Thank you for visiting this blog. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you find error/s. We would appreciate your comment to improve your experience in this blog.


Paper written for discussion at a workshop on the Islamic Input into the medical curriculum UNISSULA Semarang on 19th December 2008 by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr MB ChB (MUK), MPH (Harvard), DrPH (Harvard) Professor of Epidemiology and Islamic Medicine University of Brunei and Visiting Professor of Epidemiology University of Malaya

The essence of personal development is purification of the soul. Professionals may be so engrossed in their work that they forget themselves until they find themselves in spiritual crises that in turn have adverse effects on their professional work. Knowledge is needed to know the correct aqidat and to perform ibaadaat. The Basic Islamic Education program consists of 4 main areas of study: Qur’an, Hadith, Ma’athuraat, and Fiqh. These are supplemented by zawaid, nawafil, tafakkur, and extra-mural activities. The program can be covered in the 5 years of the medical course. The program can be started at any age or level of medical education and can be continued after that. It can also be started at any time during professional life.

1.2 THE STUDY CIRCLE, halaqat
A halaqat or usra is a small self-study group that undertakes this program. Each halaqa should be led by a naqib. Members of the halaqat should be of the same age groups and preferably same academic level. It is however possible to mix people of different ages and academic levels so that the young can learn from the older. The Naqib can lead discussion in some sessions and is also encouraged to delegate this responsibility to various members of the usra. Whoever has the responsibility for leading discussions must take 20-30 minutes preparing for the session. The Naqib must have a register in which members sign their name and the times of arrival. Signing-in should be done before the usrat starts any formal work. Members should start by reciting surat al fatihat and should adjourn with recitation of tasbih kaffarat and surat al ‘asr. Meetings of the halaqat are preferably associated with acts of ibadat. The best times are therefore: before salat al fajr, after salat al fajr, before salat al jumu’at, after salat al asr, before salat al maghrib, and between salat al maghrib and salat al isha. The Naqib must make sure that all 4 components of the program are covered. The Naqibat should make sure that all members participate. The Naqib should make sure that every member has a personal copy of the usrat manual. Each member should also bring along a copy of the Qur’an with translation in addition to whetever other books have been assigned. Special sessions should be set aside for collective self-evaluation by members of the usrah. The parameters of this evaluation should be agreed on by all. The evaluation could cover the usrah and its activities or could extend to other activities of the members. The purpose should be fostering the spirit of sharing experiences and self-criticism. Members should greet one another before starting. All members should endeavour to know one another by name. Any member wanting to go out for a valid reason must obtain the permission of the Naqibat. All members must learn to listen and not interrupt others. They must obey the instructions of the Naqibat. Members must avoid quarrels or loud arguments. A spirit of tolerance should exist with the understanding that there could be more than one way of being right. Excessive laughing or joking should be avoided. Members should sit with proper adab. Recitation of the Qur’an should be done with khushu and tadabbur. Additional activities include discussion of current affairs and extra mural social activities.

Nafilat refers to acts of worship in addition to the obligatory ones. There is reward for undertaking them and no punishment for not carrying them out. Nafilat is purely for the benefit of the worshipper. Nawafil have an additional purpose of plugging gaps and deficiencies in the performance of the obligatory duties. The following are recommended salat nafilat, saum nafilat, sadaqat, and umra

Contemplation is meditation about Allah’s creations and signs with deliberation. It is a spiritual and not an intellectual exercise. It requires concentration therefore it is often undertaken at times and places where environmental sensory distractions are minimal. Contemplation of the nature of Allah is forbidden. Contemplation is possible only on signs and creations of Allah. Contemplation can be carried out in the mosque or in other places isolated from the daily routines of life (open desert, forest, oceon etc). Salat is also a unique opportunity for contemplation. Dhikr is a form of contemplation. Contemplation can also be carried out during dhikr. There are several methods of achieving the purposes of contemplation. Contemplation can be by looking at nature. Contemplation can be by looking at the self. Contemplation cn be on the wonders of Allah’s creation. Contemplation can also be by thoughts. One can contemplate Allah’s signs. One can contemplate the past. One can contemplate the future especially hell and paradise. Daily events of life in the individual and the community can be objects of contemplation. One can contemplate the Qur’an.

