Is it religiously permissible for a female doctor to treat a male patient?

Details of the Question
Is it religiously permissible for a female doctor to treat a male patient?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is obligatory for a person to maintain life and avoid things that may damage it.

People have the right even the duty to have a medical treatment when they become ill because the body itself is entrusted to people. In order to fulfil worshipping and other sorts of Islamic orders and prohibitions completely, the body needs to be in good health. In case of an illness despite protection, a believer needs to have a medical treatment because, the Prophet ordered “O, the servants of Allah, have (medical) treatment (if necessary)”. ( see Tirmidhi, Tibb, 2; Abu Dawud, Tibb, 1, II; Ibn Majah, Tibb, 1; Ahmad b. Hanbal, III, 156, IV, 278)

As using medication, cleansing wound with surgical operation is included in treatment, operations like blood transfusion when necessary, extracting an organ which needs to be separated from the body are also included in treatment. A doctor can observe the private parts of the patient as much as necessary during an operation. However, for women, it is best to undergo treatment under the control of female doctors and nurses if possible because the Prophet (pbuh) has warnings as regards to this issue.

When the Honored Companions asked the Prophet (pbuh) “O the Apostle of God, should we also care to cover even when we are alone?, he replied “ there is no doubt that Allah deserves to be shown respect.” (Bukhari, Ghasl, 20; Tirmidhi, Adab, 22, 39; Ibn Majah, Wedding, 28). Once, the Prophet (pbuh) went when to the place where the camels of zakat were. When he found the herdsman was naked under the sun, he dismissed him and stated : “A person without embarrasment cannot work for us” (as-Sarakhsi, ibid X,156)

However, it is not unobjectionable to look at the private parts of a man or a woman because of an excuse. For instance, it is permissible for a circumcissor to look at a male’s private part to perform circumcision; similarly, it is permissible in case of an illness. Moreover, during parturition, a midwife looks at the private part of a woman and if a female doctor is not available, a male doctor can carry out the treatment because the Prophet gives permission to a midwife to be available during parturition and bear witness for the birth if necessary. This includes looking at the private parts, too. (as-Sarakhsi, ibid X, 156)

As-Sarakhsi (death 460/1097) states his viewpoint on the matter of treatment of a woman by a male doctor: “If a woman is not available to treat a blister on another woman’s body and if it is not possible to teach a woman the exact way of treatment and if the woman is threatened to death or exhaustion due to this disorder or if the pain is unbearable, it is acceptable for the woman to uncover all the parts except the wound and a man to treat her medically. This man should avoid looking at other parts of the woman’s body except for the part he can help her because it is worse to gaze upon the body of the opposite gender. Here, the state of necessity is important. And it is a life-threatening situation. Even if such a situation arises, other parts apart from necessity are not acceptable to look at. (as-Sarakhsi, ibid X, 157)

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