Tuesday, 16 September 2008



Put simply – ethics is about the knowledge and conduct of what is right and wrong. One of the most important branches of medicine and law is a field called medical ethics, defined as the branch of ethics that is, “concerned both with the standards of conduct and competence expected of members of the medical profession, and with the study of ethical problems raised by the practice of medicine.”

In the absence of a belief in God, in a secular world, ethics are predominantly governed by the power of law. We can talk about the power of the conscience, but the conscience, except in a very small amount of cases, doesn’t have the power to punish someone for their wrong actions. By contrast, in a society where the members have submitted wholeheartedly to God, ethics will not be a matter for the conscience or the law; it will be God’s decree on mankind. I firmly believe that ethics (and especially medical ethics), without a belief in God, would never have a solid foundation, that God ought to be the basis of our morality, and only by remembering Him in every action will We both adore Him and fear Him. God is a necessity for the survival of morals and ethics, and indeed, I believe, as Voltaire puts it, “If God did not exist, we would have to invent Him”. Fortunately, He does exist.

If one does not believe in God (and therefore an afterlife[1]), then quite literally, he or she may do anything, provided that they know that they will not be punished by law. I find Martin Gardner’s thoughts on this issue most valuable and thought-provoking, and cannot help but quote a few paragraphs he wrote on the issue in an essay entitled, ‘Immortality: Why I am Not Resigned’:

“Samuel Johnson once described an acquaintance by saying, “Sir, if it were not for the notion of immortality, he would cut a throat to fill his pockets”. To which a friend replied, “He would cut a throat to fill his pockets, if it were not for fear of being hanged”.

Who would defend Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov when he argued that if God does not exist there is nothing wrong in killing a useless old woman. Nevertheless, I do think it makes a pragmatic difference, albeit small, whether one looks upon morality as a contruction by humans in a godless universe, or believes in God and life after death. Oddly enough, even some atheists incline to agree. Here is how Dwight MacDonald once worried over the matter:

“Discussing the basis of one’s moral code is like taking apart one of those wooden Russian eggs, each of which encloses a still smaller one: “I believe it is wrong to kill people”. “Why” “Because I have respect for humanity” “Why” “Because I am human and recognise my brother’s kinship.“Why” etc, etc. If one believes in God, one finally gets down to an ultimate egg that is solid and so ends the taking-apart (analytical) process. God is simply and logically an absolute, an end and not a means, unique in our – that is, some of us – experience. But an unbeliever gets down to an egg that is hollow like the rest, ultimately, on air – “I just feel it to be so”. This doesn’t bother me too much emotionally, but it is undeniably awkward from a logical point of view”

If faith plays a role in the behaviour of some of us, it is surely bound up with a belief that God sees all our acts, and that we will somehow be rewarded or punished accordingly. In Plato’s ‘Republic’, the situation was dramatised by Socrates in his discussion of the Ring of Gyges – a magical ring that makes its wearer invisible. Would you, if you had such a ring, be more likely to commit certain crimes? If you could nod your head, asked Roussau, and obtain instant wealth at the price of the death of a Mandarin in China, would you nod? I do not know to what extent faith in God and an afterlife provides checks on such behaviour. I do believe it makes a difference”

Harun Yahya emphasised the same point in a chapter entitled, ‘What happens when fear of God does not exist’, in his book, ‘Solution – The Values of the Quran’. I quote the first part of that brilliantly written chapter fully:

“Think of two men. One of them knows that he will meet Allah and is aware that every act of his has a recompense. The other, on the contrary, supposes that he will not have to give account to anyone. Surely, there is a great difference between how these two men conduct themselves. Someone bereft of the fear of Allah is likely to commit any evil and ignore all kinds of immorality when he feels his interests are at stake. Someone, who readily kills a human being, for instance, for no apparent reason or for a worldly interest, does this because he does not fear Allah. If he had steadfast faith in Allah and the hereafter, he would never dare to do anything of which he could not give account in the hereafter.

In the Qur'an, the story of the sons of the prophet Adam, peace be upon him, are given as examples to call our attention to the sharp difference between a person who fears Allah and one who does not:

Recite to them the true report of Adam's two sons when they offered a sacrifice and it was accepted from one of them but not accepted from the other. The one said, 'I shall kill you.' The other said, 'Allah only accepts from people who have fear of Allah. Even if you do raise your hand against me to kill me, I am not going to raise my hand against you to kill you. Truly, I fear Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. (Surat al-Ma'ida: 27-28)

The one who has no fear of Allah dares to kill his brother without batting an eyelid although his brother has no guilt, whereas the victim, despite being threatened with death, says that he would not even attempt to kill his brother. This is the consequence of this person's fear of Allah. Thus, once the individuals of a society have fear of Allah, then murder, oppression, injustice and inequity, of which Allah does not approve, will end.

Covetousness for the world also accounts for people's cruelties and immoralities. The main worry of many people is about becoming poor, or having no guarantee of their future. These concerns essentially explain why bribery, corruption, theft, false witnessing and prostitution become ways of life for many people. For someone who has faith in Allah, however, the approval of Allah is over and above everything else. Such a person avoids anything that will cause him to lose the approval of Allah. In his heart, he only harbours fear of Allah; neither death, nor hunger, nor any other hardship can divert him from the right path.

Consequently, no matter what the circumstances, a person having fear of Allah, never deviates from the Qur'an. Equally, he is trustworthy. He always acts conscientiously. Having a profound sense that Allah sees and hears everything, he does not attempt to act against his conscience even when alone.

Lack of religion instigates the loss of conscience. To make this point clear, think of somebody who has no hesitation in running away after hitting a man on the street with his car. This is a mere indication of his being distant from religion. This man, who without conscience leaves a human being all alone in agony in the middle of the street, who would, otherwise, have a chance to survive, thinks that he can avoid people by running away from them. Never does he think, however, that Allah surrounds him, seeing and hearing him every second. One can never run away from Allah's reckoning and the day of accounting. Allah will pay everyone back for all injustices, cruelties, and conscienceless acts on the day of account:

When people are reminded of Allah's verses, and instructed in this important truth, such unscrupulous acts will be prevented.

One example of the unscrupulous attitudes of people distant from the religion is the people in some societies who provide medical care as if they were doctors despite having no medical background. Albeit totally ignorant of any field of medicine, such people readily deceive patients and dare to treat them without caring about the serious threats they pose to their health. Such unscrupulous acts can even end with the death of the patient. Totally ignoring these drawbacks, they only think of acquiring some benefits and making money. However, in one of His verses, Allah commands believers to "to render back trusts to those to whom they are due". (Surat an-Nisa': 58) The health of a person, too, is a precious trust. Hence, in compliance with the aforementioned verse, people should avoid practising a profession to which they are not entitled and becoming involved in attempts that will harm other people.

In all walks of life, one is likely to encounter the unscrupulous acts committed by people who do not fear Allah. Failing to see the closeness of Allah's reckoning and failing to ponder over it, one readily slanders an innocent person. Meanwhile, he merely thinks of convincing people about his innocence and making them believe in his words. Such a person is utterly void of understanding that Allah is witness over all things and, without exception, everything will be reckoned in the hereafter. In this sense, that the innocent undergoes an ordeal, feels distress or is sent to prison does not disturb his conscience. Allah, in the Qur'an, declares the punishment a slanderer will receive as follows:

Anyone who commits an error or an evil action, and then ascribes it to someone innocent, bears the weight of slander and clear wrongdoing. (Surat an-Nisa': 112)

There is a group of you who propagated the lie. Do not suppose it to be bad for you; rather it is good for you. Every one of them will incur the evil he has earned and the one who took it on himself to amplify it will receive a terrible punishment. (Surat an-Nur: 11)

A person who does not fear Allah does not respect and value other people. This lack of fear explains why many restaurant owners do not run their business hygienically or why the majority of people no longer respect elderly people. Similarly, having no fear of Allah accounts for patients dying in emergency rooms due to lack of care, and despised and poor people and millions of innocent people massacred for a handful of land, etc.

In societies with members having fear of Allah, nobody engages in any of these, being aware that any misdeed a person commits in this life will meet him in the hereafter. With individuals having a sound conscience, this society is entitled to enjoy peace and a sense of trust. Strict avoidance of debauchery, prostitution and any other form of immorality together with the sensitivity shown to values such as respect, compassion and mercy ensure unbreakable family ties, which are undeniably essential for a strong society. The society enjoys such reliable bases mainly because people show allegiance to one another.”

I wholeheartedly believe that the only thing stopping an atheist doctor from harming many of his or her patients (for one’s benefit – it may be something as simple as a cremation form, a deal struck over inheritance with the patient’s family, or sparing oneself the time and energy needed to look after that patient) is fear of law and the response of society if he or she should be discovered. Even when he or she is doing good it is all about feeling good; “When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion”, as Abraham Lincoln put it. It is a very self-centred ethics. The true believer knows that all good comes from God. We are merely tools for the exercise of that good. Doesn’t God say, “And thou (Muhammad) threwest not when thou didst throw, but Allah threw, that He might test the believers by a fair test from Him. Lo! Allah is Hearer, Knower” (8:17), when the Prophet (PBUH) threw his weapons in the war against the warmongers. If one falls ill, it is He who cures, as the prophet Abraham puts it. This is the awareness of absolute monotheism, "Who created me, and it is He Who guides me; "Who gives me food and drink, "And when I am ill, it is He Who cures me; "Who will cause me to die, and then to life (again)” (26:78-82). For a physician, as put in several Muslim physicians’ code of conduct:

“The role of Physician is that of a catalyst through whom God, the Creator, works to preserve life and health. He is merely an instrument of God in alleviating people's illness. For being so designated the physician should be grateful and forever seeking God's help. He should be modest, free from arrogance and pride and never fall into boasting or hint at self glorification through speech, writing or direct or subtle advertisement.”

To an atheist or agnostic, as Bertrand Russell explains, ethics is based on desire; it is grounded in nothing more solid, “What distinguishes ethics from science is not any special kind of knowledge but merely desire. The knowledge required in ethics is exactly like the knowledge elsewhere; what is peculiar is that certain ends are desired, and that right conduct is what conduces to them”. This is simply because, as the great skeptic David Hume, it is “not possible to prove moral beliefs”. To them, obedience to morals and ethics is simply because, “we cannot help it”, because we are ‘social animals’, to whom “the necessity of justice to the support of society is the sole foundation of that virtue”.

As explained by Alex Howard, in his discussion of David Hume in his book, ‘Philosophy for Counselling and Psychotherapy’:

“Justice is required to keep society functioning, and society is essential to preserve peace and order. Without them, human affairs are impossible. Without society, there would be a war against all societies. Societies cannot exist without laws, magistrates and means of enforcing their decisions, because people are not wise and unselfish enough to be relied upon to act always according to what is necessary for the maintenance of society….The bonds holding strangers are relatively weak compared with our own self-regard and concern for the people close to us. Without law, society would disintegrate into feuding families and individuals:

“Sympathy, we shall allow, is much fainter than our concern for ourselves, and sympathy with persons remote from us much fainter than that with persons near and contiguous””

In the absence of belief in God, I believe we will live in a Hobbesian world, the world depicted by Thomas Hobbes, one of the first ethical relativists; who believed that “good, is in the first instance...relative to the changing inclinations of man, which vary from person to person and are not eo ipso egoistic”, who argued in his classic ‘Leviathan’ that:

“To this war of every man against every man, this also is consequent; that nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law; where no law, no injustice. Force and fraud are in war the two cardinal virtues. Justice and injustice are none of the faculties neither of the body nor mind. If they were, they might be in a man that were alone in the world, as well as his senses and passions. They are qualities that relate to men in society, not in solitude. It is consequent also to the same condition that there be no propriety, no dominion, no mine and thine distinct; but only that to be every man's that he can get, and for so long as he can keep it. And thus much for the ill condition which man by mere nature is actually placed in; though with a possibility to come out of it, consisting partly in the passions, partly in his reason. The passions that incline men to peace are: fear of death; desire of such things as are necessary to commodious living; and a hope by their industry to obtain them. And reason suggesteth convenient articles of peace upon which men may be drawn to agreement.”

