Negligence in seeking treatment and adopting the means of getting well

Q: As you know, we import and learn medical science, good and bad, from the West. (Part No. 24; Page No. 390) As the development of medicine was not based on a true faith, or on Christianity which was free from distortion, some matters contradict with Islam. I would like to inform you of a daily issue in the medical field. Some illnesses cause patients to become mentally retarded and may even result in problems for life. For example, illnesses of the brain and nervous system where an illness while in the womb may cause the child to be born with a mental disorder. He and the parents suffer as long as he lives.There is a recognized idea in the West that such a child should not be properly treated to speed up his death, contrary to a baby whose recovery is expected. If he was a fetus, they perform an abortion so that he is stillborn. Parents sometimes even ask for this themselves; claiming that they do not want him to suffer.For example, a profoundly retarded 7-year old boy visited the hospital to remove the appendix. Being unable to move or sit, and his head full of injuries resulting from hits, the specialist wonders whether (Part No. 24; Page No. 391) we should perform the surgery or neglect him. I advised him to refer to the people of knowledge and qualified persons in this field as this question is not easy. He who dares give Fatwas only dares to step into fire. In a huge meeting attended by doctors and professionals from America, I recommended that you give the ruling on this matter. So, your prompt reply will be highly appreciated. May Allah grant you success and preserve you as a source of knowledge for Islam and the Muslims!

A: The preservation of human life is one of the five legal indispensible objectives whose protection is firmly confirmed by the texts of the Qur'an and the Sunnah and consensus of scholars. Saving human life is next only to faith. The life of an adult, fetus, newborn, or other, free of diseases, problems, deformed or not, where recovery is hopefully expected or not, must necessarily be preserved and protected. Therefore, it is impermissible to end human life by means of abortion or medicines to bring about death once the fetus begins to move. The pretexts of sparing him pain, relieving his guardian of this burden, relieving the society of the burden, of having mental and physical handicaps and deformities, or any other reason are all void and inapplicable. According to Allah's statement, And do not kill anyone whose killing Allâh has forbidden, except for a just cause. (Part No. 24; Page No. 392) Moreover, it is authentically reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) who stated, It is not permissible to shed the blood of a Muslim except in three cases: a life for a life, a previously-married person who commits adultery, and one who leaves Islam and forsakes the jama`ah (main Muslim body). (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim). The doctors should sincerely seek Allah's reward for their efforts and not complain and be anxious about the frequent visits and the lengthy treatment of the patient. They should not despair of good consequences, because all matters are with Allah; He directs them as He wills. So they should not lose patience, if the cure is not easy to find and death is expected. How often is a sick person faced with a terminal disease and his condition deteriorates, then Allah causes him to recover. Likewise, how often has a sick person been diagnosed with a disease and has taken the medicine and hoped for a cure, then died despite the great care of those who were treating him. Medical skills and experience should not make doctors regard what they think is going to happen as something definite and inevitable. They should not regard their expectations as reality. How often have speculations proven false and expectations proven wrong. They should realize that even though we are enjoined to implement the means, healing comes only from Allah Who has created the means. Knowledge of people’s lifespan belongs only to Him, and no one knows this except Allah. The authorities should prepare facilities for treatment, and provide doctors, equipment, hospitals and so on. Everyone is a shepherd and is responsible for those under his custody, each in his own field according (Part No. 24; Page No. 393) to the knowledge, physical strength and financial ability that Allah has given him, as the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) informed us. They should all do their jobs well, for Allah has decreed proficiency in all things and He loves those who do well.They must not discontinue treatment or neglect it. Otherwise, they are rejecting the normal causes of recovery. It is authentically reported from Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with both of them) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) stated, I was shown the nations, and a prophet passed by with a few followers, another passed by with one or two men, and a prophet passed by with no followers. Then I was shown a great multitude, and I said, 'this is my Ummah.' It was said, ‘No, this is Musa and his people. I then looked and saw a multitude of people filling the horizons. It was said, ‘This is your Ummah, and of these, seventy thousand will enter Paradise without torment or being brought to account. Then, he [the Prophet (peace be upon him)] went inside, without explaining further. The people started to discuss what he had said, saying, “We are the ones who followed the Messenger; we are they” or, “It is the children who were born in Islam and did not associate others with Allah.” or other statements. The Prophet (peace be upon him) came out and said: "They are those who do not seek ruqya, do not use branding and do not believe in bad omens; they put their trust in their Lord." `Ukashah ibn Mihsan stood up and said, 'Supplicate Allah to make me one of them!’ He [the Prophet (peace be upon him)] said, ‘You are among them.’ Then another man stood up and said, 'Supplicate Allah to make me one of them.’ He said, `Ukashah won it first (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim whose wording is mentioned above, Al-Nasa'y and Al-Tirmidhy). (Part No. 24; Page No. 394) As shown in the above mentioned Hadith, the seventy thousand persons who will enter Paradise without torment or reckoning ignore the materialistic means which are not recommended by the Prophet (peace be upon him) and abstract means that may involve any tinge of Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship). They rather resort to spiritual means; namely, placing their trust in Allah and invoking Allah (Glorified be He) in humility and privacy. The abstract means outweigh the materialistic methods regarding the impact they have on some diseases and recovery. Those people did not avoid implementing the means at all, but chose the type they prefer along with observing sincerity and truthfulness of placing trust in Allah and endurance of the infliction, and having hope for recovery. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not mention avoid all materialistic means available for them. It was authentically reported that The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. Furthermore, the conditions and purposes of Westerners who want to terminate pregnancies and children with disabilities are different from that of the Muslims. Westerners, acting as parents or guardians of the affected children, abandon implementing the means, materialistic and abstract, because they are in despair of recovery and do not want the patient to suffer in order to avoid boredom with lengthy treatment and hopeless cases. They lack trust in Allah, patience and endurance, and have no hope for recovery with Allah's help. (Part No. 24; Page No. 395) Moreover, the presence of the mentally ill, handicapped, and chronic patient has a good impact on people. It acts as a reminder, exhortation, and a great sign of Divine Wisdom and Power and the greatness of Allah's blessing to those who are free of these diseases, so that they may show gratitude to Him and obey Him.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.