Requiring compensation from those unqualified to practice medicine

Abu Dawood, An-Nasay, and Ibn Majah said that the Messenger of Allah said:

“Those who practice Tibb(medicine), but are not knowledgeable in this profession are responsible for their actions.”

There are three types of benefits in this Hadith:

linguistic, religious, and medicinal.

Linguistically, medicine entails preparing a thing. It entails excellence and thus entails other than the profession of doctors. A person might be called a doctor when they are proficient in anything. A proficiency might be called medicine sometimes even magic.

Ayesha, wife of the Prophet (SAW) said, “When the Jews worked magic on the Messenger of Allah, two angels sat next to him one at his head and the other at his feet, one of them asked, ‘What is the matter with the man?’ The other angel said, ‘He is Matbub (touched by magic).’ The first angel asked, “Who did Tibb (sorcery) on him?! The second angel said, ‘Such and such Jewish fellow.’

Abu ‘Ubaid said that those touched by magic are called Matbub, touched by magic. The medicine is called Tibb. The word Tabib describes a knowledgeable person including doctors.

The religious benefit from this Hadith requires the ignorant doctor to pay for his mistakes because he has practiced a profession although he was unqualified in it and then caused harm to the people, whom he in fact has cheated and deceived. Therefore, unqualified doctors are held responsible for any health risks they cause, according to the consensus of the scholars.

Al-Khattabi said, “There is no difference concerning the ruling that when one treats a sick person and causes him harm that he is financially responsible for his acts. Those who indulge in a profession that they are not proficient in are aggressors. Therefore, when their actions lead to harm, the aggressors ought to pay for their actions, financially not physically since the sick person actually allows such ignorant people to treat him.

Types of doctors:

There are five types of doctors:

Proficient doctor: Who gives the profession its due right and who acts responsibly. When such a person treats a sick person, an act that is allowed both by the religion and the sick person, and then commits a mistake he is not liable for this mistake. For instance, when a doctor who is proficient in his job performs circumcision for a boy under favorable circumstances, but the organ suffers some type of damage, the doctor will not be liable for this mistake. If a swelling was cupped by a proficient person in the proper time and manner, but certain damage occurred, the doctor is not liable for that mistake.

The ignorant doctor: Who treats a sick person and causes him harm? If the sick person had knowledge beforehand that this doctor was ignorant and yet allowed him to treat him, then there is no compensation required in this case. This ruling does not contradict the Hadith we mentioned at the beginning of the chapter. The wording of the Hadith indicates that those who have to pay for their mistakes have cheated the sick person and caused the illusion that they were proficient doctors.

for himIf the sick person thinks that a certain person is a proficient doctor and thus allows him to treat him, the ignorant doctor is required to compensate the sick person for whatever damage he might cause. When such a so-called doctor prescribes a medicine for a sick person who takes the medicine thinking that the doctor prescribed the medicine to him with knowledge, and if the medicine causes any harm, compensation would be required in this case. The Hadith is clear in its indication regarding this type.

The proficient doctor who was given permission to treat a person, but made a mistake and caused harm to a healthy organ (meaning not the organ he was treated because it is aggression by mistake) operates, the then the proficient doctor who prescribes the wrong medicine for the sick person who dies as a consequence. There are two opinions on this subject, one of them requires compensation from the Muslim Treasury while the other requires it from the doctor’s resources. Both of these opinions were attributed to Imam Ahmad. The fifth type is a proficient doctor who amputated an organ from an insane person or a child without permission, or who circumcised a boy without his parent’s permission and the organ was harmed. Some scholars say that the doctor is required to pay compensation in this case because he was not given permission to operate. However, if the guardian or the parent allows the doctor to operate, then the doctor is not required to pay for his mistake. It is possible that the doctor who operates without permission may not have to pay compensation because he intended to do good and is therefore not liable for the damage he causes. The Hadith at the beginning of this chapter entails such medicinal professions as remedy prescription, applying Kuthl, physicians, performing circumcision, cupping and incisions, splintering broken bones, cauterization and administering injections, veterinarians, and so forth.then in this case compensation is required

The proficient doctor takes the following steps when treating any type of disease.