Hobbes was one of the first to show that, in a Godless society (which he envisaged), there would be no difference between justice and injustice, that it is only ‘fear’ that guides people’s actions and judgements. John Locke, in ‘A Letter Concerning Toleration’ (1689), argued the following:

“Lastly, those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of a God. Promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist. The taking away of God, though but even in thought, dissolves all; besides also, those that by their atheism undermine and destroy all religion, can have no pretence of religion whereupon to challenge the privilege of a toleration.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky said it too through Ivan Karamazov in his classic, ‘The Brothers Karamazov’, "If there is no immortality, there is no virtue”, or more simply put, "If God does not exist, everything is permitted". A belief in God would be vital to give a higher foundation to ethics which we shall all respect; otherwise we would have to live in Hobbes’ state of fear, or complete anarchy and chaos will ensure, which is unhealthy for the psyche.

Both utilitarian and deontological theories of ethics, which we learn about in medical school, are incompatible with the moral absolutism that belief in God brings about. I find the following critique of utilitarianism extremely useful:

“Utilitarianism defines right as what brings the greatest good to the greatest number of people. This seems to make right and wrong simply a matter of preference (i.e., convention). It disguises this relativism in that it is the preferences of society that determines right, not preferences of the individual. This does not make morality any less of a convention than if right is defined by what benefits a single individual.

Norman Geisler points out some of the further flaws with this view. First, "no one can accurately predict what will happen in the long run. Hence, for all practical purposes, a utilitarian definition of good is useless." Second, "...it begs the question to say that moral right is what brings the greatest good. For then we must ask what is "good"? Either right and good are defined in terms of each other, which is circular reasoning, or they must be defined according to some standard beyond the utilitarian process." So utilitarianism must presuppose some higher law, the very same higher law that it tries to do without. In doing this, it is inconsistent.

The utilitarian may try to get around this and say that the "greatest good" is defined as "greatest happiness," and that this is self-evident and therefore does not presuppose a higher law. I have many responses to this. For the sake of clarity, "right" will refer to a proper moral action while "good" will refer to the standard that makes that action right. First, it is not at all self-evident that good is equivalent to "greatest happiness." I think that the Utilitarian at this point is confusing an expression of goodness with the nature of goodness. Happiness is an expression of goodness, and that seems to be self-evident. But it is not self-evident that happiness is the foundation of good. When the utilitarian says that happiness is self-evidently good, they mean the same thing as saying that intelligence obviously good. But that doesn't make intelligence the nature, or foundation, of goodness. And it doesn't necessarily make actions that promote intelligence right just because they promote intelligence (the movie "Lawnmower Man" comes to mind).

In fact, happiness could not establish an adequate foundation for absolute morality. For one thing, absolute morality must be grounded in something greater than humans in order to be binding; otherwise it is purely subjective. For another, what if a violent rape would bring the greatest good (i.e., happiness) to the greatest number? Would that make the rape right? Of course not. Furthermore, what if billions of people delighted in the act of rape itself--if rape in itself made the majority of mankind happy? Would their happiness (the alleged "foundation of good") itself be good? I think that we would consider them seriously evil. It seems as if our subjective feelings of happiness themselves need to be judged be a standard which is above utilitarianism. Thus, happiness is an impossible foundation for real morality.

This brings us to another question that has not been answered: on what basis can the utilitarian view say that it is good for the greatest number of people to be happy? Since it is not self-evident, then it must simply be assumed as a first principle without reason. But if they do this, isn't utilitarianism backing down on the very question ethical theories are asked to answer--what makes a thing good? Saying that a right act is what brings happiness still begs the question in light of what we have previously argued. We must ask, why is happiness good? Since happiness must be assumed without a foundation to be good, then good is being arbitrarily defined. But this amounts to saying nothing and certainly fails at giving a foundation that can establish absolute morality. But if utilitarianism wants to avoid arbitrarily defining good, it must appeal to a standard outside of its world view to define this necessary first principle of good.

It seems clear that utilitarianism cannot affirm absolute morality and remain consistent. It must secretly be presupposing some standard out-side of its own view when it affirms absolute morality”

The deontological theories are consequence based; the difference is explained as follows:

“Deontological ethics is commonly contrasted with consequentialist or teleological ethical theories, according to which the rightness of an action is determined by its consequences. However, it is also important to note that there is a difference between deontological ethics and moral absolutism. Deontologists who are also moral absolutists believe that some actions are wrong no matter what consequences follow from them. Immanuel Kant, for example, famously argued that it is always wrong to lie – even if a murderer is asking for the location of a potential victim. Deontologists who are not moral absolutists, such as W.D. Ross, hold that the consequences of an action such as lying may sometimes make lying the right thing to do.”

This is unacceptable to one who believes in God – truth and justice are absolute concepts. That is the way of a God-inspired medical ethics. Ethical relativism has no place in a divine ethics.[2]

Only if an ethics is enforced from above, and reinforced with a strong belief and submission to Him, will it survive the whims and desires of mankind.

Where was the Hippocratic Oath when eugenics started? Where were the GMC and the BMA when Harold Shipman was killing all of his innocent patients, and all those doctors like him, who deliberately harmed their patients in one way or another. It was none existent; the damage is done, and in many cases is irreversible. It is clear that the conscience if it is not going to be forced by the passions of the fitrah, it needs to be forced by a fear of God. In this, belief in God serves a massive pragmatic function. However, it is not true pragmatism, for the simple reason that He exists, and He is Absolute Truth.

To non-doctors, I repeat the same sort of questions. Where was the declaration of Geneva when the Americans destroyed the Fallujah General Hospital as their first target in their ‘war against Iraq’? Where were all those codes when human experimentation began? Where was ethics when ‘fake doctors’ practice medicine (like the one illustrated in the picture above) and kill people in their evil ways? When someone believes in God, he would believe in a naturalistic ethics, in the fitrah, the basic instinct of man, on which are built the ethical axioms of life. He would not need to await a human code of conduct to know what to do. If this were the case, then there would be no point to an afterlife for those who are not aware of those codes, or those who lived before they came to being. One cannot imagine God accept the excuse, “But God, we did not know the Geneva Declaration when we killed those people”. Without God, I believe, ethics is null and void. And without a good strong faith in God, who sent His last prophet with one big mission in mind, "I have been sent only for the purpose of perfecting good morals." That is why Muslim medical codes of conduct stipulate that, “The physician should be amongst those who believe in God, fulfill His rights, are aware of His greatness, obedient to His orders, refraining from his prohibitions, and observing Him in secret and in public”, because it is fundamental to ethics.

Medical practice in the UK today is regulated by the General Medical Council, the regulatory body of medicine which, quite simply, acts as a reminder of duties of care, and has the ability to ‘strike off’ or punish those who don’t follow these things somehow, and although their guidelines are not legally binding, “they are relied upon in court so have a ‘quasi-legal’ status”. It was created following an Act of Parliament (the Medical Registration Act 1858), exactly the same year that Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace first publicized their ideas on the theory of evolution, in the presentation, “On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection”, a “joint presentation of two scientific papers to the Linnean Society of London on 1 July 1858; On The Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type by Alfred Russell Wallace and an Extract from an unpublished Work on Species from Charles Darwin's Essay of 1844, together with an Abstract of a Letter from Darwin to Asa Gray. This was the first publication of the Darwin – Wallace theory of evolution by natural selection. Darwin was spurred to write a condensed "abstract" of his "big book" on Natural Selection, which was published in November 1859 as On the Origin of Species”. around the time Ludwig Feuerbach was propagating his atheism in German philosophy circles, and only five years before the English novelist translated his Thus in his most celebrated work, ‘The Essence of Christianity’ in 1853, where he directed anthropology against religion. It was Feuerbach who gave the atheism that affected philosophers like Marx, Engels and Nietzsche (the latter famous for his remark, “God is dead”) and other men, like Freud, all of whom who were born in the 19th century. As one commentator put it, “Feuerbach’s importance lies not so much in his own thought as in the impetus that he gave to that of Marx and Engels.” The first members of the GMC were very possibly aware of the threat of the proposed atheist materialist philosophies, especially with the arrival of Karl Marx in England and the propagation of his ideas, for instance via his book, ‘The Communist Manifesto’ in 1848. The members had enough time I am sure to digest what is proposed therein, and may have, on that basis, planned that the medical profession needs something higher than God to regulate it and connect it with law. They may or may not have heard of Darwin’s proposals in that year, but it is a possibility. Darwin, as Richard Dawkins tells us, “made it possible for one to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist”.

Thomas Olsen wonders, “Some might ask why a profession that is thousands of years old needs to be reminded of its fundamental principles. Threats to professionalism have come in the form of commodification of healthcare, managed care, and economic market forces, and emphasis on quantity not quality of patient care. In educational settings, emphasis on service over learning and institutional culture can contribute. Technologic advances challenge the ability of the profession to appropriately integrate new treatments in a cost effective and appropriate manner. Inequities in access to medical care affect both individual health and the health of society.” I actually think, the threat posed by neglect of God is bigger than all these other things.

All evils of the world taken place owing to a disbelief in God, neglect of Him, a distorted view of Him, or a distorted view of religion. Only in the remembrance of God will mankind prosper, and with that there will be excellent medical ethics. Only in the awareness of the existence of God, and the teachings of what the prophets and men of wisdom taught will the GMC guidelines, which, as I explain in the last section of this chapter, be adhered to fully. As I illustrate in the last section, all of the GMC ethical guidelines are part of the ethical code given by God to humanity, via His prophets, ending with the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). They cannot be transgressed by one who believes in God and the Last Day.

It is noteworthy that virtually all the dictators and brutal killers of the last century either atheists, many of whom held a great contempt for religion, or men who wanted to manipulate God and religion for their own desires.

Under the first category fall criminals like all the Russian and Communist leaders from Lenin and Mao Tse Tung to Vladimir Putin, and all of the Israeli Prime Ministers since the creation of Israel in 1948. It is estimated that Joseph Stalin killed at least 50,000,000 people. Adolph Hitler is not far behind Stalin, with about 35,000,000 people who are dead as a direct result of his election, a man who once revealed his hatred of religion when he bluntly stated that religion is an, “organized lie [that] must be smashed. The State must remain the absolute master. When I was younger, I thought it was necessary to set about [destroying religion] …with dynamite. I've since realized there's room for a little subtlety... The final state must be… in St. Peter's Chair, a senile officiant; facing him a few sinister old women… The young and healthy are on our side… Our peoples had previously succeeded in living all right without this religion. I have six divisions of SS men absolutely indifferent in matters of religion. It doesn't prevent them from going to their death with serenity in their souls.”

Mao Tse Tung is estimated to have killed 14 to 20 million deaths from starvation during the 'Great Leap Forward'. Tens of thousands killed and millions of lives ruined during the 'Cultural Revolution'. Nicolae Andruta Ceausescu, the communist Romanian dictator, the 'Genius of the Carpathians', killed an estimated 5,000 people during the 1989 revolution that ousted him, as well as, “Possibly thousands of deaths per year during the 1980s from deprivations caused by an unnecessary austerity program. Tens of thousands more lives ruined during Ceausescu's reign”. The North Korean leader Kim Il Sung killed about three million killed in the Korean War. Between 600,000 and one million North Koreans needlessly starved to death due to the economic legacy of Kim's regime. (Some reports claim that as many as three million starved.)