The Qur’an is a book of moral guidance. It therefore gives models and examples of the righteous, salihiin, to be emulated as well as models of transgressor, dhalimin, to be avoided. It describes the thoughts, actions, and fate of the two groups in a historical perspective, a contemporary perspective, and a future perspective. It also provides intellectual arguments as well as makes pleas to humans to emulate the salihiin and to avoid the dhalimiin. Some of the intellectual arguments used are related to Allah’s signs. Verses on signs discuss Allah’s signs for purposes of itti’adh. The signs may be in the past, the present, or the future. Signs in the past include stories of prophets and communities, accounts of the creation of the universe and of humans, conduct of righteous individuals and communities, the fate and humiliation of individuals and communities that were transgressors, and rebuttal of non-believers. Signs in the present include signs of Allah in the universe signs of Allah in humans, bounties of Allah for humans, social organization, and spiritual training, and rebuttal of the non-believers. Signs in the future include prediction of future events, an account of the events and horrors of the Last Day, punishment and reward. The purpose of this study is to relate the verses to daily experience of the individual or the community deriving practical and moral lessons. The historical verses are especially relevant since history repeats itself. Human nature, character, and behavior are the same at all ages. The experience of past eras is therefore very relevant today. Humans are therefore enjoined to study history in order to learn from the past. Qur’anic verses are miraculously relevant to contemporary events of life. Verses condemning the Yahuud and Nasaara and polytheists also apply to any other persons in the present time who behave like those groups. The Qur’an also predicts future events on earth that people can see and verify for themselves. The verses of ahkaam also attempt to provide guidelines and limits within which those who want to be righteous can operate.

The verses selected are clear. They are understandable without the need for detailed explanation. The verses are selected and are studied by subject-matter. They are interpreted by precedent using the Qur’an and hadith.  Cross-references to relevant verses and hadiths are provided in the foot notes. The main references are the tafsir works of Ibn Kathir and al Tabari. Our concern is translation and understanding of the meanings and not translation of words. A historical approach has been employed to derive lessons from past human experience. The scientific approach has been employed to draw lessons from Allah’s signs in human biology and the physical universe. The following types of tafsir are not employed here: rational, philosophical, and juridical. Scientific miracles and abrogation are not addressed. 

Use a Qur’anic translation that has the Arabic script beside the translation. Take turns reading translation of the assigned verses for each topic. Make sure you understand the meanings of all words used in the translation. You can refer to the foot-notes for more detailed explanation of the context of revelation (sabab al nuzul), related verses and hadiths, and explanation of unfamiliar words. Discuss the assigned issue(s) using the given points as a guide. List lessons you have learned for your contemporary life as an individual and as a member of the community or society. Write down your conclusions.

The following general conceptual tools are useful in the discussions: Qur’anic methodology, comprehensiveness of the Qur’anic vision, the Qur’an as a source of sciences, the Qur’an opens and challenges human intellect, Allah’s fixed laws in humans and the physical world, the Qur’an as a solution to problems of humanity: social, economic, political, scientific, educational, and psychological.



The objective of the study of hadith is personal development, tarbiyat al nafs, which includes encouragement of good acts, fadhail al a’amal, remembrance of Allah, dhikr al allah, softening the hearts, tarqiiq al quluub, encouraging hope for reward, rajaa,  and fear of chastisement, khawf, correct social etiquette, adab, and improving manners, tahdhiib al akhlaq. This study is not concerned with critique of the text, naqd al matn,  or chain of transmission, naqd al sanad, or any other academic aspect of hadith sciences, ulum al hadith.

This module is a study of hadith of Imaam Nawawi’s Garden of the Righteous, Riyadh al Salihin.

Follow the etiquette, adab, of reading and studying hadith. Ablution, wudhu, is recommended but is not obligatory. Take turns in reading the assigned hadiths in Arabic aloud making sure you pronounce each letter correctly. Correct one another in a polite way. Read the translation of the hadith. Make sure you understand all the words in the translation. Do not start any discussion before fully understanding the text, nass. Refer to the foot notes for: the chain of transmission, related Qur’anic verses and hadiths. Discuss the hadith using the given points as a guide. List lessons you have learned for your contemporary life as an individual and as a member of the community or society. Write down your conclusions.

