Islam & Medical Contention Regarding Public Safety

Harms of Highly Opinionated Individuals in Society

Unfortunately many do not restrain themselves when it comes to their opinions which is based upon incomplete knowledge thus they openly speak about all sorts of sciences and walks of life. So they will give opinions upon opinions even though they are not qualified and they are even encouraged to hold opinions in modern society. They feel being opinionated reflects ones standing in society and an understanding of the so-called ‘fiqh fil waaqi (understanding of modern affairs), thus the entering into so-called intellectual discussion.  This is clearly evident in the likes of the news media of today. Whereas in reality such individuals that speak in public with unqualified advice about public affairs then I fear they may have some of the characteristics from the ‘ruwaybida’; people who speak in affairs related to public safety and concern particularly in matters that involve Islamic governmental policies in fields such as religion, politics, health, economics, defense, etc.

The origin in Islam is that when an issue about which knowledge is not known then one stays quite and when asked about such things then acknowledging ones own ignorance is praiseworthy and contrary to this it is  blameworthy to pretend to have knowledge. If one is transmitting knowledge from certified practitioners who are well established within the various fields of medicine providing their views are not erroneous and contrary with what is establish from the various specialised practitioners and bodies, then this transmitted knowledge would be acceptable providing one was not applying it to specific individuals or communities as the knowledge is general and its detailed application may be contrary to this.

Referring Contention Back to those Most Specialised

Likewise if it is a point of contention among various bodies of established medical practitioners then we refer the contention back to those most specialised in that area, in accordance to the Prophetic methodology (manhaj) as clarified in the Prophetic narration (hadeeth) mentioned earlier “Which of the two is more skilled as a physician?” and likewise this in accordance to Allah’s statements of “asking the people of Reminder (expertise)” when you do not know.

So in issues such as childhood vaccination, where a general surgeon may differ with a physician, then to whom should the affair be related back to? No doubt it is the specialised public health physicians and those involved in infectious diseases who are acquainted with the various detailed knowledge and conflicting studies putting each in its correct place. These public health issues that entail the likes of childhood vaccinations and whether they reduce the risk of infectious diseases on a community level, the use of cholesterol lowering medicines whether they reduce risk of various types of vascular disease at a community level, and even the likes of whether a common food is carcinogenic, then all these issues are related to public safety.

Governmental Health Departments and Health Safety

Many governments have a health ministry that deal with such issues of public safety and sometimes set legislation in order to protect its citizens from their medical ignorance, such that we see compulsory childhood vaccination in places like Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. If one disagrees with such governmental policies then there is a due process to make such concerns manifest to those who are influential within those departments thereby having experts look into and investigate such concerns. So when there is contention particularly in areas relating to public safety it is referred back to those specialised within that field so that all types of information and evidence can be put in their correct respective places and if needed they can advise ministry of health.  This is in accordance to Allah’s, the Most Wise, statement in Surah An-Nisa – 4:83

When there comes to them some matter touching (public) safety or fear, they make it known (among the people), if only they had referred it to the Messenger or to those charged with authority among them, the proper investigators would have understood it from them (directly). Had it not been for the Grace and Mercy of Allah upon you, you would have followed Shaitân (Satan), save a few of you.

So the individuals who make such issues of public safety known are different from the proper investigators. The proper investigators mentioned in this verse in the context of public safety in health, such as whether a vaccine reduced an infective disease and its transmission within a community or whether the vaccine has harmful contents.  No doubt it would be those experts with the most specialised knowledge and skills within Public Health Medicine; these individuals understand the principle issues. If there is contention then it is even more necessary (from the angle of what is foremost to refer to the specialist, as stated by Ibnul Qayim (rahimullah) earlier.

…. it is necessary, concerning every science and craft, to seek the help of the person most skillful in it; the most skillful person will be the one most likely to find the best solution.

Spreading Matters relating to Public Health Safety on Social Media

Unfortunately we witness many videos and articles being spread amongst everyday people trying to undermine such health policies that have been advocated by health specialists.   These videos and articles are not based upon established expert views, rather on the contrary they are full of doubts attempting to play on the fears of everyday people and try to push them to defy expert regulation.  So I advise every day people not to open up themselves to such doubts but rather looks to the expert views of those who are true experts in that specific field. Do not be from those that “…they make it known (among the people)…” , in the aforementioned verse by spreading on such matters on websites and the social media, (whats App, Twitter, Facebook etc). Rather be from those that spread the knowledge from those who are certified and recognised by other contempories specialists as a having a good understanding of such public health issues.

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