Under the second category are people like George W Bush and his administration, which is currently, at least partly responsible, for the crimes of Israel, which allowed the crimes of 9-11 to take place, and feel God is on their side, being the Evangelical Christians who have a right to all that is on earth, especially the oil of Iraq. The blood of millions of Iraqis is on their hand.

Under this same category fall Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, both of whom shared the same corrupt ideology of ‘God is on our side’, the latter putting the words ‘God is great’ on the Iraqi flag soon after killing many people.

I will conclude this section with an excerpt from Harun Yahya’s book on fascism:

“In conclusion, when we examine the basis of fascism, we come to see a system of ethics that is the exact opposite of those virtues that are inherent in religion, such as love, affection, compassion, humility, co-operation, and being content with what one has. However, fascism is a school of thought that systematizes the very opposite, and, under the influence of Darwinism, portrays itself as a "scientific" and rational approach. "Cruelty," which has always been condemned by religion, is praised and sanctified systematically in fascism.

This cruel and ruthless ideology has been the root of the genocidal acts carried out by Hitler, Mussolini's ruthless conquests, the bloody civil war waged by Franco, Pinochet's brutalities, Saddam Hussein's killing of 5,000 civilians by nerve gas, the inhumane savagery meted out to the Bosnians and Albanians by Milosevic, and many other current atrocities. The fascist ideology plays a role, not only in state-sponsored violence, such as mentioned above, but also in every-day instances. The stabbing, beating or killing of people because of a simple misunderstanding are the product of a culture that sees and portrays violence as a kind of heroism. The source this mentality is the influence of the idea of a "struggle for survival," once professed by such ideologues as Darwin and Nietzsche.

The cause of this sickness is the lack of religion in these people. They may perhaps claim to be religious if asked, but they have not the slightest inkling of the true beauty and nobility that religion bestows on people. And for the same reason, the cure for this sickness is for people to learn the true meaning of, as well as understand and live by, Koranic morality”.


The GMC is the governing body of the medical profession. The functions of the GMC are:
To set professional standards.
To ensure that those practicing medicine are fit to do so.
A supervision of standards of education – the GMC sets out a syllabus for medical schools to follow.

The duties of a doctor registered with the UK GMC are the following:

Make the care of your patient your first concern
Treat every patient politely and considerately
Respect the patient's dignity and privacy
Listen to patients and respect their views
Give patients information in a way they can understand
Respect the rights of patients to be fully involved in decisions about their care
Keep your professional knowledge and skills up to date
Recognise the limits of your professional competence
Be honest and trustworthy
Respect and protect confidential information
Make sure that your personal beliefs do not prejudice your patient's care
Act quickly to protect patients from risk if you have good reason to believe that you or a colleague may not be fit to practise
Avoid abusing your position as a doctor
Work with colleagues in the ways that best serve patients' interests

As can be seen, many of those are basic ethics and manners common to humanity. This is because we are all born on ‘the Fitrah’, the inherent predisposition towards virtue and humanity, and what endows people with the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. The Quran says, “So set thy purpose (O Muhammad) for religion as a man by nature upright - the nature (framed) of Allah, in which He hath created man. There is no altering (the laws of) Allah's creation. That is the right religion, but most men know not” (30:30). It is reported that that prophet (PBUH) said, “Every child is born with the Fitrah”. He taught that by virtue of being human they deserve all the honour and respect that a carrier of God’s primordial religion, the ‘religio naturis’.

Of course, owing to various distortions of the divine message, different religions have made different human beings victims of their hate, and with that, many good hearted people have decided to abandon religion altogether. They note the hatred and animosity that has developed throughout the ages as a result of religion, how the Jews hate the Muslims, the Muslims hate the Jews, how the Christians hate both, how the Sikhs hate the Hindus and Muslims, and vice versa, and think in the end – religion is evil.

While I think there is some justification in what those opposed to religion on moral grounds have to say, I believe someone with a good heart, and a pure intention will end up believing in the one God, because only with belief in Him, as I have just mentioned, will morality and ethics prevail. With atheism, doing well and forbidding evil is a matter of desire. With submission to God, we are demanded to “enjoin the right and forbidding the wrong” (3:104), a demand repeated quite often in many places.
What I believe is that while all religions as currently portrayed are full of evil, submission to God (pure Islam) simply cannot be portrayed in that fashion. With submission to God come all the beautiful things in life, among them of course, are excellent manners and ethics. The Prophet is reported to have said, "I have been sent only for the purpose of perfecting good morals." And indeed, he was a man praised by God, not for his looks, or his charm, or his physique, or any physical quality he had, but because he had excellent morals and ethics, “And thou (standest) on an exalted standard of character” (68:4). Thus excellent manner and ethics, and being of ideal character, which is what is demanded by medical moral codes, will always find a place in the heart of one who submits to God fully.

For a doctor, submission to God is the only way of living in harmony, and especially so with regards to ethics. I cannot believe one can be a member of any religion, and say he or she believes wholeheartedly in all that their religion says, and yet live peacefully with two moral codes, one that encourages ‘hate’, even attacking people who do not share one’s own beliefs, and the medical ethical code, which stands for some of the greatest ethics known to man. Of course, there are good people of all faiths in the medical profession, but they are likely to be compromising in their traditional beliefs, and may even be regarded by their religious leaders as people living in sin. In fact they may regard themselves as living in sin, with hope in a forgiving God or gods.


I am most familiar with the Islamic religion, so I will talk about it in detail here. Traditional Islam is full of hate too. This is a fact we cannot deny, and it will be very dishonest to do so. I believe wholeheartedly that organizations like the Taliban are but a natural outcome of this system of hate. Of course, there is no hatred in Islam if Islam is defined as ‘submission to God’. But Islam has come to acquire a definition that is, as I explained above, quite far from this simple definition. Apologists and ‘moderate’ Muslim scholars will not doubt disagree with this statement, saying that the Muslims who have committed various crimes around the world have ‘not understood the religion’, or are ‘extremists’.

I say, of course they are extremists, but it is hypocritical to pretend their extreme adherence to religious commands as something wrong. Religion commands us to be ‘extreme’, the more extreme you are with regards to the teachings of your religion, the better you are.

Secondly, those extremists are but a natural consequence of beliefs which are supported by the ‘moderates’, most importantly the idea of ‘abrogation’ within the Quran, the idea that there are verses in the Quran that are ‘abrogated’ by others. It is an issue of central importance, because militant jihadists like Osama Bin Laden, and before him Sayyid Qutb, rely on it to defend their hatred to other people. As explained by David Bukay:

“The issue of abrogation in Islam is critical to understanding both jihad and da'wa, the propagation of Islam. Some Muslims may preach tolerance and argue that jihad refers only to an internal, peaceful struggle to better oneself. Western commentators can convince themselves that such teachings are correct. However, for learned Muslim scholars and populist leaders, such notions are or should be risible. They recognize that, in practice, there is compulsion in Islam. They take seriously the notion that the Qur'an teaches not just tolerance among religions, but tolerance among religions on the terms of Islam. To understand the challenge of the current Islamist revival, it is crucial for non-Muslims and moderate Muslims alike to recognize that interpretation of Islamic doctrine can have two faces, and that the Medinan face may very well continue to overshadow the Meccan face for a major portion, if not the majority, of contemporary Muslims”.

By upholding this strange belief, where certain Quranic teachings are cancelled and replaced by something else, they have given those full of hate a justification for their behaviour; in this context – militant behaviour and hatred of the other that is incompatible with any humane ethical code, let alone the medical moral code.

Traditional Islam teaches this doctrine of abrogation. It is taught to everyone, including the very young. The elementary book on Islam by Ahmed Von Denfer, ‘Ulum Al-Quran’ which is very popular as an introduction to the religion for English readers, states the scholars view that there may legitimately be cases of where “Qur’an abrogates Quran, Qur’an abrogates Sunna, Sunna abrogates Qur’an, and Sunna abrogates Qur’an”. The heavier authors, like Ibn Arabi and Suyuti’s, believe there could be between 5 and 214 cases of abrogation in the Quran.

Let us see some cases of ‘abrogation’ agreed upon by a great number of scholars:

“And when We made a covenant with the children of Israel: You shall not serve any but Allah and (you shall do) good to (your) parents, and to the near of kin and to the orphans and the needy, and you shall speak to men good words and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate. Then you turned back except a few of you and (now too) you turn aside (2:83)

And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits, surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits (2:190)

There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error; therefore, whoever disbelieves in the Shaitan and believes in Allah he indeed has laid hold on the firmest handle, which shall not break off, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing (2:205)

You shall have your religion and I shall have my religion (109:5)”

All those verses are believed by those who wish to spread hatred in humanity, to be abrogated by the following verse, which is called by some, the ‘Verse of the Sword’:

“So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful” (9:5)

Regarding this verse, Suyuti in his book ‘استنباط التنزيل’ (Istenbat al tanzeel) remarked, “Everything in the Qur'an about forgiveness is abrogated by verse 9:5.” This is the same opinion expressed by Ibn Kathir, author of one of the most popular tafseers (exegenesis) of the Quran. This is what he says:

“Verse surah 9:5 abrogated every peace treaty that had been made with the idolaters. Abu Bakr As-Siddiq used this and other honorable Ayat as proof for fighting those who refrained from paying the Zakah. These Ayat allowed fighting people unless, and until, they embrace Islam and implement its rulings and obligations... In the two Sahihs, it is recorded that Ibn ‘Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said,

“I have been commanded to fight the people until they testify there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establish the prayer and pay Zakah.”

This honorable Ayah (9:5) was called the Ayah of the Sword, about which Ad-Dahhak bin Muzahim said, "It abrogated every agreement of peace between the Prophet and any idolator, EVERY TREATY, AND EVERY TERM." Al-‘Awfi said that Ibn ‘Abbas commented: "No idolator had any more treaty or promise ever since Sura Bara’ah was revealed. The four months, in addition to, all peace treaties conducted before Bara’ah was revealed and announced had ended by the tenth of the month of Rabi’ Al-Akhir." (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 4 (Surat Al-A’raf to the end of Surah Yunus), by Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri, First Edition: May 2000, pp. 375, 377; cf. online edition; bold italic and capital emphasis ours)

Al-Shawkani in his book السيل الجرار (Alsaylu Jarar 4:518-519) says: “Islam is unanimous about fighting the unbelievers and forcing them to Islam or submitting and paying Jiziah (special tax paid only by Christians or Jews) or being killed. [The verses] about forgiving them are abrogated unanimously by the obligation of fighting in any case.”

All those authors, regarded by some as some of Islam’s greatest heroes, regard hatred, and fighting as mandatory among Muslims. And it is from them that Bin Laden and Sayyid Qutb preach. In his book, ‘Milestones’ for example, after quoting another verse that, taken out of context, would be only second to the ‘verse of the Sword’, "Fight against those among the People of the Book who do not believe in God and the Last Day, who do not forbid what God and His messenger have forbidden, and who do not consider the true religion as their way of life, until they are subdued and pay Jizyah. The Jews say: 'Ezra is the Son of God', and the Christians say: 'The Messiah is the Son of God'. These are mere sayings from their mouths, following those who preceded them and disbelieved. God will assail them; how they are perverted! They have taken their rabbis and priests as lords other that God, and the Messiah, son of Mary; and they were commanded to worship none but One God. There is no deity but He, glory be to Him above what they associate with Him! They desire to extinguish God's light with their mouths, and God intends to perfect His light, although the unbelievers may be in opposition" (9: 29-32), says in a chapter entitled quite simply, ‘Jihad’:

“The reasons for Jihaad which have been described in the above verses are these: to establish God's authority in the earth; to arrange human affairs according to the true guidance provided by God; to abolish all the Satanic forces and Satanic systems of life; to end the lordship of one man over others since all men are creatures of God and no one has the authority to make them his servants or to make arbitrary laws for them. These reasons are sufficient for proclaiming Jihaad. However, one should always keep in mind that there is no compulsion in religion; that is, once the people are free from the lordship of men, the law governing civil affairs will be purely that of God, while no one will be forced to change his beliefs and accept Islam.

