Female being examined by male doctor
Fatwa No: 82093

Question

Today I had a kind of shared ethics meeting. We (medical and nursing students and 2 supervisors) were discussing some ethical issues. As I expected before the meeting, we came to an issue about Muslims and Islam. It concerned a young married Muslim woman who was sick and her family didn't allow her to be examined by a male doctor, the only doctor available at that time. A female doctor would not be there for two hours when her condition will be worst. What should the doctor do? As I am the only Muslim (I guess) in that small group, the supervisor asked my opinion. I said that the doctor must get her husband's permission. However, it is allowed in Islam, if she is in emergency situation to be examined by a male doctor. But again, the doctor must get her husband's permission. Am I right? Please comment on this. The supervisor then added, 'So, it's kind of cultural thing, not a religous thing?' I said 'umm...I think so..' The supervisor who is also a urology surgeon then told us about his experience in Saudi Arabia where a husband didn't allow an operation on his wife. I can't remember what happened to the wife, but again, I gave about the same opinion i.e the doctor cannot go against the husband's decision. Actually, I'm kind of scared if I make people confused about Islam, but at that time I just told them what I think is right. Please give me some advise about this.

Answer

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; and blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions. It is prohibited for a female to expose her Awrah (Those parts of the body, which must be covered) to any man; she has to cover herself from him. If she needs to uncover her Awrah for any legal reason, such as illness etc., she can do that provided that she can not find a female doctor and that the disease is so serious that delaying the treatment may be dangerous for her life or for any part of her body. In these conditions or similar ones, she can expose her body to a male doctor and it should be in the presence of her husband or of any un-marriageable relatives. If they are not found, at least there should be a female nurse or an another man. And Allah knows best.

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