The following general conceptual tools will be useful in your discussions: sunnat as a source of law, hujjiyat al sunnat, comprehensiveness of sunnat, shumuul al sunnat, sunnat as a basis for civilization, hadharat, and culture, thaqafat, the time and space dimension in the sunnat, al bu’ud al zamani wa al makani, sunnat and solution of social problems, sunnat mu’alajat mushkilaat al umma, sunnat as source of values, qiyam, sunnat as dawa, sunnat understood in the context of the Qur’an, fahm al sunnat fi dhaw’i al Qur’an, understanding sunnat in the context of the related historical circumstances and purposes, asbaab wa maqasid al sunnat, focus on the spirit, ruh, and not letter, lafdh,  of the sunnat,  focus on the higher purposes, maqasid, and not the externalities, dhawahir, focus on the whole and not the parts, juz’iyaat, appreciation that the purposes, maqasid,  are constant but the methods, wasail, are variable, avoiding allegorical interpretations, ta’awil majazi, avoiding esoteric interpretations, ta’awil batini, belief in the unseen, iman bi al ghaib, without asking why and how, ‘adam al su’al ‘an al kayfiyat,  because human intellect is limited, mahdudiyat al ‘aql al insani.

The Qur’an has emphasized the importance of dhikr in many verses. There is a lot of virtue in circles of dhikr. There is virtue in formulas of dhikr including tasbih, tahmiid, tahliil, and takbiir. Dhikr can be loud or silent. It can be in the heart or can be pronounced. Dhikr can be undertaken when in a state of wudhu. It can be undertaken when standing up or sitting down. It has to be in a clean place. No dhikr is allowed while in the toilet.

Ma’athurat are formulas for remembering Allah (dhik, allah, that the Prophet (PBUH) used or recommended. Some are verses of the Qur’an whereas others are from hadith. Many are in the form of supplication, dua. One point needs to be clarified about the ma’athurat. They are not the only occasions for remembering Allah; they constitute a very small portion of dhikr. All human activity and endeavours are ‘ibadat as long as they are righteous and are part of dhikr. Obligatory acts of worship are also a form of dhikr. Dhikr has many benefits that include protection from evil, munkar; patience, sabr; calmness, tama’aninat; and success, falah. Dhikr has to be undertaken in all conditions and at all times. Humans are enjoined to remember Allah a lot. Neglecting dhikr is severely condemned. Dhikr is a cause for reward, thawab. Dhikr accompanies worship, ibadat, and all human interactions, mu’amalat. Dhikr can also be in the heart, dhikr al qalbi. Dhikr can also be in the form of supplication, dua.

This module has two inter-related objectives: (a) understanding and memorizing the ma’athurat (b) reciting the ma’thurat as ibadat which strengthens the attachment to Allah  (c) Learning and using the ma’athurat will serve the additional purpose of using acceptable and established formulas of dhikr in the place of many innovations, bid’a, of doubtful authenticity that abound in the Muslim world.

The hadiths were selected from Imaam Nawawi’s book ‘al adhkar al muntakhabat min kalaam sayyid al abraar’. One hadith is assigned for each session. The choice was very selective. Only authentic hadiths were selected. Shorter hadiths were preferred over longer ones.

Take turns in reading the assigned verse or hadith in Arabic. Correct one another in a polite way. Read the translation once and make sure you understand all the words. Refer to the footnotes for more detailed explanation. Then re-read with the purpose of memorization. Take the following measures to memorise. Repeat the reading at least 5 times. Write out the text in your own handwriting. Try to continue the recitation in your free time after the end of the session. Try to memorise as much as you can before the next session. Make sure you understand the occasion appropriate for the verse or hadith you have studied.

All humans are slaves of Allah. A true slave of Allah is a slave only Allah and cannot accept any other master either is association with Allah or instead of Allah. Slaves to Allah alone are free persons in complete control of the self and are not under the control of other humans, the shaitan, or human passion. The Qur’an has described prophets, the jinn, and angels as slaves of Allah. Humans can only find true liberation is submitting as slaves to Allah. Whenever they seek liberation in any other way they only change the form of slavery; the outside and form change but the essence remains. Being a slave of Allah requires that the slave obey the master in what is enjoined and what is prohibited. It also requires that the slave worship the master. ‘Ibadat is for the master alone and nobody else can be associated with the master in worship.