The Jihaad of Islam is to secure complete freedom for every man throughout the world by releasing him from servitude to other human beings so that he may serve his God, Who IS One and Who has no associates. This is in itself a sufficient reason for Jihaad. These were the only reasons in the hearts of Muslim warriors. If they had been asked the question "Why are you fighting?" none would have answered, "My country is in danger; I am fighting for its defense" or "The Persians and the Romans have come upon us", or, "We want to extend our dominion and want more spoils'.'

It is nonsense, in the presence of beliefs like those, to regard ‘traditional Islam’ with its beliefs in ‘abrogation’ and desire to attack the other as merciful, tolerant and accommodating. Those Muslims who are merciful, tolerant and accommodating are quite simply not followers of traditional Islam, and for that they should be commended.

Some may regard the efforts of authors like Yasser Qadhi in dispelling the myth of ‘the verse of the Sword’, as he does in a chapter of his book, ‘An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’aan’, as commendable. He argued:

“It can be seen from the examples and categories quoted that, in reality, most of these verses cannot be considered to have been abrogated in the least. Some of them merely apply to situations other than those that they were revealed for. Almost all of these 'mansookh' (abrogated) verses can still be said to apply when the Muslims are in a situation similar to the situation in which the verses were revealed. Thus, the 'Verse of the Sword' in reality does not abrogate a large number of verses; in fact, az-Zarqaanee concludes that it does not abrogate any! (fn. Az-Zarqaanee, v.2, pps.275-282)”

While I certainly believe it is commendable to preach tolerance, and oppose hatred, I feel that authors like Qadhi and Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips do not do the religion much service by supporting the doctrine of abrogation, except in this one circumstance. Furthermore, he believes it to have occurred in the most peculiar of ways, for instance that verses in the Qur’an have been forgotten completely, like some ‘stoning verse’ which has been forgotten yet, because the ‘sunnah’ of the Prophets and the Caliphs apparently had it, it has been redeemed. It is believed that this verse abrogates the Quranic punishment for adultery – lashing. This is what he says word for word, in discussing the various different types of abrogation:

“In this case (the abrogation of the verse without the ruling), Allah removed the verse from the Qur’aan but left the relevant ruling. For example, a verse in the Qur’aan used to order those who has committed adultery to be stoned to death. In reference to this verse, Umar Ibn Al-Khattab said while giving a sermon in the Prophet’s (PBUH) mosque,“"Allah sent Muhammad, and sent down the scripture to him. Part of what he sent down was the passage on stoning. We read it, we were taught it, and we heeded it. The apostle [Muhammad] stoned, and we stoned after him. I fear that in the time to come men will say that they find no mention of stoning in Allah's book, and thereby go astray in neglecting an ordinance which Allah has sent down. Verily, stoning in the book of Allah is a penalty laid on married men and women who commit adultery." In fact, even the wording of the verse of stoning has been preserved in other authentic narrations, “Wa ah-shaykhu wa-shaykhatu idha zanayaa farjumoohum al-batha nakaala min Allaah”, meaning , “And the married man or woman, if they commit adultery, then stone them as a retribution of from Allaah”. Another narration clearly shows the fact that the recitation of the verse was abrogated. Umar Ibn Al-Khattab narrated, “I once came to the Prophet (PBUH) and the verse pertaining to stoning was mentioned. I asked the Prophet (PBUH), “O Messenger of Allah dictate to me the verse, so that I may write it!” The prophet (PBUH) responded, “No, I cannot do this anymore”, meaning that he was not allowed to do so anymore. This narration is explicit about the abrogation of the verse”.

Qadhi[3] then proceeds to cite other examples of ‘forgotten verses’, such as a verse regarding martyrs and a verse regarding the tendencies of the children of Adam. The hadith he quotes is this:

“Abu Harb b. Abu Al-Aswad reported on the authority of his father that abu Musa al-ash'ari sent for the reciters of Basra. they came to him and they were three hundred in number. they recited the Qur'an and he said: You are the best among the inhabitants of Basra, for you are the reciters among them. So continue to recite it. (But bear in mind) that your reciting for a long time may not harden your hearts as were hardened the hearts of those before you. We used to recite a surah which resembled in length and severity to (Surah) Bara'at. I have, however, forgotten it with the exception of this which I remember out of it:" If there were two valleys full of riches, for the son of adam, he would long for a third valley, and nothing would fill the stomach of the son of adam but dust." and we used so recite a slirah which resembled one of the surahs of Musabbihat, and I have forgotten it, but remember (this much) out of it:" Oh people who believe, why do you say that which you do not practise" (lxi 2.) and" that is recorded in your necks as a witness (against you) and you would be asked about it on the Day of Resurrection" (xvii. 13).

It is under the influence of these scholars that, Ahmed Yacoub, writing in his book, ‘The Fiqh of Medicine’ says, “The lashes punishment verse, (24:2) was …abrogated by an ayah of the Quran whose recitation was later abrogated, where the punishment became stoning to death”. This is the same Yacoub who earlier on says, “The Quran in many places, asserts that the message is complete; that nothing is omitted, and that every thing, which is disallowed is detailed”). Am I the only one who notices a massive contradiction between those two beliefs? Has the Muslim mind lost all its intellectual rigor, logic and commonsense.

I cannot believe how our esteemed scholars can believe such a thing. Do they not know the problems it poses? Do they not understand that with statements like the above, they are giving the Qur’an the human element of contradiction, of neglect, of being possibly imitated? Do they not realize that they are giving this most perfect of books many aspects of deficiency and imperfection, which God’s word is high above.

They try to justify this doctrine of abrogation, which I believe was created solely for political purposes by saying, “Laws need to continually evaluated. This is because the changing circumstances with time has the effect of making certain changes necessary”. By saying this, they neglect the fact that the Quran was revealed over twenty three years, which in the great history of mankind, is an extremely short time. Changing laws, in the manner that the advocates of abrogation believe is nonsensical.

Ibn Warraq, as much as I detest his works, makes the following valid comment:

“The doctrine of abrogation also makes a mockery of the Muslim dogma that the Koran is a faithful and unalterable reproduction of the original scriptures that are preserved in heaven. If God’s words are eternal, uncreated and of universal significance, then how can we talk of God’s words being superseded or becoming obsolete. Are some of the words of God to be preferred to other words of God? Apparently yes….We have the strange situation where the entire Koran is recited as the word of God, and yet there are passages that can be considered not ‘true’; in other words, 3 per cent of the Koran is established as falsehood”

Ali Dashti also makes the following comment:

“It is precisely because God is capable of everything that He would not reveal a verse and then abrogate {annul} it. Since omniscience and omnipotence are essential attributes of the Creator, He must be able to issue commands which do not need revision. Every thoughtful person who believes in One Almighty God is bound to ask why He should proclaim a command and then revoke it.”

How can anyone criticise Dashti, on knowing of this traditional Islamic belief, for asking, "Since God is capable of everything, why did not He reveal the ideal ruling first?" He goes on to say:

"On the assumption that the Qur’an is God's word, there ought to be no trace of human intellectual imperfection in anything that God says. Yet in these two verses the incongruity is obvious. Of course God knows what He sends down. For that very reason the replacement of one verse by another made the protesters suspicious. Evidently even the simple, uneducated Hejazi Arabs could understand that Almighty God, being aware of what is best for His servants, would prescribe the best in the first place and would not have changes of mind in the same way as His imperfect creatures"

And he quite naturally concludes:

"Study and reflection lead to the conclusion that this incongruity can only be explained as the product of an inextricable confusion between God and Mohammad. God had manifested Himself in the depths of Mohammad's mind and made Mohammad His messenger to guide the people. Mohammad was fulfilling the mission while retaining his human characteristics. The verses of the Qur’an are outpourings from both parts of his personality."

Another, more subtle way in which the doctrine of abrogation annuls all ethics and morals is by victimizing, and sending to hell, all those who don’t believe in Islam. Those who believe this, who are sadly in the majority, believe that the verse, “Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve” (2:62) (which is most compatible with belief in a merciful God) was abrogated by the verse, “And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the hereafter he shall be one of the losers” (3:85) (which, if taken to mean anything other than the simple, literal translation of Islam – which is submission to God [with which comes, as a logical consequence, belief in an afterlife] implies that God is ruthless and merciless). They seem to think that what is referred to here is traditional Islam, with all its tenets and beliefs, as we have it taught now by our wonderful ‘scholars’, and seem to forget that in the very same chapter God, only a few verses later reprimands the Jews and Christians for believing that only they will enter paradise, “And they say: None entereth paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian. These are their own desires. Say: Bring your proof (of what ye state) if ye are truthful. Nay, but whosoever surrendereth his purpose to Allah while doing good, his reward is with his Lord; and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve” (2:111-112), and declares in another verse the belief that will be accepted:

“And they say: Be Jews or Christians, then ye will be rightly guided. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Nay, but (we follow) the religion of Abraham, the upright, and he was not of the idolaters. Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered” (2:135-136).

They seem to forget that the simple message of Islam – submission to God, is that of all previous messages, and that there may be Christian Muslims, and Jewish Muslims. A recent case is the case of Reverend Ann Holmes Redding, a visiting assistant professor at Seattle University who remarked in 2005, "I am both Muslim and Christian, just like I'm both an American of African descent and a woman. I'm 100 percent both…It wasn't about intellect," she said. "All I know is the calling of my heart to Islam was very much something about my identity and who I am supposed to be. I could not not be a Muslim." They forget that, as Muhammad Asad explains, with that verse (2:62), the Quran:

“…lays down a fundamental doctrine of Islam. With a breadth of vision unparalleled in any other religious faith, the idea of "salvation" is here made conditional upon three elements only: belief in God, belief in the Day of Judgment, and righteous action in life. The statement of this doctrine at this juncture - that is, in the midst of an appeal to the children of Israel - is warranted by the false Jewish belief that their descent from Abraham entitles them to be regarded as "God's chosen people"”.

With this Satanic belief in abrogation, we have come to commit a great crime against ourselves, against and against others, something which our 'scholars' these days seem to be very good at. They seem relish repelling people from the religion, and oppose the spread of God's word. What they are doing is disbelieving the Quran, which says, "Do they not consider the Quran? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein many discrepancies" (4:82), and, “The word of God shall never change..." (10:64). Is it not easiest to altogether discard this concept, which has led to so much human misery. Its only use is political. It has no intellectual or moral value whatsoever. In fact, in some cases, it is opposed to humanity, and wishes for bloodshed.

My understanding of the concept is that similar to that of Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Muhammad Asad and others like them. Yusuf Ali says in his commentary of the verse (2:106):

“What is the meaning here? If we take it in a general sense it means that God's message from age to age is always the same, but that its form may differ according to the needs and exigencies of the time. Some commentators apply it also to the Ayat (revelation) of the Quran. There is nothing derogatory in this if we believe in progressive revelation. ...There may be express abrogation, or there may be "causing or permitting to forget." How many good and wise institutions gradually become obsolete by efflux of time? Then there is the gradual process of disuse or forgetting in evolution. This does not mean that eternal principles change. It is only a sign of Allah's infinite Power that His creation should take so many forms and shapes not only in the material world but in the world of man's thought and expression”.

