Can I be treated by a non-Muslim (Christian, Jew) doctor whether male or female?

The Details of the Question
I live in Macedonia. I am married. We want a child but we have not had one yet. We are well off alhamdulillah. Can I be treated by a Macedonian (Christian) doctor whether male or female? Is it a sin? Or, do I have to go to Istanbul to be treated by a Muslim doctor? I have always been to Istanbul for treatment up to now because I have heard that it is a sin to be treated by a non-Muslim doctor and because I do not want to feel guilty. Will you clarify the issue? Can a male doctor treat a female patient?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

There are various definitions of darurah (obligation); we will quote some of them:

a) To fear that one will die or that he will lose an organ.

b) It is a darurah to fear death, a severe illness or an increase or prolongation in the illness or not being able to catch up with friends. In such cases, what is haram becomes halal for a person in order to save himself. (Mughnil-Muhtaj. IV/306)

Accordingly, it is a darurah to have a child. For, if the genitals of a person, which are very important, become disabled and if it is possible to have a child by curing them, this becomes the most important darurah after death. (Halil GÜNENÇ, Günümüz Meselelerine Fetvalar II/159)

When a darurah is in question and an obligation exists, what is normally haram and objectionable becomes permissible and legitimate. It is regarded permissible to eat pork and to drink wine so little as to enable a person to survive. Darurah of treatment is like that too. For instance, it is not normally permissible for a man to look at the body of a non-mahram woman except her hands and face, but he can look at even the most private parts of a woman with the purpose of examination, treatment and diagnosis. It is permissible only as much as it is necessary and during the period of examination and treatment.

It is possible to view your question within this framework. If a woman sees a female doctor for the issue asked in the question or another issue and if she cannot be cured by her, the darurah to see a male doctor will occur. This can sometimes necessitate seeing a group of doctors in addition to a male doctor. In that case, if the diagnosis of one doctor is not enough, examination by a group of doctors will be a darurah.

If a woman cannot be treated by a female doctor related to having a child, it can be regarded as a darurah to be treated by a male doctor. (Mehmed Paksu, Aileye Özel Fetvalar)

Accordingly, if there is a female specialist, she has to see her. If not, she can see a male doctor and be treated by him. Similarly, a man sees a male specialist and is treated by him. If there is no male specialist, he can see a female doctor.

However, we should admit that the boundaries of this issue are not determined clearly in fiqh books. Therefore, if there is a male and a female doctor for a disease and if the male doctor is more skilled, it means there is a reason for the woman to see that male doctor; we do not know about any view preventing the woman from seeing the male doctor. We do not know any statements preventing a woman who is poor from seeing a male doctor working in a public clinic or hospital though there is a private female doctor that she can see by paying a fee or preventing a man who is poor from seeing a female doctor under the same circumstances.

All kinds of things and operations related to treatment like dental health, x-ray, ultrasound, analysis and test are regarded as examination and treatment except for esthetic operations. The same thing is valid for those treatments. The doctor does not have to be a Muslim.

All of those issues seem to be left to the understanding and taqwa of people by the shari’ (imposer of shari’ah). We can clarify this as follows: A person who says the issue is an issue of treatment and is treated by a person of the opposite gender might not have committed a sin but it may cause a person to commit something wrong one day if he/she does not make any efforts in order to look for a doctor of his/her own gender and look for a cautious method.

On the other hand, a person who acts cautiously, tries to be treated by a doctor of the same gender in a way that will not harm his/her health and tries to avoid doubtful things will receive a thawab of worshipping due to this effort. Besides, such efforts will ease the systematization and institutionalization of this thought, making such people gain thawabs. (see Muhammad al-Khatib ash-Shirbini, Mughnil-Muhtaj, I/35)

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