|Islamic Code Of Medical Professional Ethics|
|Written by Abdul Rahman C. Amine, M.D. and Ahmed Elkadi, M.D.|
Medicine was defined by Muslim physicians such as Al-Razi (841)-926 A.D.) and Ibn Sina (Avicenna, 980-1036 A.D.) as the art concerned with the preservation of good health, combating of disease, and restoration of health to the sick. For several centuries, the world has witnessed and benefited from the great advances made by Muslim physicians in the area of health sciences. These advances were not just based non technical skill or intellectual superiority. They were equally well founded on a clear understanding of the role of the Muslim physician as derived from Islamic teachings and philosophy. For thousands of years, ethics have been recognized as an essential requirement in the making of a physician. Although the ancient codes of ethics have to some extent stressed this requirement, they were still deficient and contained grave errors. Contemporary codes of ethics tend to be more liberal and less restrictive. The Qur'anic ethics, on the other hand, stand out as a perfect model for all mankind, all professions, and all time.
The following verses from the Qur'an are most suited as guide for the personal characteristics of the physician. "Luqman admonished his son: 'My son', he said 'Serve no god besides God for idolatry is an abominable injustice. We have enjoined man to show kindness to his parents, for with much pain does his mother bear him, and he is not weaned before he is two years of age. We said: Give thanks to Me and to your parents: to Me shall all things return. But if they press you to serve besides me what you know nothing of, do not obey them, be kind to them in this world and follow the path of those who submit to Me; to Me you shall all return and I will declare to you all that you have done. 'My son, God will know about all things be they as small as a grain of mustard seed, be they hidden inside a rock or in heaven or on earth. God is wise and all-knowing. My son, establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just and forbid what is wrong; endure with fortitude whoever befalls you, for this is firmness of purpose in the conduct of affairs. Do not treat men with scorn nor walk proudly on the earth; God does not love the arrogant boaster. Rather, let your gait be modest and your voice low; the harshest of voices is the braying of the ass'."
God also says:
God further states:
Based on the above, the Muslim physician must believe in God and in Islamic teachings and practice, both in private and public life. He must be grateful to his parents, teachers, and elders. He must be humble, modest, kind, merciful, patient, and tolerant. He must follow the paths of the righteous and always seek God's support.
God also states:
Therefore the believer is encouraged to always seek knowledge.
The physician must also abide by the legal rules regulating his profession provided they do not violate Islamic teachings. The need to respect law and order is reflected in the following, verse:
Recognizing God as the maker and the owner of both patient and physician, it is only logical that the care provided by the physician to his patient must be in accordance with God's guidelines.
He also says:
God further states:
The physician therefore has no right to terminate any human life under his care. This also applies to the unborn baby since clear evidence indicates that human life starts at the time of conception. Consequently, the physician has no right to terminate the life of the unborn baby unless it constitutes a definite threat to the mother's life.
Qur'an: 7/157This implies that anything forbidden by God must be bad or harmful; anything proven to be bad or harmful must be forbidden.
The humanitarian aspect of the medical profession must never be neglected. The physician must render the needed help regardless of the financial ability or ethnic origin of the patient. A beautiful hint is found in the following Qur'anic verses:
When entrusted with the care of a patient, the physician must offer the needed advice With consideration for both the patient's body and mind, always remembering his basic obligation to enjoin what is just and forbid what is wrong.
The physician must adopt an appropriate manner of communication and be reminded of the ethics of speech referred to in the Qur'anic verses quoted earlier in this paper. God also describes the good believers in the Qur'an and says:
Situations requiring, the physician to examine patients of the opposite sex are always a test of his moral character and his strength. A basic instruction is found in the following Qur'anic verses:
God further says:
It is therefore advisable that the physician examine patients of the opposite sex in the presence of a third person whenever feasible. This will be an added protection for the physician and the patient.
God further says:
The physician must refuse payment for the treatment of another physician or his immediate family. There is no specific instruction regarding this particular matter in the Qur'an or Islamic tradition. However, reference is made to another situation which may be used in analogy. God says regarding Zakat money:
Here is a situation where the persons providing a certain service are entitled to the use of the same service at the time of need. Applying the same principle, the physician who provides the health services to others is entitled to the use of the same service at the time of need.
Qur'an: 2/269In closing reference is made to the Muslim Physician adopted by the Islamic Medical Association in 1977, and which reflects the spirit and philosophy of the Islamic Code of Medical Professional Ethics proposed in this paper.
In summary, the Muslim physician must believe in God and in Islamic teachings and practice in private and public fife; be grateful to his parents, teachers, and elders, be humble, modest, kind, merciful, patient, and tolerant; follow the path of the righteous; and always seek God's support. The Muslim physician must stay abreast of current medical knowledge, continuously improve Ms skills seek help whenever needed, and comply with legal requirements governing his profession; realize that God is the maker and owner of his patient's body and mind and treat him within the framework of God's teachings; realize that life was given to man by God, that human life starts at the time of concep6on, and that human life cannot be taken away except by God or with His permission; realize that God is watching and monitoring every thought and deed; follow God's guidelines as his only criteria, even if they differ with popular demand or the patient's wishes; not recommend nor administer any harmful material; render needed help regardless of financial ability or ethnic origin of the patient; offer needed advice with consideration for both the patient's body and mind; protect the patient's confidentiality; adopt an appropriate manner of communication; examine a patient of the opposite sex in the presence of a third person whenever feasible; not criticize another physician in the presence of patients or health personnel, refuse payment for treatment of another physician or his immediate family ; and strive to use wisdom in all his decisions.