The brilliant Muhammad Asad similarly writes:

“The principle laid down in this passage - relating to the supersession of the Biblical dispensation by that of the Qur’an - has given rise to an erroneous interpretation by many Muslim theologians. The word ayah ('message') occurring in this context is also used to denote a ‘verse’ of the Qur’an (because every one of these verses contains a message). Taking this restricted meaning of the term ayah, some scholars conclude from the above passage that certain verses of the Qur’an have been ‘abrogated’ by God’s command before the revelation of the Qur’an was completed. Apart from the fancifulness of this assertion which calls to mind the image of a human author correcting, on second thought, the proofs of his manuscript, deleting one passage and replacing it with another - there does not exist a single reliable Tradition to the effect that the Prophet ever declared a verse of the Qur’an to have been ‘abrogated’. At the root of the so-called ‘doctrine of abrogation’ may lie the inability of some early commentators to reconcile one Qur’anic passage with another, a difficulty which was overcome by declaring that one of the verses in question had been ‘abrogated’. This arbitrary procedure explains also why there is no unanimity whatsoever among the upholders of the ‘doctrine of abrogation’ as to which, and how many, Qur’an-verses have been affected by it; and furthermore, as to whether this alleged abrogation implies a total elimination of the verse from the context of the Qur’an, or only a cancellation of the specific ordinance or statement contained in it. In short, the ‘doctrine of abrogation’ has no basis in historical fact, and must be rejected ..."

Jeffrey Lang says:

“As I see it, the theory of abrogation, although widely accepted by Muslim scholars, has several weak points. To begin with, there is no explicit authenticated saying of Muhammed that states this theory or that asserts that some verse has permanently annulled another. All of the hadith (reports of sayings of the Prophet) that speak of abrogation are considered weak by Muslim experts. If a Companion of the Prophet felt that one verse permanently cancelled another, that was his or her personal interpretation. For Muslims, only a statement of Muhammed that a verse had been abrogated should be authoritative and there exist no reliable reports of this nature.

Verses 2:106 and 16:101 of the Quran are often cited in support of the theory of abrogation, but the context indicates that the annulled revelations referred to are those received by prophets that came before Prophet Muhammad; at the very least, this would be a very natural and plausible interpretation.

Finally, the theory of abrogation appears to claim that God has placed in the last revelation to mankind superfluous information and He has had to frequently correct Himself in the process of revealing it. This perception is very hard to square with the Quran’s depiction of God. Not surprisingly, quite a number of converts to Islam informed me that they were shocked and their faith severely shaken when they first discovered this theory.

Therefore, I feel that there is no real need or justification for the classical theory of abrogation. Yet without this theory, the Quran cannot be used to support waging war other than in self-defense or against oppression. This is proved by the fact that such a massive application of the theory of abrogation is needed to justify the type of military expansion advocated by the dar al Islam/dar al harb formula. Clearly, the Quran’s passages that deal with warfare weigh heavily against such unprovoked aggression.”

Another scholar worth quoting here is Abdul Hamid Abu Sulayman, from his aforementioned book, ‘The Crisis in the Muslim Mind’. The extract is long, but that is because it is extremely enlightening. I have attached it as an appendix together with a discussion, lest I get accused of using non-authoritative figure on the subject by the most wonderful Sheikh Muhammad Al- Ghazzali.

Is this not the easiest and best interpretation of the concept of abrogation, an interpretation that frees God and His book from human qualities, and gives it its due? Without abrogation, Islamic medical ethics will be wholesome and truly humane, and truly compatible with the morals of modern medicine. I hasten to add that, if the concept of abrogation is true, which it isn’t, then the words used by Thomas Paine to describe the Bible, as “a book of lies, wickedness, and blasphemy; for what can be greater blasphemy than to ascribe the wickedness of man to the orders of the Almighty?” are equally applicable to the Quran.

What I firmly believe in is that God, the author of the Qur’an, and the one who sent all the Prophets, last of all Muhammad (PBUH) for the guidance of humanity, cannot instruct humans to hate others, or hurt them, or kill them. This is what true Islam teaches, and if it were to teach otherwise, it would not be Islam.

Back to what we were discussing earlier. We were aiming to show how the GMC guidelines can be derived from Islam, from submitting to God. Many of the principle are common sense ethical principles that any decent human being will display. They do not need to be taught:

Make the care of your patient your first concern
Treat every patient politely and considerately
Respect the patient's dignity and privacy
Listen to patients and respect their views
Be honest and trustworthy

Nevertheless, there are several statement that are present in the Quran and what is likely to be genuine hadith that support all these statements.

Making the care of patients our first concern, and responsibility for them is directly connected with the very essence of the job, which is to benefit the sick. As explained by Bogle and Howard, “In the Hippocratic tradition it is axiomatic that the purpose of medicine is to benefit the sick”. We are advised by the Quran and the hadith to always do good, to excel in our work and to be kind and caring to the needy, the poor and the ill. A prototype verse is the following, “God commands justice and doing good…and giving relatives. And he forbids indecency and doing wrong and tyranny” (16:90)

Chapter 107 may also be quoted in full here in this context:

“Hast thou ever considered [the kind of man] who gives the lie to all moral law? Behold, it is this [kind of man] that thrusts the orphan away. And feels no urge to feed the needy. Woe, then, unto those praying ones. Whose hearts from their prayer are remote. Those who want only to be seen and praised, and, withal, deny all assistance [to their fellow-men]!”

On the subject of trust, Harun Yahya has the following comments to make:

“The Qur’an describes the rendering back one's trusts to those to whom they are due as a moral principle and a way to success. Believers should always respect the trust reposed in them and thus win others' confidence in return. Besides, believers should also determine to whom to hand the trusts, that is, to whom they are due. On this, the Qur’an delivers the following injunction:

“Allah commands you to render back your trusts to those to whom they are due; and when you judge between man and man, that you judge with justice: Verily how excellent is the teaching which He gives you! For Allah is He Who hears and sees all things.” (4:58)

Another verse states; “Whoever fulfills his promise and guards (against evil) - then surely Allah loves those who guard (against evil).” (3:76)

A trust may be something of financial value, or a task or a matter of responsibility. The believers should use their wisdom and sense of discrimination in determining those who are worthy of trust.”

The prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said, “God loves to see one’s job done to the level of itqan (excellence)”, and therefore seeing excellence in caring for patients (i.e. medicine) is a love of God. He also demanded responsibility in all professions in this famous reported statement:

“Each one of you is a shepherd. And each one of you will be asked about your flock. A ruler also is a shepherd and he will be asked about his flock. And every man is a shepherd to his family. And a woman is the custodian of her husband’s house and his children. Thus each one of you is a shepherd, and each one will be asked about his flock.”

Commenting on this hadith, Muhammad Ali Hashimi says:

“The sense of responsibility that the sincere Muslim feels when a member of his community is failing in some important regard disturbs him greatly. He cannot bear it, so he will hasten to deal with its causes in order to rectify the situation.”

The Prophet (PBUH) is also reported to have demanded people to “care for the sick, feed the hungry and set prisoners free”, and to have said, “Seeking knowledge is a duty of every Muslim; and Allah loves it when those in straits are helped or rescued”.

Treating every patient politely and considerately is a natural consequence of obedience to many verses in the Qu’ran. We are advised in communication skills sessions to always start off in the best fashion, “First impressions are critical and it is essential that the patient be put at ease by appropriate introductions and a friendly greeting (get up, shake hands or say namaste (or whatever is culturally appropriate) and look at the patient, not the notes). The clinician must ensure that the patient feels that he or she is the centre of interest, and should begin each interview by outlining the likely course of events and agreeing the objectives of the consultation.”

We are advised to smile, because as a recent article in the ‘Malta Medical Journal’ entitled, ‘A Smile a Day keeps the Lawyers Away’, put it, “A reassuring smile and a comforting touch can express far more than words and create a better doctor-patient relationship.”

Everyone is aware of the Muslim habit of greeting, the statement, "Assalamu alaikum", which means peace be to you. As Adil Salahi says, “The very wording helps generate a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. It is also common in its shorter and longer forms to all Muslim communities wherever they happen to be. Thus, when two Muslims meet who are total strangers to each other, the moment they use this greeting, they immediately feel that they have common grounds, even when they do not speak each other's languages.” The greeting is used by a Muslim to greet non-Muslims too, as the Quran says, “When a greeting is offered you, answer it with an even better greeting, or (at least) with its like. God keeps count of all things." (4: 86).

Commenting on the hadith, “A Muslim has a right against his fellow Muslim in six ways.' Asked what were these, the Prophet said, (1)When you meet him, greet him; (2) if he invites you, accept his invitation; (3) if he seeks your advice, give him an honest and sincere advice; (4) if he sneezes and praises God, bless him; (5) if he falls ill, visit him; and (6) if he dies, attend his funeral”, Adil Salahi states, “The Hadith is clear in making it a duty of a Muslim to offer a greeting to his fellow-Muslim when they meet. The one who takes the initiative is in a better position.”

Similarly, the Muslim is advised to keep a smiling face as much as he can. In his book Hashimi devotes a nice section to this. He says,

“The Muslim should always be pure of heart and cheerful of countenance. He should not meet his brothers except with warmth and smiles, as the Prophet (PBUH) said:

“Don’t belittle any good deed even to meet your brothers with a smiling face”. He also said: “Your smile in the face of your brothers is an act of charity.”…The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to meet his companions with a smiling face. A hadith narrated by a prominent Companion stands witness to that. Jareer ibn Abdullah Al-Bajali reported, “Since the day I accepted Islam, I always found him (the Prophet) smiling whenever I met him”. Ali said, “When two Muslims meet and converse, Allah will forgive the one who has the most cheerful face”

With regards to polite speech, one of the best examples of how this is commaned is when the Prophet Moses and Aaron (PBUT) approached the evil Pharaoh with God’s message. God demanded them to talk politely to him, “O Moses. I have prepared thee for Myself (for service). Go, thou and thy brother, with My tokens, and be not faint in remembrance of Me. Go, both of you, unto Pharaoh. Lo! He hath transgressed (the bounds). But speak to him mildly; perchance he may take warning or fear (Allah)" (20:40-44). And this is the man who did not rebel against a nation, but against the very Creator!

We are advised by the Qur’an to, “Call unto the way of the truth with wisdom and fair exhortation, and reason with them in the better way. Lo! Thy Lord is Best Aware of him who strayeth from His way, and He is Best Aware of those who go aright” (16:125).This is a basic principle of Islamic communication to all people, whether they are atheists, Christians, Jews or indeed Muslims.

Respect for the patients’ dignity goes under the greater umbrella of respect for humanity. Respecting patients’ privacy goes under the greater umbrella of respect for confidentiality, which of course is one of the other GMC principles, “Respect and protect confidential information”, which we shall turn to later again.

Respect for humanity is implied when God says, "Indeed, We have honored the children of Adam; provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favors, above a great part of Our Creation." (Al-Isra' 17:70), and ordered the angels to bow down for its creation. As explained by one writer:

“Since God is the absolute and the sole master of men and the universe, and since He has given each man human dignity and honor, and breathed into him of His own spirit, it follows that men are essentially the same. In fact, the only differences between them are such artificial ones as nationality, color, or race. Thus, all human beings are equal and form one universal community that is united in its submission and obedience to God. And at the center of this universal brotherhood is the Islamic confession of the oneness of God that, by extension, includes the oneness and brotherhood of humanity”.

Respect for the privacy of others is preordained in Islam. On this topic Dr. Hossam Arafa writes:

“The physician is usually confided in by a patient, his family, his relatives, and by the community at large. This confidence placed in him by the community and relatives requires him to be sincere in his treatment and counseling. He should, above all, seek to please Allah for his efforts. The physician is entrusted with the souls and the privacy of others. It is a trust he should hold properly. In describing the believers, Allah the Almighty said: "[they are] Those who faithfully observe their trusts and their convents." Keeping patients' information in confidence is a sign of honesty”.

