Answered by Sidi Wasim Shiliwala

Question: Is it permissible for a Muslim to pursue a job in the medical field? The reason is because I have heard that it is not permissible for a male doctor to serve female patients. Is this true? In America, it is not easy to avoid female patients. What is your take on this? There is a hadith that do not a profession that would took you away from the deen, so would this take away you from Islam?

Answer: Walaikum As-salaam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu,

May Allah reward you for your concern with the Islamic nature of your livelihood! Alhamdulillah, since a large portion of our adult lives are spent at work, we must take extra care to ensure that our livelihood is halal and pleasing to Allah. After all, we will see every atom’s weight of good and evil that we do in this world on the day of judgment [99:7-8], so we must do all that we can to ensure we use our time – and our careers – wisely.

Doctors and Patients of Different Genders

As a general principle, male patients must seek out male doctors and female patients must seek out female doctors, especially when examination or treatment requires uncovering one’s awra. There are certain exceptions to this rule, such as if there are no doctors of the same gender available and no one of the same gender can be instructed to treat the patient. Such exceptions are based on the principle of need, in which case the scenario is permitted only to the extent of its necessity. [Majalla]

For more details on the issue of patients seeking out medical care from doctors of different genders, please see the following answer: Fiqh of Females Seeking Medical Treatment

Medical Training and Practice

This principle of need also applies to doctors as well. For example, medical training might require that doctors study detailed and graphic pictures that would otherwise be haraam to look at. Looking at these pictures becomes permissible only out of the necessity to learn about human anatomy and various medical conditions.

A similar need for treatment would allow for Muslim doctors to treat patients of different genders. While in an ideal Muslim setting, doctors would see patients of the same gender unless necessity required otherwise, it is actually illegal in many places for doctors to refuse to see patients of a different gender. Because resisting this law would put the doctor’s livelihood at stake, it is then permissible out of necessity for that doctor to see patients of the opposite gender.

Even in such cases, doctors should restrict contact with and looking at patients of the opposite gender to what is absolutely necessary. Furthermore, seclusion (khalwa) with the patient should be avoided, either by keeping the room open or by having another person present (such as a nurse, secretary, or family member of the patient).

For more details on this question, see the following answer: Can a male doctor see female patients?

High Intentions and Preserving One’s Religion

Considering the above dispensations that need to be taken to practice medicine, it is very important that one chooses that career with a clear understanding of what they are doing and why they are doing it.

Treating and caring for others is a highly rewarded act in Islam. The Prophet {saw} said: “Whosoever removes a worldly grief from a believer, Allah will remove from him one of the griefs of the Day of Judgment. Whosoever alleviates [the lot of] a needy person, Allah will alleviate [his lot] in this world and the next. Whosoever shields a Muslim, Allah will shield him in this world and the next. Allah will aid a servant [of His] so long as the servant aids his brother.” [Nawawi, al-Arba’in]

As such, being a doctor is a very noble profession. By spending their lives caring for the sick, doctors’ lives are filled with immense rewards and blessing from Allah – provided that they have a sound intention.

However, Allah has made all of us different, and not everyone is suited to being a doctor. Some cannot handle the stress that comes with job, while others are made uncomfortable by blood and disease. Most importantly, some people might find that this career choice negatively affects their spirituality and religiosity, especially given the many gray areas they might face throughout their careers.

It is therefore vital that one gauges such factors when deciding whether or not they want to pursue a career in medicine. We may have the most noble and selfless job in the world, but if we end up sacrificing our deen for the sake of that job, then we will have lost all of its benefits for this world and the hereafter.

May Allah bless us all with careers that are filled with His blessing and pleasure.

Jazakum Allahu Khairan,
-Wasim

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

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"Whoever guides someone to goodness will have a similar reward"-- The Prophet (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him)