4.2 FEAR
The Qur’an uses 5 terms to describe ‘fear’: taqwa, khashiyat, khawf, rahbat, and tadahru’u. Fear in Qur’anic terminology is different from the linguistic meaning. Believers’ fear of Allah is combined with love for Him and hope for His rewards and mercy. Believers’ good behavior is not only out of fear of punishment but also to express gratitude to Allah for His bounties. Taqwa is the only true and invariable criterion of superiority among humans. Taqwa or its absence has a major impact on human action and behavior. At an individual level the practical manifestations of taqwa are: doing good, undertaking ‘ibadat, and avoiding bad actions. At a societal level the practical manifestations of taqwa are enjoining good and forbidding the bad. Among the consequences of taqwa are: love of Allah, success, victory, and good behavior. Taqwa is needed in all fields of endeavor. Taqwa is enjoined even in dealing with polytheists. The Qur’an condemns fear of humans instead of Allah. Staying on the right path, istiqaamat, is a result of taqwa. Fear should be balanced by hope.

4.3 OBEDIENCE, ta’at
The Qur’an enjoins obedience of Allah and the Prophet but forbids obedience of shaitan. Ta’at is a practical expression of taqwa. The essence of obedience is fulfilling the injunctions of Allah. Ta’at leads to success and guidance. It is also associated with a lot of rewards. Disobedience, ma’asiyat, is the opposite of ta’at. It is either omission, neglect of prescribed duties, or commission, committing forbidden acts. Prophets and angels do not disobey Allah. Believers do not disobey Allah.

4.4 REMEMBRANCE, dhikr
Dhikr is essentially worship of the creator and carries the same meaning as ‘ibadat. It has however been misinterpreted as meaning specific formulas or supplications repeated a given number of times a day or on given occasions. Dhikr is all the time and in all of forms and is essentially full awareness that Allah is the creator who must be worshipped and remembered all the time. Dhikr is also constant awareness and remembrance of Allah’s bounties for humans. Dhikr is to be carried out as much as possible. Among the positive benefits of dhikr: rewards, protection from evil actions, patience, calmness, and success. Abandoning dhikr is condemned.

‘Ibadat is the purpose of creation and is a practical expression of taqwa. All human activities are ‘ibadat if undertaken with the correct intention. All acts of ‘ibadat are for Allah alone. There is no intermediary or intercessor between the human and Allah in ‘ibadat. ‘Ibadat can be structured or non-structured. Structured ‘ibadat can be obligatory or non-obligatory. Acts of ‘ibadat may be mental, physical, or verbal. Avoiding committing evil acts is ‘ibadat. ‘Ibadat must be constant in all places, at all times, and in all circumstances. Allah rewards contemplating or performing acts of ‘ibadat, obligatory and non-obligatory. There is punishment for neglecting obligatory acts but not the non-obligatory ones. There is no punishment for contemplation of a bad act that is eventually not carried out. All prescribed acts of ‘ibadat have a social purpose. Salat and hajj are social gatherings. Zakat is a system of mutual social support that provides for everybody’s welfare. Fasting is a voluntary experience of hunger that makes the rich sensitive to the plight of the poor who cannot get enough food.

5.0 PURIFICATION OF THE SELF, tazkiyat al nafs
5.1 PERSONALITY, al nafs
Personality is the totality of behavior of an individual. People’s personalities differ. An individual has both positive and negative personality traits. The exceptionally good and strong personalities are rare. The essence of a person and personality is the nafs and not the physical body. A human being is born in a natural state of purity, fitrat al Islam. The potential to do good or bad exists at the beginning. It is the early environment that determines how those potentials are enhanced. The states of the nafs in increasing grades of perfection are: nafs ammarah, nafs lawamah, and nafs kamilat that manifests in 5 ways: nafs mulhamah; nafs qanu’ah, nafs mutma’inna, nafs radhiyah, and nafs mardhiyat. Besides the nafs, personality is determined by biological inheritance, the physical environment, the culture, socialization, group and unique individual experiences. Basic personality is established early in life and only minor modifications can be made to it in later life. This underlies the importance of education and training in childhood when personality is still malleable. Personality improves through spiritual and intellectual development. Personality can be polluted by diseases of the heart such as covetousness, passion, pride, evil, hiwa al nafs, and waswasat. These pollutants may have inner promptings within the human that are encouraged by external social influences.

