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Medical Ethics Questions asked by Muslims and their Short Answers


Q. Can Muslim patients take medicines which may contain alcohol or pig by- products?

A. No, Muslims should not take these medicines unless they are life saving drugs and no substitute is available.

Q. I am 3 months pregnant and doing fine. Can I fast during Ramadan?

A. It is preferable that you utilize God's granted exemption and do not fast. Your baby is dependent on you for his or her nutrition and hydration. Why do you want him or her to fast with you?

Q. Is use of placebos in clinical trial endorsed by Muslim Ethicists?

A. Yes, but make sure that the protocol is fully explained to the patient and by delaying the treatment, no worsening of his medical condition takes place nor his life is endangered.

Q. While fasting can a Muslim patient have a blood test (venous draw) or check his glucose with a finger stick?

A. Yes, if it is a medical necessity.

Q. While fasting can a Muslim patient take tablets, injections, inhalers or patches?

A. The general rules are: (1) Sick patients are exempt from fasting. (2) Any medicine of nutritional value or taken with water will break the fast. (3) Patches and inhalers can be used.

Q. On Separation of conjoined twins, one dependent on the other, which one to save?

A. It is a difficult situation. The emphasis should be to save both lives and one cannot be sacrificed over the other. However, if one has to do so, the twin who cannot function on its own and acts as a vestigial organ of the other, may have to be sacrificed during the process of separation.

Q. Should a female patient only seek a female Gynecologist?

A. If available, same sex health care providers are encouraged but, if not available and in life saving situations, "necessity overrides the prohibition" - a rule of Islamic Sariah.

Q. Can a female Physician do genital/rectal examination of male patients?

A. Yes, but in the presence of a male nurse or male relative of the patient. The answer to the previous question also applies here.

Q. Should Muslim Physicians care for AIDS patients? Is this endorsing homosexuality?

A. We do not discriminate other patients because of their lifestyle (smokers, alcoholics, over eaters etc) nor should we do so for AIDS patients. We should care for them as we care for any patient, taking all the necessary precautions to protect ourselves. By the way, not all AIDS cases are due to homosexuality.

Q. Should Muslim OB/GYN Physicians perform vasectomy or tubal ligation?

A. Such procedures are prohibited in Islam except to save the life of the mother. Thus, like Catholic Physicians, Muslim Physicians also may not perform them.
Shahid Athar M.D. is Clinical Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Endocrinology, Indiana University School of Medicine Indianapolis, Indiana.

I believe there are lots of allopathic medicines which contain Alcohol and other prohibited things.But those things in order to cure them from diseases and provide relief to the Patients so i think it has no issue if you take such medicines.


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