Q 2: Regarding the issue of
women going out for (religious or secular) learning
in general or for learning medicine in particular, to what extent is this obligatory on them? Is there a Rukhsah (concession) for women to consult a male doctor when there is no female doctor? Is it permissible for women to consult a male doctor although there is a female doctor? If the answer is in the affirmative, to what extent is a Muslim woman permitted to uncover her `Awrah (parts of the body that must be covered in public) for medical treatment? Is she permitted to deliver her baby with the help of a male doctor when there are no female doctors available?
women are individually obliged to learn the necessary principles that enable them to correctly act upon their religion (Islam) and fulfill the rights of their Lord and families. Thus, they should learn the issues of `Aqidah (creed), Salah (Prayer), Sawm (Fast), Zakah (obligatory charity), Hajj, and ethics. Women should also learn the necessary living skills required for themselves and their families, such as cooking, baking, and tailoring, which are of varying importance; they may be necessary for some women to know but not for others. However, if they are able to learn the necessary knowledge without having to go out except to Masjids (mosques) and similar places, it will be fine - all praise be to Allah Alone. Otherwise, women are permitted to go out to institutes or schools to study whatever is necessary for the soundness of their religious practice and the fulfillment of their worldly needs.Learning medicine and other public branches that the Ummah (nation based on creed) needs is a collective obligation for both men and women according to the requirements of the Ummah so that male doctors examine men physically and treat them and female doctors do the same for women. (Part No. 12; Page No. 178) Consequently, the needs of all the members of the Ummah - whether males or females - will be fulfilled as far as health issues are concerned.
the original ruling is that it is Haram (prohibited) that a woman uncovers her `Awrah or that a non-Mahram (not a spouse or an unmarriageable relative) looks at it. Thus, if the medical treatment can be done by a female doctor, it is not permissible for a woman to go to a male doctor to examine her physically, or to help her deliver her baby, or to perform surgery on her. Conversely, if there is no skilled female doctor that can examine a woman and treat her illness, there is a Rukhsah for a woman to receive medical treatment with a trustworthy Muslim male doctor who is permitted to look at any parts of her `Awrah as necessity requires, as in the case of helping her to deliver her baby provided that no Khulwah (being alone with a member of the opposite sex) is involved. The foregoing is based on the principle that allows one to do the lesser of two conflicting harms; namely, the harm that may result from delivering the baby without the help of a skilled doctor compared to the harm of a non-Mahram male doctor looking at the `Awrah of a female patient.