Prophets were sent to ensure tazkiyat for humans. Tazkiyat is fulfillment and return to the first covenant between humans and Allah. Tazkiyat, as a basis for development and improvement of personality, is a long, pro-active, and uphill task whose road map is the Qur’an. Correct and firm ‘aqidat, ‘ibadat, avoiding the forbidden, generally being conscious of the creator, and constant meditation about creation are paths to tazkiyat that lead to development and improvement of personality, good character, good behavior, assertiveness, and self-confidence. Living in a righteous community is necessary to motivate and encourage tazkiyat. Islam is a practical religion. Achievement of purity is through action.

Tazkiyat is based on ikhlaas, sidq, istislam, and  tadharu'u. Tazkiyat is answering the call of Allah by sticking to the straight path, renouncing materialism, constant vigilance against shaitan. Tazkiyat can be achieved by dhikr, isti'adhat, istighfar, tasbiih, tahmiid, tahliil, dua, and physical ‘ibadat: salat, saum, and  infaq.

Prophets were sent as human models of tazkiyat whose practical life experiences showed that a human can overcome inner weaknesses and evil tendencies to succeed in attaining a high level of purity. The Prophet Muhammad lived an exemplary life so that the companions could see and emulate the best behavior. He had the best character and his character was the Qur’an. He lived a simple life. Abubakr was the best person after the Prophet. He was siddiq and his faith was so strong that it would outweigh the faith of the rest of the ummat. Omar comes after Abubakr in virtue. Omar was so strong that the shaitan feared to follow his path. He lived a simple and hard life away from luxuries. Othman was a generous and pious who was so modest that the angels were shy of him.

Believers of all generations and all places have manifested noble traits of purity of personality than can be emulated. The Qur’an has described traits of believers because Allah wanted to put before all humanity a model that could be emulated. The believers have the following spiritual traits: believing Allah's signs, responding to the call of Allah, obedience of Allah, repentance, reform, surrender to Allah, commitment, reliance on Allah, and fear in the hearts. The believers have the following social traits: keeping away from lahw, keeping the private parts from sinning, keeping promises and trusts, humility, enjoining good, forbidding evil, attesting the truth, patience, kindness, forgiving when angry; undertaking jihad, and mutual consultation. They avoid the following evil acts: homicide, fornication, false witness, friendship for those who fight Allah and the Prophet, and committing major sins. The ‘ibadat traits of believers are: dua to Allah only, establishment, maintaining, and regularity of salat, khushu'u in salat; salat at night, giving zakat and sadaqat to the poor while being moderate in giving.

6.0 SINNING, al ithm
6.1 THE ENORMITIES, al kabair
The terms for sin are ithm, dhanb, sayi'at, fujuur, and fahishat. The terms for good are tayyib, khair, or birr. The terms for evil are batil, khabiith, and sharr. Good and evil can be absolute or relative. Human fitra can tell the difference between god and evil in most situations but there are gray areas that require guidance by revelation. Sinning can arise from inner tendency to evil, external promptings by shaitan, or an interaction between the two. Sins can be minor, saghair, or major enormities, kabair. The Prophet mentioned 7 major sins: shirk; sihr; qatl; riba; eating the orphan’s property, fleeing from the battle-field, and falsely accusing chaste women, qadhf al muhswanaat.  Imam Shams al Ddiin al Dhahabi (d. 748 AH) listed 70 major sins. Ibn Hajar al Haytami (d. 807H) published a longer list of 440 enormities.

Common sins can be classified in groups based on the potential of preventing them: sins of ‘aqidat, sins of the heart, sins of the tongue, and the sin of oppression, dhulm. There are 3 basic sins of aqidat: kufr, shirk, and nifaaq. Sins of the heart are kibr, takabbur, ‘ujb, hiqd, hasad, ghurur, shahwat, suu’u al dhann, and sukhriyyah.  Sins of the tongue are ghaibat, namimat, kadhb, alqaab, laghw, lamz, and hamz. Dhulm is the sin of transgression and oppression. It is violating an individual in his person, his wealth, his rights, or his honor. Dhulm could be physical, psychological or rights violation. It could be directed at an individual, a group of individuals or the whole community. The term dhulm could also apply to situations in which there is transgression against the environment and irreversible destruction of the eco-system. There are cases in which dhulm is directed at the self, dhulm al nafs.