Hashimi also writes:

“Another characteristic of the true Muslim is that he keeps secrets and does not disclose anything that he been entrusted to him. Keeping secrets is a sign of manhood, and of strength of character. This was the attitude of the best of men and women of Islam, those who had been truly guided by its teachings. This was one of their best and most prominent characteristics”

In this context, it is interesting to mention a recent article in ‘The Times’ (March 29th 2007) with the headline, ‘Hewitt attacks Muslim GPs for breaching female privacy’, which says:

“Muslim GPs fail to respect the confidentiality of Muslim women patients, Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, has claimed. Ms Hewitt, who represents a constituency in Leicester with a large ethnic minority community, said: “I have had Muslim women give me chapter and verse on very distressing breaches of confidentiality by Muslim GPs. “Some women patients feel they cannot trust their own GP. If they talk to him about a very difficult situation concerning domestic violence or sexual health problems they fear that he will share that with other members of the community.” A report published last year by the Muslim Women’s Network lends some support to Ms Hewitt’s charges. It said: “Women did not trust professionals from within their own communities to be always bound by professional rules of confidentiality.” The report is based on conversations with Muslim women throughout the country.”

If this were truly the case, then it is about time those doctors listen to the teachings of their religion and take their work seriously.

Being a good listener is a property of all the Prophets and their followers, for without this quality how could they live by what the Messengers taught (the messengers may be prophets, angels (as in the case of Gabriel and the Prophet Muhammad) or even God (who addressed the prophet Moses (PBUH) directly, as we learn from the following verses, “But when he came to the fire, a voice was heard: "O Moses! Verily I am thy Lord! Therefore (in My presence) put off thy shoes: thou art in the sacred valley Tuwa. I have chosen thee: listen, then, to the inspiration (sent to thee)” (20:11-13).

The traditions illustrate to us how good the prophet (PBUH) was in listening to the worries of his community, respecting their opinion, and how he used to address each person according to his or her intelligence. This is directly connected with another point we mentioned above, giving patients information in a way they can understand. He and his companions advised us to, “Address people according their intellects” (خاطبوا الناس على قدر عقولهم ). He is reported to have said, “If the slave of Allah would like to come closer to Him, he should do so by performing a good deed with his intellect, this will bring them swiftly forward. We the prophets talk to people according to the strength of their intellect. All righteous deeds are rewarded and the best rewards result from an action stemmed from intellect”.

There is no greater number of verses in the Quran and teachings of the prophets than those demanding honesty, veracity and trustworthiness. It would be stretching this essay to many volumes to cite all of them. It suffices to say that the Prophet (PBUH), even before his message, was called, ‘Al-Sadiq Al-Amin’, ‘The Truthful Trustworthy one’.

As for other GMC principles, they can all also be derived from Islamic teachings. The demand to ‘respect the rights of patients to be fully involved in decisions about their care’ is derived from the principle of autonomy and freedom, which are fundamental principles of Islam. According to Islam, we are not automatons, we are not ‘predestined’ in the traditional understanding of the term. Man is endowed with free will to choose whatsoever he desires. God says, “We showed him the Way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (rests on his will)” (76:3).

As one Islamic thinker recently explained:

“The Holy Qur'an has indicated, in more than one way, that man is a free agent. It declares that man is capable of changing his condition.

"Surely the Almighty changes not the condition of a people unless they change that which is in themselves" (13:11).

Were man predestined to take a certain course, he would not be able to change that course. Whatever he does or avoids will be done or avoided, not by choice, but by necessity.

The Holy Qur'an has, also, declared that God does not ask the individual to do the impossible, nor does He place hardship on His servants:

"The Almighty imposes not on a soul a duty but to the extent of its ability" (2:286).

"The Almighty desires not to place a hardship on you but He desires to purify you and to complete His favor upon you, so that you may be thankful" (5:8)

For example, if man were predestined not to pray or to commit a murder and God tells him not to kill or to pray, He will be placing the greatest hardship on him, and He will be asking him to do what is impossible for him. He will not be asking him to do what is within his ability because he was predestined, before he was born, to kill and not to pray. Thus, He would not be able to comply with the order of God. The very fact that he is commanded to pray and prohibited from killing indicates that God views His human servant as a free creature, and that whatever he is commanded to do or not to do is within his ability.

The Holy Qur'an has, also, indicated man's freedom by stating and stressing the responsibility of every individual for what he does:

"Whoever goes aright, for his own soul he goes aright; and whoever goes astray, to his own detriment he goes astray." 39:41

"And no bearer of a burden bears another's burden .... " 53:38

"Say: O people, the truth has come to you from your Lord; So whoever goes aright, goes aright only for the good of his own soul: and whoever errs, he errs only against it" (10:108).

The very concept of responsibility of the individual indicates clearly that the individual is a free agent. Otherwise, he cannot be held responsible for anything that may be produced by him. Responsibility is inseparable from freedom.”

Finally, it is absolutely correct to say that, although the reality of ‘Muslim nations’ may reveal otherwise, knowing the degree of totalitarianism and despotism and censorship that proceeds therein, “Islam guarantees maximum freedom for the people - freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom to travel, and freedom of economy (2:256, 10:99, 88:21-22).” Without freedom of choice, man would not be man.

Keeping one’s professional knowledge and skills up to date and recognizing the limits of professional competence are highlighted in several statements, directly and indirectly.

The book, ‘The Ideal Muslim’ by Ali Hashimi has a section on, ‘Continually seeking knowledge until death’, where he says:

“True knowledge does not mean obtaining a degree or diploma that will let one earn an income and guarantee a good standard of living, after which one turns away from learning and does not explore the treasure of knowledge any further; true learning means that one continues to read and study, increasing one's learning day by day, in accordance with the words of the Qur'an, "...But say, 'O my Lord! Advance me in knowledge.'" (Qur'an 20: 114)

Our righteous predecessors never stopped seeking to increase their knowledge, no matter how high a level of learning they had achieved, and they would continue their pursuit until the end of their lives. They believed that knowledge was a living thing that would thrive if it were actively pursued, but would wither and perish if it were ignored and abandoned. Many sayings are attributed to them that eloquently express their respect for learning and their keenness to acquire knowledge. Examples of their sayings are given below.

Imam Ibn Abdul-Barr reported that Ibn Abi Ghassan said: "So long as you are seeking knowledge you are knowledgeable, but as soon as you abandon this pursuit you become ignorant."

Imam Malik said: "No one who has knowledge should stop seeking knowledge." Imam Abdullah Bin Al-Mubarak was asked: "How long will you seek knowledge?" He said, "Until I die, for probably I have not yet learnt the things that will benefit me most." Imam Abu 'Amr Bin Al-'Ala' was asked: "For how long does it befit a man to seek knowledge?" He said, "For as long as he has life in him."

Imam Sufyan Bin 'Uyaynah gave an excellent answer when he was asked, "Who is most in need of seeking knowledge?" He said: "Those who have the most knowledge." He was asked, "Why?" and he replied, "Because if they make a mistake, it is worse."

Such was Imam Fakhr ad-Deen ar-Razi (d. 606 AH), the great mufassir (Qur'anic exegete) and prominent scholar in philosophy ('llm al-kalam) and other disciplines, who authored many books. Allah gave him such fame in knowledge that people would come from all over to see him whenever he visited a city.
When he came to the city of Merv (in Turkmenistan), flocks of scholars and students came to have the privilege of listening to and learning from him. Among the seekers of knowledge who attended his circle was a young man, less than 20-years-old, who was very well-versed in literature and genealogy. When Imam Razi realized that this student was expert in genealogy, a field in which he knew very little, he asked this student to teach him.

He did not find it unacceptable to become the student of his student, and he even made him sit in the teacher's place while he himself sat at his feet. Such an act was characteristic of Imam Fakhr ad-Deen ar-Razi, and it did not detract from his high status, as he was the Imam of his age.

This remarkable story was told by the literary historian Yaaqoot al-Hamwi in his book Mu'jam al-Udabaa' (Dictionary of literary authors), where he gives a biography of 'Aziz ad-Deen Isma'eel Bin Al-Hasan Al-Marwazi An-Nassabah Al-Husayni, whom Yaaqoot met and spent much time with, so was able to write a comprehensive biography of him. In this biography he says:

"Aziz ad-Deen told me: 'Imam Fakhr Ad-Deen Ar-Razi went to Merv. He had such a great reputation and was held in such awe that nobody dared to argue with him; they would barely breathe in his presence. I went to meet him, and I often went to study with him.

One day he said to me: 'I would like you to write me a book giving the genealogy of At-Talibiyeen (the descendants of Abu Taalib) so that I may study it, for I do not want to remain ignorant of it.' I asked him: 'Do you want it presented as a family tree, or written down as a narrative?' He said, 'A family tree cannot be learnt by heart. I want something that I can memorize.' So I went away and wrote the book, which I called Al-Fakhri. When I brought it to him, he took it, then got up from his mattress, sat on the mat, and told me to sit in the place he had just vacated.

I thought this was too much, and told him: 'I am your servant.' He reprimanded me severely, saying, 'Sit where I tell you!' Allah knows, I felt that I had no choice but to sit where he told me. Then he began to read the book to me, while he was sitting at my feet, asking me about anything he did not understand, until he finished the book. When he had finished, he said, 'Now sit wherever you wish, for in this field of knowledge you are my teacher and I am your student, and it is not right for the student to sit anywhere but at the feet of his teacher.' So I got up, and he sat in his rightful place, and I began to read to him, sitting where he had sat previously."

After quoting this incident, Yaaqoot said, "Indeed this is good manners, especially for a man who enjoys such a high status."

How great was the love and respect these scholars gave to knowledge! How highly they regarded it, and how great is the need for the later generation to learn from the attitude of their forbears!”

In the subsequent section, Hashimi explains that the ideal Muslim, “should be proficient in his specialty…gives it all his energy and pays a great deal of attention to it. He approaches it like a Muslim who believes that it is a religious obligation to work in his field of specialization, whether it is is shariah or in another area of religious knowledge, or in another field such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, astronomy, medicine, industry, commerce etc…He should keep abreast of developments in his field through continual reading and study in all its aspects.” While I do not agree with his reasoning, that the ideal Muslim should do this “because in these times, the smart Muslim is the one who achieves great academic success, which will raise his status in the eyes of other people. This in turn will enhance his da’awah, so long as he presents it sincerely and earnestly, and in accordance with the spirit of Islam and its teachings about knowledge”, as I feel each of those fields of knowledge has its own intrinsic value, and should be pursued not because it is in the interest of ‘Islam’ (as traditionally understood by Hashimi and others like him) but because it is in the interest of humanity, and the glorification of God. If Hashimi meant here the pure form of Islam we have been talking about he is absolutely spot on. Alas, he isn’t.

As for recognizing the limits of one’s knowledge and competence, there are many traditions which advise people to profess their ignorance over a matter. This is a very important matter in the modern medical world, which I notice at its worst in GPs, many of whom have a tendency to make up stories about illnesses (particularly scientific details like aetiology and pathogenesis) rather than say, “I do not know”. On this issue, in an article entitled, ‘Through the Golden Chalkboard: Twelve Teaching Pearls on the Teaching-Learning Process in Psychiatry’, Ira D. Glick and Jonathan F. Borus, writing in ‘Academic Psychiatry’ (30:5, September-October 2006), say in the section, ‘Don’t Be Afraid To Say “I Don’t Know”’:

“Some of our former teachers always had answers for everything (regardless of how little data were available or how poorly informed they were). If 50% of things are eventually proven wrong, we cannot profess to know everything.”

They then proceed to say:

“It takes a fair bit of effort, but professing ignorance and exposing areas of further exploration can be a useful way to get learners involved in finding answers, which increases learning”.

