Calling people to Allah’s religion is one of the noblest of concerns and richest of good deeds. Allah says: “And who is better in speech than him who invites to Allah, engages in good works, and declares: I am of those who submit to Allah.” [Sûrah Fussilat
Allah honored Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by enjoining this noble work upon him. Allah commanded him: “Say: This is my way; I call to Allah upon clear knowledge, I and those who follow me. Glory be to Allah! And I am not of those who engage in polytheism.” [Sûrah Yûsuf
In order to appreciate the Islamic rulings pertaining to Islamic work in the medical field, its importance, and the means of undertaking it, we need to think about the following:
1. The first point that we must consider is that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was a doctor who treated both body and soul. Allah says: “And we send down in the Qur’ân that which is a healing and a mercy for the believers.” [Sûrah al-Isrâ’
Allah also says: “O humankind! An exhortation has come to you from your Lord and a healing for what is in the hearts.” [Sûrah Yûnus
The Prophet (peace be upon him) treated the psychological, physical, and intellectual ailments of the people. Entire books have been written about “Prophetic medicine” wherein can be found numerous treatments that were prescribed by our Prophet. This, indeed, is one of the proofs that attest to his prophetic office.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was an exemplary model for all the doctors who would come after him, since he engaged in their profession, even if only to a limited extent. For this reason, Muslim doctors have traditionally opened their medical books with a discussion of the honor of their profession in that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had practiced it.
Enoch (peace be upon him) was also both prophet and physician. It is said that he was the first person to speak about medicine. If this is true, then Enoch (peace be upon him) is to be considered the founding father of Islamic work in the medical field.
2. The second point to consider is that a Muslim doctor is but one of the legally accountable Muslims to whom the divine message is addressed. Every command and prohibition that is enshrined in the Qur’ân and Sunnah is directed at him as well. Consequently, one of the things that is enjoined upon him is to invite others to Allah. When he carries out this work, he is fulfilling what is required of him as a Muslim before all else. Just as he must uphold the ethics and standards of his venerable profession, he must even more keenly uphold the duties enjoined upon him by his Lord.
3. The third point to consider is that it is a collective obligation upon Muslim society to have people within it who are specialized in medicine. Those individuals who fulfill this obligation for society with sincerity to Allah are deserving of great blessings and rewards. Imâm al-Haramayn al-Juwaynî astutely observed that: “The collective obligations are better than individual obligations, since carrying them out entails relieving others from the burden of doing so.” [Quoted in: Ibn Wakīl, al-Ashbâh wa al-Nazâ’ir
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had appointed some of the men and women among his Companions who were doctors to carry out this important duty. He used to advise people to consult with them. For instance, he advised Sa`d b. Abī Waqqâs to visit the “Doctor of the Arabs” al-Hārith b. Kaladah al-Thaqafî. [Refer to Ibn al-Qaftî, Ikhbâr al-`Ulamâ’ bi-Akhbâr al-Hukamâ’
(112) and Ibn Jaljal, Tabaqât al-Atibbâ’ wa al-Hukamâ’
Doctors are engaged in upholding one of the frontiers of the faith. The jurists have mentioned that the vital necessities that Allah has enjoined upon His servants to preserve and uphold are five: first the faith, then life, reason, wealth, and lineage. Medicine directly entails the preservation of life and of reason, since its concern is to treat the ailments of both the body and mind.
Medicine, likewise, contributes to the preservation of lineage by educating people about sexual diseases and through forensic techniques that can confirm when sexual offenses have taken place. Medicine also contributes implicitly to the preservation of the religion, since none other than a rational living soul can uphold the faith.
4. The fourth point we must consider is that disease is from Allah’s decree; it is something by which He tries and tests His servants. Among them are those who bear their afflictions with patience and fortitude. Others are unable to do so and are instead wracked with anxiety and despair.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded us to seek medical treatment. He said: “Allah has not sent down a sickness except that he sent down with it its cure. Some may know of the cure, and others may be ignorant of it.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî
It is imperative for the medical practitioner to take the different personalities of his patients into account and the various ways that they cope with their illnesses, and he should treat each patient accordingly.