6.3 PUNISHMENT, 'iqaab
Sinners can be punished on earth or in the hereafter. Punishment on earth may be individual or communal. It may be direct or through the agency of other humans. Execution of legal punishments expiates further punishment in the hereafter. The Qur'an has told us stories of individuals and communities who were punished for their sins on earth such as Pharaoh, people of Yunus, People of Hud, people of Nuh, people of Salih, people of Lut, Banu Israil, and people of the elephant. Allah's communal punishments continue even today but people are not conscious of them. Civil wars, natural disasters, epidemic diseases are punishments for sins of some individuals in the community. Communal punishments do not distinguish between the guilty and the innocent. The innocent are punished for their failure to stand up to evil and stop it or migrating to another country. Sinners will be punished in the hereafter. The Qur’an has described the punishment of the hereafter as great, painful, severe, and demeaning.

6.4 REPENTANCE, taubat
Forgiveness follows taubat from sins. Allah is happy with the taubat of His servants. Allah will accept taubat from a human until the moment of death. Taubat can be accepted from the murtadd, and the murderer. Regret, nadam is a form of taubat. Taubat is a form of self-cleansing from evils that is followed by reform. Allah enjoins humans to repent. The Prophet used to make taubat many times a day. Acceptance of taubat will continue until the last day. Taubat nasuhat is one that is not followed by any additional sin. We can tell that taubat was accepted if the person desists and does not return to the sin. Taubat must be early. The person must give up the sin after taubat. Taubat must be accompanied by regret and remorse

6.5 FORGIVENESS, ghufran
It is Allah's mercy that there is forgiveness of sins. Allah can forgive instead of punishing. Allah's forgiveness is very wide in scope. All sins except shirk can be forgiven. Allah can also forgive transgression, dhulm. The time of forgiveness is the hereafter. Allah promised humans His forgiveness. However it is in His will to forgive or not forgive. Allah forgave prophets such as Adam, Ibrahim, Daud, Sulaiman, Muhammad, Musa, and Nuh. He also forgave many other normal humans. Humans are encouraged to hasten in seeking forgiveness. Forgiveness is sought from Allah only. It is He alone who can forgive. The following are reasons for getting forgiveness from Allah: iman, taqwah, taubah, jihad, khashiat, ta'at, afwu, & ‘amal salih. There three main reasons for withholding forgiveness are shirk, kufr, & nifaq.

7.0 MOTIVATION, al tahfiz
Motivation can be intrinsic (self motivation), extrinsic (motivation by external rewards), or reactionary (temporary response to events). Jannat is a positive motivator. Jahannam is a negative motivator. Motivation starts with commitment to an intention Ikhlaas al niyyat. The reward for work is commensurate with the niyyat. Any work without niyyat is not recognized. The best of work is consistent and continuous. Performace may fall short of the niyyat. Work can be good work, ‘amal hasan or bad work, ‘amal sayyi. High job satisfaction is directly related to high motivation. Motivated workers know that work is ibadat and that Allah observes all they do so they strive for excellence, ihsaan. The salary meets the needs of the worker and family so that he can devote time and energy to the work and is not a just return for the work. Work is ‘ibadat and only Allah can recompense for it. Other sources of motivation are honor, sharaf, generosity, karam, and fulfillment, wafaa

Motivated and motivated leaders clarify goals, set objectives, consult and respect followers, deal with followers kindly, humanely, and with fairness, have good 2-way communication, and make followers feel secure. A motivating work environment is challenging and meaningful. It has opportunities for advancement, learning and personal growth. It gives responsibility, independence, and job satisfaction. Positive reinforcement (appreciation, reward and praise) is a motivator. Negative motivation is due to worries, lack of self-confidence, low self-esteem, low self-worth, negative opinions in the work place, poor working conditions, poor leadership, inequity, and injustice. Negative reinforecememt such as reprimand demotivates. People should work because they believe not because they receive. Intrinsic rewards are effective motivators than extrinsic motivators. Intrinsic rewards are task completion, achievement, autonomy, and personal growth. Extrinsic rewards are salary, benefits, and promotions.

Students are idealistic on entry into medical school and talk about serving the community. On graduation many students think about material benefits and social status. A physician in a materialistic society is torn between contradictory forces of greed and service. Although service should have the higher priority, the material rights and privileges of the physician should not be forgotten because he also wants to live a happy and honorable life.

A physician is a community leader who has to undertake tarbiyyah, amr bi maroof, and nahy al munkar. He is an advocate for the poor, the weak, and the deprived. He has to undertake research to push forward the frontiers of knowledge. He has to share his knowledge by teaching others. He has responsibility to the environment and posterity.