  1. First, diagnose the type of disease.
  2. Search for the cause behind the disease.
  3. Examine the sick person to decide if his body is able to fend off the disease or if it is weaker than the disease. If the patient is strong enough to resist the disease, the doctor should not prescribe medicine.
  4. Examine the patient and his mood and condition.
  5. Examine the changes in the state of the patient.
  6. Examine the sick person’s age,
  7. Examine his habits and what he is accustomed to,
  8. Remember seasonal effects.
  9. Consider the sick person’s place of origin.
  10. Consider the atmospheric conditions at the time he caught the disease.
  11. Search for the correct and suitable medicine.
  12. Examine the effectiveness of the medicine and the correct dosage.
  13. The doctor not only intends to cure the ailment but to prevent what is even more serious. If curing, a certain disease leads the way to an even more serious disease, the doctor allows the current illness to remain and tries to make it milder. For instance, the orifice of the veins, which is treated by incision or cutting, might aggravate other acute ailments.
  14. Choosing and prescribing the simplest medicine for treatment is warranted. For instance, the doctor does not prescribe medicine unless he investigates his options of food and diet. The doctor should not prescribe multiple or complex medications until he investigates his options regarding simpler medications. It is a sign that the doctor is a true professional that he prescribes food when he can substitute it for medicine and simple rather than complex medications.
  15. The doctor examines if the illness is treatable or not. If the doctor finds out that he is unable to treat the disease, let him preserve his energy and reputation and avoid falling prey to his own greed so that he pretends to cure the incurable. If the illness is curable, the doctor examines if it can be totally cured, or at least made milder. If the doctor discovers that he cannot cure the disease or decrease its intensity, he should examine the ways to stop it from being aggravated. In this case, the medication should be administered for that purpose, to increase the body’s strength and stop the disease from increasing.
  16. The doctor should not revert to excreting the septic substances before they become stable and mature.
  17. The doctor should be knowledgeable of the sicknesses of the heart and soul and the methods of treating such ailments. This, indeed, is a major aspect of medicinal science, for the effect of the heart’s moods and feelings is apparent in the physical body. This is why we state that if a medical doctor is proficient in the ills of the heart, he will be the perfect doctor. On the other hand, a doctor who does not have knowledge of the ills of the heart while knowledgeable in the ills of the body will be only half of a doctor. He is not a doctor who does not examine the righteousness of the sick person’s heart and encourages him to strengthen his soul and body by performing righteous, good deeds, such as charity and being interested in drawing closer to Allah and acquiring the good of the Hereafter. Rather, he is a fake doctor. In fact, the best cures are in performing righteous good deeds, charity, remembering Allah, supplicating to Him, seeking His help, invoking Him, and repenting to Him, such good deeds have a truly profound effect in curing illnesses, more so than the usual medications, providing that the ailing person has faith in such divine remedies.
  18. Being lenient and forbearing with the sick person, just as one is easy-going and lenient with a child.
  19. The doctor should use the various types of medicinal and spiritual cures, along with using his imagination.
  20. The doctor should make his treatment revolve around the six major principles, which are the cornerstone of his profession. First, the doctor should preserve health. Second, he should try and bring back the lost health. Third, the doctor should cure the disease. Fourth, at least lessen the intensity of the disease. Fifth, the doctor should ignore the lesser evil and treat the bigger evil. Sixth, the doctor should ignore the lesser good to acquire the greater good. The science of medicine revolves around these six basics, and the doctor who does not rely on them is not a doctor. Allah knows best.

Stages of Disease:

The sick person passes through four stages:

  1. The beginning.
  2. The intense stage.
  3. Fading.
  4. The end of the illness.

Since the sick person passes through four stages the doctor has to examine each of these stages carefully and treat them in the proper manner. For instance, if the doctor feels the body needs to remove and excrete harmful substances if they are mature, he should do so. If this is not possible at the beginning of the ailment, especially if the disease has already progressed, or because the body is weak, the weather is cold, or by mistake, the doctor should not resort to excretion in these cases. If the doctor ignores this warning, the body will be busy dealing with the medication and will not concentrate on resisting the disease. This is similar to requiring a soldier who is busy defending his post to do something else. Rather, the doctor’s concern should be concentrated on preserving the strength of the body as much as possible at this stage.

When the disease has stopped progressing, the doctor should then use excretion and treat the causes of the disease. It is even better when the disease has started to subside and end. This case is similar to an enemy whose strength has started to depart and his ammunition nears its end, so capturing him, in this case, becomes easier. When the enemy starts to give flight, it is even easier to capture him. It is a fact that the strength of the enemy will be at a maximum at the beginning of his aggression. This is the exact case with medicine as regards the ailing body.

The skilled doctor uses the easiest treatment and cures first, then the more difficult or powerful medications. Therefore, the doctor moves from the less powerful to the more powerful, unless he fears that the strength of the body will be drained if he does not use the most powerful medicine first. The skilled doctor does not keep using the same medications in a way that will allow the body to get used to the medicine and thus it loses its effectiveness. The doctor should first consider prescribing a diet before using medications. If the doctor is unsure about the nature of the disease, he should not prescribe medication before being sure of the correctness of his diagnosis. There is no harm if the doctor administers a medication that does not cause side effects or negative repercussions.

When several diseases attack the body, the doctor starts with the medicine that satisfies three conditions:

The first condition is that treating the disease that might lead to curing the other diseases, such as when confronted with swelling and an ulcer, he starts with the swelling. In the second condition, the doctor starts with the disease that has caused the other. For example, if the doctor is confronted with an embolism (the obstruction of an artery by an embolus, usually a piece of clotted blood that breaks away from one part of the circulatory system and travels to another) and septic-related fever, he starts with the cause of the first disease. Third, when one of the two diseases is more serious than the other disease, then the doctor should start with the acute ailment. Yet, the doctor should examine the progress of the other disease. When disease and a symptomatic ailment both attack the body, the doctor starts with the disease, unless the symptomatic condition is stronger, such as in the case of painful constipation. The doctor first treats the pain and then treats the embolism. If the doctor can substitute excretion or extraction (of the septic substances) with hunger, fasting, or sleep, then he should do so.


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