Are we too proud to follow the example of the angels, who when asked by God about certain things, said, “"Glory be to You, we have no knowledge except what you have taught us. Verily, it is You Who is All-Knowing, All-Wise” (2:32). Or the example of Omar Ibn Al-Khattab and Imaam Maalik Ibn Anas, both of whom are credited with making the statement, “Saying "I don't know?" is Half of Knowledge”. Or even the example of Socrates, who is reported to have said via Plato, “I seem to be wiser than this man in so far as I do not think I know what I do not know”.

And of course, the pretense of knowledge goes under the greater umbrella of dishonesty and deception, which of course is against other ethical principles.

Protecting patient’s confidentiality, goes under the greater umbrella of respect for the patients autonomy and sense of individuality and privacy, and the aim to do not harm, since breaching it, increases the sense of vulnerability and shame.

Hashimi, writing under the heading, ‘He keeps secrets’ says:

“Another characteristic of the true Muslim is that he keeps secrets and does not disclose anything that has been entrusted to him. Keeping secrets is a sign of manhood, and of strength of character. This was the attitude of the best men and women of Islam, those who had been truly guided by its teachings. This was one of their best and most prominent characteristics”.
In an article in ‘Paediatrics’ (Vol. 108 No. 4 October 2001, pp. 965-971), entitled, ‘Issues in Islamic Biomedical Ethics: A Primer for the Pediatrician’, Kamyar M. Hedayat and Roya Pirzadeh write the following:

“Despite the strong emphasis on the family in Islam, the right to patient confidentiality is considered higher and more compelling. The principle to maintain patient confidentiality is considered the highest virtue of a Muslim physician. In Islam, when a patient reaches the age of maturity, the physician is not obligated to reveal any matters that his patient has confided in him to his parents or anyone else. This includes admissions of premarital sex. Muslim parents may not be aware that Islam grants this type of confidentiality to dependents and may expect to be informed of private conversations between their adolescent and the physician”.

As for the guideline about making sure that one’s personal beliefs do not prejudice patient's care, the history of Islam is replete with examples of excellent treatment toward everyone from the Muslims. Hashimi, writing under the heading, ‘His generosity is directed towards both Muslim and non-Muslim neighbours’ says:

“The true Muslim does not restrict his good treatment only to neighbors who are related to him or who are Muslims, but he extends it to non-Muslim neighbors too, so that the tolerance of Islam may spread to all people, regardless of their race or religion. The eminent Sahabi ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr had a sheep slaughtered and asked his slave, “Did you give some meat to our Jewish neighbor? For I heard the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) say, ‘Jibril kept on enjoining the good treatment of neighbors to the extent that I thought he would include neighbors as heirs.’” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The People of the Book have lived among Muslims for centuries, knowing that they, their honor, their wealth and their beliefs are secure, and enjoying good neighborly relations, good treatment and freedom of worship. Evidence of this is seen in the continued existence of their ancient churches, clinging to mountaintops, surrounded by thousands of Muslims who uphold the well-being of their Jewish and Christian neighbors in accordance with Qur’anic teachings:

“Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for “your” Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loves those who are just.” (Qur’an 60:8)”

The injunctions to ‘Act quickly to protect patients from risk if you have good reason to believe that you or a colleague may not be fit to practise’ and ‘Work with colleagues in the ways that best serve patients' interests’ go under the greater umbrella of enjoining what is good and stopping what is wrong.

Finally, the injunction to, ‘Avoid abusing your position as a doctor’ goes under the umbrella of respect for one’s profession, and making people keep trust in it. These are logical consequences of many of our aforementioned statements.

In conclusion then, the GMC guidelines can be derived from Islamic teachings quite easily, with the big difference being that Islamic teachings are based on a solid foundation, namely belief in God and a purpose in life, whereas the GMC’s aren’t. Consequently, the GMC guidelines are weaker, and more liable to be abused, and this will continue to be the case until the love and fear of God is instilled into them.


Another scholar worth quoting here is Abdul Hamid Abu Sulayman, from his aforementioned book, ‘The Crisis in the Muslim Mind’. The extract is long, but that is because it is extremely enlightening:

“The traditional studies of the Qur'an and the Sunnah often confuse the one with the other and actually dispute each other's positions and the ways In which they are interrelated. It Is almost impossible to discern in these studies any sort of distinguishing role or any particular contribution for either of them. This is why contemporary Islamic studies have been overshadowed by traditional historical taqlid and the concept of abrogation (naskh), with the result that the wisdom of the higher purposes of the Shari'ah and the concept of a relevant and responsive fiqh were lost. In addition, the static Intellectual atmosphere resulted in the confusion of such elements as time and place dimensions, and the position of specific and contextualized texts in relation to the general and universal meanings of the original revelation, and to the nature of humanity and the universe.

Such a state of affairs is contrary to what we find in the record of the Sunnah itself or to what we know of the lives of the khulafa' and their contemporaries. Thus, for example, the study of the Sunnah was transformed into a complex study of the formalities of transmitting and relaying hadiths. This is not to deny the importance of these studies, but to point out that centuries have passed since these matters were essentially settled, classified, and codified. The tragedy is that the meaning and relevance of these same hadiths have not received nearly the same amount of scholarly attention….

Another traditional issue of Islamic thought that represents the conditions mentioned above, including the gulf between the intellectual and political leadership, and one which has yet to be settled, is the abrogation (naskh) of text In the Qur'an and the Sunnah. The widely held and accepted opinion on this issue is that the correct legal ruling or teaching belonged to the last revealed text, so that the previously understood meanings and rulings derived from the earlier text would be annulled. This annulment, however, did not necessarily take into account the circumstances around which the ruling revolved or the wisdom behind the earlier legislation. In this way, and despite the discrepancy between the two cases in content and circumstances, the concept of naskh in Islamic law became almost synonymous with the concept of abrogation in man-made legal systems in which later legislation is given precedence over earlier legislation owing to the differences In circumstances.

This concept, generally speaking, leads to the supposition that all Islamic legislation and social organization is to be patterned after the example of Mad7mah during the last days of the Prophet and subsequent to the conquest of Makkah. This may be referred to as the "second Madinan period" as distinguished from the "first Madinan period." The first Madinan period was characterized by fear, frailty, and deficiency, for it was a time of building amidst a hostile environment. In my opinion, the time of the Prophet can be divided into three distinct stages: the "Makkan period" (the Initial phase during which an Individual propagational style was used to spread Islam. This was a period in which the fundamentals of belief and the principles of change were suggested to society at large), the "first Mad-man period," and the "second Madinan period."

A comprehensive look at the progression of revelation and the prophetic mission will show the policies and the attempts used to deal with varying circumstances and situations while maintaining the same basic principles stemming from a single divine source. The Makkan period, as It represents the stage of propagation and reform based on new and higher principles, was concerned with the call, dialogue with fundamentals, and with generalizations. It is also for this reason that the Prophet used to emphasize to his followers never to use confrontational methods or to return open hostility with hostility. Regardless of the price they had to pay in suffering, the early Muslims were never to turn away from the basic issue: the reform of society.

Moreover this was, generally speaking, a political issue, and the only thing that can Influence politicians is politics. Furthermore, a nonviolent response to violence exposes the aggressor before the conscience of the world, while the issue under contention remains a point of focus, especially for sympathy, regardless of its details.

The first Madman period took place before the truce of Hudaybiyah, at a time when the Muslims were forming their own polity In the face of conspiracies and alliances of pagan Arabian tribes with the Jews. Thus, we find that the dominant characteristics of this period were discipline and sacrifice as well as the use of force in answering force in order to make the enemies afraid and discourage them from ever again attempting to use violence against the Muslims.

The second Madinan period, from Hudaybiyah to the time when the new Muslim state and society had gained absolute ascendancy over all its adversaries, was characterized by its completion of the detailed organizational and social arrangements for society and for ensuring its progress and protection. This was also a period during which the new Muslim state dealt with forbearance and understanding toward its enemies and neighbors.

Here we may note that the way things were done and the nature of legislation at the time, even though they represented a similar vision and goal, reflected policies connected to the realities of that period and stage of development. Moreover, these were aimed at Influencing, directing, and bringing about fruitful change in those conditions.

In that period, any concept of action or legislation which did not take the specific nature of that action or legislation into consideration would have been the same as a crime against the thought of the Ummah, for it would have transformed the guidance of Islam into theoretical chains divorced from the surrounding actualities and circumstances and from the policies and strategies appropriate to each stage of development.

Thus the concept of naskh as the abrogation of the earlier by the latter in a strict academic and legalistic fashion is something which, in this day and age, cannot possibly have any sort of application outside of institutions run on strictly parliamentary lines. (The obvious reason for this Is that such Institutions are the only ones In which there are established guidelines for carrying out legislative decisions.) Thus, whatever is legislated subsequently on any particular issue will automatically cause the earlier legislation to become legally null and void. This, however, Is an entirely different matter from the Issue of interpreting a text from revelation, or turning to It for guidance In human affairs at any time and in any place.

The concept of naskh, as traditionally elaborated, reflects a static understanding in the methodology of Islamic thought, for it acts without taking notice of the difference between the general and universalist nature of the Qur'anic teachings as opposed to the specific and particularized treatment of subjects found In the Sunnah. The traditional concept of naskh also reflects a total lack of appreciation for the elements of time and place In the process of Interpreting and applying texts, as well as In comparing and analyzing them. This matter Is clearly illustrated in the limited attention paid to the asbab al nuzul (the study of what occasioned the revelation of verses in the Qur'an) and the lack of scholarly works on the subject. The scholarly attention paid to what occasioned the sayings and deeds of the Prophet and their chronology was even less.

The traditional concept of naskh prevalent In methodological usul studies (a concept which spelled contradiction and abrogation along the lines of man-made legislation) immediately jars the sensibilities of the modern scholar, thinker, legislator, or leader who looks to the prophetic period for guidance, legal rulings, policies, Ideas, and solutions to current situations. While current situations may share some common elements with events of the prophetic period, the differences are far more numerous.

The Muslim student of today will notice that the concept of naskh in its traditional form actually came Into conflict with many of the basic principles of revelation, actually nullifying or limiting the scope of their applicability to include only as much as was relevant during the second Madman period.

Two examples of the negative effects of this concept of naskh are the issue of relations between Muslims and non-Muslims and the effect that mistaken interpretation had on matters like da'wah, international relations, Islamic law, and political strategy.

In the field of Muslim-non-Muslim relations, we find that the "verse of the sword"

And fight the pagans wherever you encounter them (9:5).

is a clear example of the negative effects of the classical interpretation of naskh as annulment. This verse was revealed late in the second Mad-man period and at a time when the Muslims enjoyed power and dominance over their enemies, the pagan Arabs who had for nearly twenty years opposed the mission and message of Islam through open hostility, conspiracy, and the repeated breaking of treaties, despite the diplomacy, peacemaking Initiatives, and patience of the Muslims and the Muslim state. Thus the Qur'an commanded the Muslims to fight the intractable and obstinate pagan bedouins until they submitted to Islam and became members of Its structured and civilized society. Only then would their situation Improve and their aggression cease. But here we discover that the traditional interpretation of naskh failed to derive the desired perspectives from this situation, those of reform, refining character, and meeting injustice and oppression with deterrent force. Instead, the traditional Interpretation was carried over into the fields of dawah, relations with others, and every other form of discourse with non-Muslims. By extracting similarities from these events, all sense of how to deal with equals, give doers of good their due, and soften the hearts of those who appear to be coming close to Islam Is lost. Thus tolerance as a concept became a conditioned value, one qualified and relegated to particular situations only, while the concept of limiting the Individual's freedom of religious belief became a hard and fast rule.

Likewise, the meaning of the Qur'anic term "People of the Book" (and the dealings the Prophet had with them) lost its comprehensiveness and so excluded people of all other enlightened and civilized religions. Instead, the term was understood as limited only to those mentioned specifically and unambiguously; the Jews, the Christians, and the Magians.