Ancient Muslim physicians were encyclopedic in knowledge, all-rounded, motivated, hardworking, and productive. They excelled in medicine as committed Muslims because Islam is not incompatible with science. Their achievements are a motivator for today’s medical students and physicians. Abubakr Al Razi (251-313H),  wrote more than 100 books (the most famous being al Hawi al Kabir), investigated diseases (gynecologal, obstetrical, hereditary, eye, small pox, and measles), discovered surgical sutures, used anesthetics, used ammonia to control diarrhea, considered psychological factors in disease treatment, and was director of hospitals in Baghdad and Rayy. Ibn Sina (370-428H) wrote many books (the most famous being al Qanuun fi al Tibb), recognized that TB was contagious, accurately described the symptoms of diabetes mellitus, discovered ancylostomiasis, and contributed to science, mathematics, chemistry, and philosophy. Al Zahrawi (d. 404H) had interest in surgery, pharmacology, and anatomy. He designed over 200 surgical instruments. His book Kitaab al tasriif, became a standard textbook of surgery. He was an expert in cancer surgery and tooth extraction. Ibn Zuhr (d. 487H), lived in Andalusia and Morocco and authored the book al Taysir translated into Latin and used in Europe. Ibn Rushd (d. 595H) was a philosopher and a medical practitioner. His book al Kulliyat translated in Europe. He made the observation that smallpox infected only once. Ibn Al Nafees (d. 686H) described blood circulation before William Harvey and authored Sharh tashriih al qanuun in which he explained pulmonary circulation.

8.0 MEDICAL EDUCATION, ta’alim al tabiib
Medicine is closely associated with all the 5 purposes of the Law: diin, nafs, nasl, aql, & maal. Study of medicine is therefore fardh kifayat. Medical students should learn basic and clinical sciences, the essentials of Islam, al ma’lum fi al diin bi dharurat, ahkam fiqhiyyat relating to medicine, and the social background to disease causation and prevention. There are 6 conceptual issues in medical education from the Islamic perspective: purpose of medicine and medical education, integration, balance, service, leadership, and research.

The purpose of medicine is to restore, maintain or improve the quality of remaining life. It cannot prevent or postpone death because ajal is in the hands of Allah. The aim of medical education is producing physicians whose practice fulfills the 5 purposes of the Law within a holistic tauhidi context. They will have the following characteristics: health and not disease oriented, focused on quality and not quantity of life, humble to recognize limitations to their abilities, holistic in outlook, understand society, scientific capability, clinical expertise, and leadership. European secular-oriented medicine is fragmented by organ, disease process, and is not holistic. Islam can provide an integrative tauhidi paradigm to replace the European non-tauhid world-view that is atomistic, analytic, and not synthetic. In the absence of an integrating paradigm, European medicine lacks balance and equilibrium in its therapeutic approach. The Qur’anic concepts of wasatiyyat, mizaan, i’itidaal, and tadafu’u provide a conceptual framework for balanced medical practice.

Medicine should be taught as a social service with the human dimension dominating the the biomedical dimension. Medicine should be practiced as of mutual social support. Medical education should prepare the future physician to provide service to the community. This will require skills of understanding and responsing to community needs that can be acquired by spending part of the training period in a community setting away from the high technology hospital environment.

The medical school curriculum and experience should be a lesson in social responsibility and leadership. The best physician should be a social activist who goes into society and gives leadership in solving underlying social causes of ill-health. The physician as a respected opinion leader with close contact with the patients must be a model for others in moral values, attitudes, akhlaq, and thoughts. He must give leadership in preventing or solving ethical issues arising out of modern biotechnology. He must understand the medical, legal, and ethical issue involved and explain them to the patients and their families so that they can form an informed decision. He should also provide leadership in advocating for the less privileged and advocacy for human rights.

Admission decisions should in addition to academic competence consider comprehensive holistic approach based on tauhid, a service vocation, ethical and community leadership, and motivation to get knowledge. The medical school curriculum should be reformed in 2 ways: (a) more methodological content and less biomedical information (b) learning by apprecenticeship by early involvement in patient care. The future physician must be a producer and not a consumer of knowledge. This will require giving more time to basic research methodological tools and decreasing the amount of biomedical scientific information that is either forgotten or becomes obsolete by the time of graduation. Student research projects are a good introduction to life-long curiosity in science and discovery. Besides facts and skills, students learn values, attitudes, and assumptions from their teachers and the environment. For apprenticeship to succeed the teachers must be good models and the ambience must be Islamic. An ideal Muslim physician is a multi-dimensional character described as having iman, taqwah, amanat, and akhlaq.