Why Medical Professionals Should Engage in Islamic Work
1. Islamic work is a noble and honorable deed. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “That Allah guides one person through you is better for you then the finest of red camels. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî
and Sahîh Muslim
Ibn al-Qayyim observed: “The scholar who knows the Sunnah and rulings pertaining to what is lawful and prohibited, and who can discern the means that lead to good from those that lead to evil, it is better for him to mix with the people to teach them and advise them than it is for him to shun their company and devote all his time to prayer, reading the Qur’ân, and praising His Lord.”
2. Another reason that medical professionals should call others to Islam is because it is their religious obligation. This brings us to ask the question: What exactly is the Islamic legal ruling about Islamic work?
Many scholars have said that it is a collective duty upon the Muslim community and not an individual duty. However, what does this really mean?
Al-Shâtibî answers this question in the following way [al-Muwâfaqât
It might be correct to say that it is a collective obligation in a manner of speaking, since carrying out this duty confers a general benefit upon society. The people, hence, are commanded collectively to fulfill this duty. There are those who are able to engage in it directly, who have the proper aptitude to carry out the task. Everyone else, even if they do not have the ability to carry out the task themselves, is still capable of making sure that those who are able to do so get up and do so. It is the duty of those who are in positions of authority to make sure that this work is carried out, so if they not capable of fulfilling this duty themselves, they are obliged to make sure that those who are capable of doing so fulfill their duty. The underlying principle in operation here is that whatever is needed in order to fulfill an obligation becomes obligatory itself.
In today’s world, the obligation of calling others to Islam is not ensured by governments, official bodies, and appointed individuals. The proof for this can be seen in the state the Muslims are in today, with people leaving Islam and going astray on account of the different religious proselytizing efforts that have become widespread. Moreover, Muslims in many parts of the world are still asking for Islamic workers to come to them without finding anyone to respond to their appeals.
Another problem is that many of those who are qualified to call others to Islam do not have the financial resources to carry out their work. If just some of these qualified people and Islamic organizations had the resources, the state of the Muslim world would improve greatly.
Up to now, there is not a single Islamic television station that is able to address the world about Islam in its various languages. By contrast, there are according to al-Kawthar Journal
, 3400 church-owned television stations around the world.
There are insufficient funds to spread Islam throughout the drought stricken regions of Africa, even though there are a number of qualified Islamic workers in those areas. The Muslim response to Christian missionary efforts towards Muslims in Indonesia, Russia, and Eastern Europe is far from adequate.
We can contrast this with the scope of Christian missionary efforts around the world. Dr. `Abd al-Rahmân al-Masît observed: “In one Kenyan city, there are eight churches to be found, in spite of the fact that the native population of that city is entirely Muslim.”
He also writes:
One of the experiences that really affected me was my visit to one of the European relief agencies. I met the woman who was in charge of the center. She was in the prime of her youth – she could not have been more than twenty-four years old. When I asked her what she was doing there, she told me that she engages in relief work and manages the center. I asked her where she had worked before this. She said that she used to be in southern Sudan in a much more difficult region than the one she was working in at present. She lived without electricity or water, had to contend with an environment full of mosquitoes and dangerous animals as well as the rough temperament of the people. I asked her why she was there. She replied: “To engage in humanitarian work.” She received only the smallest of salaries, no more than mere pocket money.
He also writes:
How quickly our youth become inspired by listening to a lecture or a cassette, and how quickly they lose that inspiration. Even those who came to Africa and saw for themselves what it is possible for a person to achieve here and resolved to Allah in our presence to make the improvement of their brethren in Africa their main goal in life were unable to bear this burden for more than a short time.
If we had only a few Muslims willing to devote their lives to Islamic work in Africa or to support the work as people of other religions are willing to do, Islam would spread to every village in Africa. At this time, there are four million Christian missionaries working full-time to spread their faith. I ask: how many Muslims are working full-time to spread theirs?
3. Another reason for a medical professional like myself to engage in Islamic work is that I as an individual need to strengthen my faith. By calling others to Islam, I develop my own character and become stronger in carrying out my religious duties and more devout in my worship. I monitor my own conduct before turning my attention towards others.
4. Medical professionals should engage in this work because they have a better opportunity than many others to call people to Islam. A lot of people are very attentive to what their doctors have to say. They heed their advice. Doctor must utilize this opportunity that society affords them to call others to Allah.