew through encouragment of translations, medicine became one of its important spheres of knowledge. In the third Century, as Islamic civilization prospered, medical professionals rode on the chest of influence by virtue of their distinguished scientific achievements in establishing methods of scientific research guided by Islamic rules and principles and thus bringing into being the title of Islamic Medicine.

The challenges of the globalization that the medical professionals in Muslim countries face now do not differ from those of our forebears who in their wisdom were very selective in their choices, taking what they found consistent with their own Islamic values and rejecting what was incompatible. They also gave Europe the wealth of their civilization at a time when Europe was still in the dark ages.

For a century, medical practice once again went into a period of stagnation, during which Muslim countries merely emulated what was happening elsewhere. This occurred at a time when Muslim Ummah had lost its position of leadership and had gone into a period of intellectual decline, poverty and disease while western culture made inroads into the fabric of Muslim societies. Currently medical practice in Muslim countries is strongly influenced by the Western method of medical practice that ignored the importance of its spiritual values. Actions that were contrary to Islamic deals were taken, ignoring the privacy of the patient, and the special needs of the female Muslim doctor. While ignoring their own Islamic duties, some doctors were unperturbed by the fact that patients in hospitals do not perform their obligatory prayers. It is unfortunate that a doctor should fail to administer Shahadah to a dying patient. Doctors seem to have lost their vocation. Muslim doctors and the medical practice no longer have the mark of Islamic discipline. In the wake of the technological advancement that has affected all spheres of modern life come the unavoidable challenges of globalization.

To meet these challenges, doctors in the Islamic world must have common objectives based on Islamic teachings. There should be a sustained effort to develop the personality of a Muslim doctor. Medical colleges should ensure that their curricula incorporate the teaching of “medical ethics and jurisprudence” from an Islamic perspective. Teaching hospitals must come together to formulate programmes that would ensure that clinical training and practice of doctors are designed with clear Islamic principles in mind to prepare them for the proper discharge of their duties towards their patients.1


(1). . Islamic code of medical practice1st International Conference on Islamic MedicineKuwait
© 2003 Journal of Family and Community Medicine | Published by Wolters Kluwer – Medknow