This issue and its far-reaching repercussions have been discussed in my book, The Islamic Theory of International Relations: New Directions for Islamic Methodology and Thought. There, it was concluded that apparent contradictions between the revealed texts and Shari'ah rulings do not necessarily indicate that one must have been abrogated or annulled. Rather, the true significance of such contradictions is that human life and society, when faced with different conditions, require different forms of regulation. Thus, the application of a particular Shari'ah ruling depends upon the prevailing circumstances For example, when non-Muslims live in peace with Muslims and deal with them decently, Muslims must reciprocate. But when non-Muslims act aggressively toward Islam and Muslims, then the only proper Muslim response is one of confrontation and even open hostilities. There can be no mistaking the one position for the other due to a mistaken understanding of naskh. In other words, the legal ruling applied depends upon the particular situation. However, if the circumstances change, it is senseless to insist on maintaining an irrelevant ruling. Rather, a new ruling that takes into account the new conditions must be sought. In this way, we may understand the "verse of the sword" as being completely compatible with those Qur'anic verses that insist on tolerance and forbearance toward non-Muslims.

It is for this reason that the interpretation of this verse as the final revealed word on the subject, as well as the Prophet's final practice, is in fact in opposition to the concept of Islam's finality and universal mission.”

Next, Al-Ghazzali:

“The position taken by all the modern scholars whom I have met, or listened to, or whose works I have read, is contrary to the understanding of naskh that became so widespread among the later exegetes, namely that there exists naskh (if accepted) as meaning the abrogation of verses of the Qur'an. I found that the Shaykh, Jurist and Historian, al-Khidri, categorically rejected this meaning of naskh. He stated: "It does not occur except to make specific, or limit, or explain that which is otherwise general and unconditional." Shaykh Rashid Rida reiterated the same even more clearly, referring to the verse: "We do not abrogate (naskh) a sign or cause it to be forgotten . . . (al-Baqara:106).

He explained that an ayah can be in the form of religious obligations (ayat taklifiyyah) or cosmic phenomena (ayat takwiniyyah), and that which is abrogated in Sura al-Baqara are the latter; there are no commandments abrogated by the verse. The meaning of takwiniyyah is well known; it is those occurrences contrary to natural laws (miracles) with which the Prophets were assisted. . . Such phenomena are the things that change with the passage of time. As for the verses of commandments, I studied them carefully vis a vis the verse: "And if we substitute one sign for another -- and Allah knows best what He reveals in stages -- they say, thou art but a forger . . . (Q16:101)."

Al-Khazin1 said: "This verse came as a response to the allegations that Muhammad decides a ruling, then abrogates it!" I thereupon asked myself: "The verse (referred to) is from al-Nahl which is a Meccan revelation; where then are the laws at which the polytheists were poking fun -- (claiming) that they were abrogated after having been revealed, in such a manner that confusion resulted in the establishment of the legislation? There are no such laws. And as for as the purported reason for the revelation of this verse -- it is a lie."2 There was none from among the polytheists claiming that Muhammad was legislating edicts and then abrogating them . . . absolutely none -- for there was no law in Mecca that was abrogated by a verse revealed in Mecca. Neither in the history of revelation, nor in the history of jurisprudence is it established that any law was revealed at Mecca and then later cancelled by a verse revealed in that same city. The Qur'an does not state this.

The conjecture therefore is baseless; there are no laws that abrogate the meaning of the verse. All we have occurring in Mecca are several verses that were looked at, in such a manner that there was a reduction, as for example in Allah's words: "Now Allah has lightened your task, for He knows that there is weakness in you . . . " (Q8:66).

The first verse ordered that one man should stand against ten (of the enemy), then it was reduced to standing against two (Q8:65,66). Shaykh al-Khidri, may God be pleased with him, stated: "This is a permission based on circumstance, and permission based on circumstance is not considered as abrogation. The permanent lasting ruling is that a Muslim should stand against ten, and he is enjoined to do this. The lessened aspect of facing only two is a permission and this is the correct ruling."

The verse: "He knows that you cannot keep count thereof, so He has turned to you in mercy. Read therefore of the Qur'an that which is easy for you. He knows that there may be some among you in ill-health, others travelling through the land seeking of Allah's bounty, and others fighting in Allah's cause. Read therefore of the Qur'an as is easy for you . . . " (Q73:20) is said to have abrogated the first part of the chapter al-Muzzammil. This however, is not so, for the chapter is directed to the Prophet and ordains that he prays during the night, and this night prayer remained obligatory upon him until the day he died. This order is reiterated in the chapter al-Isra': "And from (a portion of) the night exert yourself (in prayer), an additional prayer for you; perchance your Lord will raise you to a station of praiseworthiness" (17:79). What needs to be noted here is that many companions emulated the Prophet in this night prayer in the manner that is described in the first part of chapter al-Muzzammil. But God, being aware of the state of affairs of the group that worked extremely hard during the day at their livelihood, a group which, unlike the bearer of the revealed message, was not enjoined with this commandment, thus said: "Read therefore as much of the Qur'an as is easy for you . . . "3 The Prophet, however, (as) the bearer of the revelation, still remained responsible for performing the night prayer; there is then absolutely no abrogation in the verse.

The allegation that 120 verses on the invitation to Islam were abrogated by the verse of the sword4, is in fact one of crassest stupidity and only serves to show that the great number of Muslims are in a stage of regression of either knowledge or intelligence in our time, and have become ignorant of the Qur'an. As a result of this ignorance therefore, they have forgotten how to call to the way of God, how to facilitate the call to Islam, and how to be proper examples, and how to present a good perspective. Perhaps this is the reason for the failure in the propagation of Islam, and the prolonged stagnation of the Islamic message being effected -- for it has been assumed that the sword is that which fulfills the obligation of delivering the message. Such a concept is, by the agreement of all those who are rational and discerning, totally absurd.

This tale of abrogation then, or the notion of embalming of some verses, in that such verses are present but are inoperative, is a baseless one. There is no verse in the Qur'an which may be said to be out of commission, and is therefore now invalid; this is nonsense. Each verse is potentially valid, but it is He, the Legislator who knows the conditions in which the verses may be applied, and it is in this manner that the Qur'anic verses are to be considered in light of the state of human affairs -- with wisdom and exhortation. Does not the context of the verse "We do not abrogate an ayah or cause it to be forgotten" (Q2:106) denote that the matter pertains to the abrogation of the laws of previous religions by a new one?

It is obvious that there is no room for any assumption that abrogation of responsibility is what is meant here. Shaykh Rashid Rida mentioned this topic, pointing out that the words in the verse (taken in conjunction with those immediately in the following verse are): "We do not nansakh an ayah or cause it to be forgotten (except that) we come with a better one or a similar one. Do you not know that Allah is all powerful over everything? (Q2:106)" -- refer to the Divine Omnipotence and not to the laws of (human) responsibility. For if it were in the latter case, the verse would have read for example: "Do you not know that God is the Omniscient," the Legislator rather than "the Omnipotent."

The verse "Do you wish to ask your Messenger as Moses was asked aforetime?" (Q2:108) manifestly shows that the verse is referring to the miraculous signs (ayat al-kawniyah). For what was it about which Moses was asked aforetime? It was "We wish to see Allah clearly"; "we wish this and that"; people wanted the cosmological signs, or miracles which verified the message of Muhammad. The use of the expression "aforetime" is to indicate reference to the children of Israel.

Allah says: "And if it is said to them 'Believe in what Allah has revealed,' they say we believe in what was revealed to us, and reject that which has come afterwards -- even though the latter is true, verifying what is with them. Say: Why then did you kill the Prophets of God before if you indeed were believers?" (Q2:91)

The address to them begins by pointing out that they are not believers in what they profess, nor in that which has come unto others. It goes on further to state: "Those of the People of the Book and the polytheists do not wish that anything good should be revealed to you from your Lord. But God singles out for His mercy whosoever He wishes. Indeed God is the Lord of Mighty Grace."

The verses here are very clear that when the Qur'an came down, it was as a mercy from Allah to the Arabs, and that He selected them for His special grace. He gave them a new message, not that which had previously come down to the previous Prophets, nor like that which before had been abetted by the raising of the Mountain, nor that which sometimes was completed by the creation of miracles.

The revelation of the Qur'an, as far as the abrogation of the signs of creation is concerned, is an abrogation of some of the legislation of the People of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians). The Qur'an no doubt cancelled some of the laws of the former religions, and started by reshaping the human consciousness anew, by awakening its talents and directing it to Allah. There is no contradiction in the Qur'an whatsoever, for every verse has a context within which it functions”.
[1] The great Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno once mentioned the following revealing story, “Talking to a peasant one day, I proposed to him the hypothesis that there might indeed be a God who governs heaven and earth, a Consciousness of the Universe, but that for all that the soul of every man may not be immortal in the traditional and concrete sense. He replied: “Then wherefore God?”” Belief in God and an afterlife come hand in hand. Hence the wisdom of the Quranic verse, “Lo! Those who believe (in that which is revealed unto thee, Muhammad), and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabaeans - whoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right - surely their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.” (2:52).
[2] I am not the most knowledgeable person about Hindu and Sikh philosophies, but it strikes me as very bizarre to know, as we are told in the ‘Lecture Notes on Medical Ethics and Law’, that “Both Hinduism and Sikhism take a duty-based rather than righs-based approach to ethics. Indeed there is no word for ‘rights’ in the traditional Hindu and Sikh languages.” Both religions claim to believe in God or gods.
[3] I am not an expert on all of Qadhi’s personal opinions, but fell he is not very wise in many of the opinions that he has. His opinions on abrogation strike me as incredibly foolish, and his belief that Muhammad Muhsin Khan and Taqi Hilali’s translation of the Quran “as undoubtedly the finest in terms of being free of inaccurate interpretations”, a translation that begins with describing the “people who have gone astray” mentioned in Surat Al-Fatiha as the Christians, and those who God is angry with, as the Jews, like the following, “Al-Jihâd (holy fighting) in Allâh’s Cause (with full force of numbers and weaponry) is given the utmost importance in Islam and is one of its pillars (on which it stands). By Jihâd Islam is established, Allâh’s Word is made superior (His Word being Lâ ilaha illallâh which means none has the right to be worshipped but Allâh), and His religion (Islam) is propagated. By abandoning Jihâd (may Allâh protect us from that) Islam is destroyed and the Muslims fall into an inferior position; their honor is lost, their lands are stolen, their rule and authority vanish. Jihâd is an obligatory duty in Islam on every Muslim, and he who tries to escape from this duty, or does not in his innermost heart wish to fulfill this duty, dies with one of the qualities of a hypocrite”, and ends with a 22 page discussion on jihad. As a result of comments like Qadhi’s this translation has become, "Now the most widely disseminated Qur'an in most Islamic bookstores and Sunni mosques throughout the English-speaking world" and with it the greatest intolerance and hatred of the ‘other’. Then again I think all three – Hilali, Khan and Qadhi were all educated in the homeland of Bin Laden, Saudi Arabia, which endorses Wahhabism, a philosophy that allows stoning the adulter, and allows no one to practise their religion freely in Saudi Arabia, that persecutes those who don’t live by its philosophy such as Shiite Muslims, and kills the apostate. Fortunately, there are many civilised people who have come to criticise their translation of late, and this is a good sign. As the Wikipedia article on the books says, “Khaleel Mohammed has taken the translation to task for "[reading] more like a supremacist Muslim, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian polemic than a rendition of the Islamic scripture", while Sheila Musaji complains that it "is shocking in its distortions of the message of the Qur’an and amounts to a rewrite not a translation", and Dr. Robert (Farooq) D. Crane states that it is "Perhaps the most extremist translation ever made of the Qur’an".


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