February 23, 2024

Can Muslim doctors examine patients of the other sex?

Muslim doctors may examine patients of the opposite sex.

A recent article in the Journal of Medical Ethics challenged the right of Muslim doctors to refuse to examine patients of the opposite sex. Robert Card reported cases of conscientious objection by Muslim medical students in the UK.

Card assumes that “clinical activities requiring touching members of the opposite sex would violate such Muslim students’ religious Law, ethics and medicine”.

However, an Australian academic formerly based in the UAE, Michelle McLean, has challenged Card’s fundamental assumption. In her response, She asserts that Muslim doctors are permitted to perform such procedures and cites several ancient and modern Muslim scholars. As several guidebooks for Muslim doctors state, cross-gender examination was permitted even in the time of Mohammed, when battle situations made it necessary. McLean writes that, even in the UAE, she had never witnessed or heard of a male or female student refusing a cross-gender examination.

When the cases of conscientious objection received media attention in Britain, a number of Muslim leaders criticized the refusniks. Both the Muslim Council of Britain and Muslim Doctors and Dentists Association refused to support the students’ campaign. 

Xavier Symons
Creative commons
Muslim doctors
patient privacy