Islamic Code of Medical Ethics

Islamic Code of Medical Ethics

Current progress in medical and life sciences has acquired revolutionary features and heralds breath taking developments in medical technology and human engineering. Like any force, biosciences need to be harnessed for the welfare of humanity, and be so guided as never to stray to be a destructive power, as happened to nuclear fission in the near past.

In the wake of application of modern discoveries in human reproduction, heredity, recombinant DNA and synthesis of behaviour-influencing drugs, our generation is witnessing a radical shaking of our heritage of moral values and codes of behaviour.

In an attempt to keep human knowledge on the proper track prescribed by God as HE declared Man as HIS viceroy on this planet, colonizing earth, searching for God’s laws and putting them to beneficial use, this document was submitted to the First International Conference on Islamic Medicine held in Kuwait at the onset of the Fifteenth Hijri Century (6-10 Rabie A wal 1401: 12-16 January 1981). The document was endorsed by that conference as the Islamic Code of Medical Ethics.

The adoption of this document by all medical bodies in the Islamic world is hoped to be an area we converge upon in these times when there is so much that diverges us.

Every Muslim doctor will hopefully find in it the guiding light to maintain his professional behaviour within the boundaries of Islamic teachings.
Medical and paramedical students should find in it a window over the future, so that they enter their professional life conversant with what to do and what to avoid, well prepared to face pressures or temptations or uncertainties.

To medical scientists it subserves the function of rudder to the ship directing their efforts to harness science and technology only to the welfare of humanity but not to its danger or destruction.

We are confident that non-Muslim colleagues will also see in it a reflection of what God wishes man to tie, and to do.
It is in God that we trust. . and Him that we seek guidance from.

Definition of Medical Profession

“THERAPEUSIS” is a noble Profession God honoured it by making it the miracle of Jesus son of Mary. Abraham enumerating his Lord’s gifts upon him included “and if I fall ill He cures me”.

Like all aspects of knowledge, medical knowledge is part of the knowledge of God’ ‘who taught man what man never knew”. The study of Medicine entails the revealing of God’s signs in His creation”. And in yourselves do you not see’?

The practice of Medicine brings God’s mercy unto His subjects. Medical practice is therefore an act of worship and charity on top of being a career to make a living.

But God’s mercy is as accessible to all people including good and evil, virtuous and vicious and friend and foe as are the rays of His sun, the comfort of His breeze, the coolness of His water and the bounty of His provision. And upon this basis must the medical profession operate, along the single track of God’s mercy, never adversive and never punitive, never taking justice as its goal but mercy, under whatever situations and circumstances.

In this respect the medical profession is unique. It shall never yield to social pressures motivated by enmity or feud be it personal, political or military. Enlightened statesmanship will do good by preserving the integrity of the medical profession and protecting its position beyond enmity or hostility.

The provision of medical practice is a religious dictate upon the community, ‘Fardh Kifaya’, that can be satisfied on behalf of the community by some citizens taking up medicine. It is the duty of the state to ensure the needs of the nation to doctors in the various needed specialties. In Islam, this is a duty that the ruler owes the nation. Need may arise to import from afar such medical expertise that is not locally available. It is the duty of the State to satisfy this need. It also behoves the State to recruit suitable candidates from the nation’s youth to be trained as doctors. An ensuing duty therefore is to establish relevant schools, faculties, clinics, hospitals and institutions that are adequately equipped and manned to fulfill that purpose.

‘Medicine’, is a religious necessity for society. In religious terms, whatever is necessary to satisfy that “necessity” automatically acquires the status of a , ‘necessity’, Exceptions shall therefore be made from certain general rules of jurisprudence for the sake of making medical education possible. One such example is the intimate inspection of the human body whether alive or dead, without in any way compromising the respect befitting the human body in life and death, and always in a climate of piety and awareness of the presence of God.

The preservation of man’s life should embrace also the utmost regard to his dignity, feelings, tenderness and the privacy of his sentiments and body parts. A patient is entitled to full attention, care and feeling of security while with his doctor. The doctor’s privilege of being exempted from some general rules is only coupled with more responsibility and duty that he should carry out in conscientiousness and excellence in observing God. Excellence that entails that you worship God as if you see Him. For even though you don’t see Him, He sees you:

Al-Ghazali considered the profession of medicine as (fardh – Kifaya), a duty on society that some of its members can carry in lieu of the whole. This is natural since the need of health is a primary need and not a anything in life remains enjoyable.

That it is permissible for the purpose of treatment to look at hidden and private parts of the body, derives from the rule of jurisprudence ‘necessities override prohibitions’ and complies with the Ooranic excuse when “compelled to do something but without ill- intention”. Since the early days of Islam the Lady- Healer’s corps joined the Prophet’s army to battle caring for the casualties and dressing their wounds on whatever part of the body. This provoked no dispute or divergence of opinion.

To import medical expertise and to treat Muslims by non-Muslim physicians should be decided only by the condition of the patient and the capability of the doctor.

Since an early time the Muslim State employed Christian doctors from Jundishapur and treated them Very generously. In this context it is also worthy remembering that the Prophet’s guide on the journey of Hijra was Abdullah Ibn Uraikit, a non-Muslim, chosen by the Prophet on account.

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