Character, determined by personality, is internal. Its outward manifestation is behavior, good or bad. Consistent observation of behavior over a long time reveals true character. The following are some of the components of a positive character: Piety, generosity, charity, chastity, trust, humility, balance, moderation, patience, endurance, cooperation, forgiving, ignoring stupid company, reconciliation, honor and dignity, shyness, modesty, integrity, courage, and wisdom. These traits are best manifested in an atmosphere of positive attitudes, optimism, and behavior. Positive behavior includes: controlling appetites (eating little, fasting, sexual self-control), fulfilling needs of others, mercy, good words and acts; and good deeds which wipe out bad ones.

Self-improvement requires commitment, effort and action to achieve goals, taking responsibility, learning from previous experiences (positive and negative), interdependence, pursing real needs and not mere wants, a positive attitude, a futuristic outlook, assertiveness, self-confidence, and self reliance, and contentment. 

Being assertive is learning to take control. A person who has self-control can stand up to the temptations of shaitan. The following are ingredients of self control: self-confidence, self-esteem, self-reliance, self-discipline, and self-development. Self-confidence is to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, to be comfortable with what you are, and to be psychologically secure. Psychological security raises self-esteem. Self-help and self-improvement are in essence taking charge of your life, relying on yourself in solving problems, and taking the initiative to improve. Self discipline is needed for success and consists of control of whims and emotions, sticking to goals, acting according to long-term and not short-term interests, avoiding impulsive acts, following the head and not the emotions, and trusting your instincts. An entrepreneurial attitude requires initiative, optimism, self-confidence, creativity, taking calculated risks, looking for and exploiting opportunities, perseverance and determination.


Social development starts with selection of a spouse and starting a family. It involves learning to develop social networks and taking social responsibilities in the community.

The factors behind professional success are a good basic education, postgraduate training, apprenticeship to a good mentor, setting goals and a time frame to achieve them, adopting a growth strategy, delivering quality results in the work and not seeking cheap publicity. Professional networking involves identification of strategic partners for mutual benefit and not manipulating or exploitation. The networking starts within Muslim circles and extends to the wider professional and social circles. Nurturing contacts is very important otherwise they get lost. Economic empowerment should have the objective of eventual self-employment.  A long-term development plan must be made. Putting side some of the monthly earnings for asset accumulation and investment ensures financial stability and expansion of the Muslim economic base.

Leadership is influencing people to do certain things or to move in a certain direction. Leadership can be learned. Good leaders persuade and do not rely on command, fear, or authority. They serve and do not dominate. They use leadership power to improve and make a change. They pull and do not push. They empower followers by coaching and delegation. Good leaders rely on personal power (character, expertise, charisma, and personal relations) more than positional power (formal authority, decisions, rewards, punishments, information, and organizational resources). Leadership credibility is based on competence, character, self-confidence, activity and drive, boldness and assertiveness. Leadership is a necessity and its absence means chaos. Good leadership leads to success; bad leadership leads to frustration and failure. One of the harbingers of doom is to place leadership authority in the wrong hands.

Leadership is exercised by almost everybody. Its effectiveness is increased by formal training or job experience. Its success depends on follower consent. Leaders face problems of loneliness, taking responsibility for failures, follower problems (disloyalty, poor values, dissent), external threats, and lack of privacy. A leader as a human has strengths and weaknesses. Leaders can be autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire. They can be transactional, transformational, or charismatic. They can be task oriented or people-oriented. The appropriate style of leadership is determined by the situation on the ground. Some situations require combinations of leadership styles. Management and leadership skills and functions are different but are found in an individual in varying proportions. Leadership is about effectiveness, intuition, long-term vision, change, challenging the status quo, innovation, development, originality, and motivation of others. Management is about rational problem-solving, efficiency, process and mechanics, stability, harmony, status quo, short-term view, following and not innovating.

Followers are described as lazy or hardworking, taking or shunning responsibility, 'yes people' following whatever is moving, survivors avoiding trouble, alienated and do not caring, and obedient or rebellious. Followers differ in intelligence, education, experience, honesty, respect for leaders, and gratitude. Followers are part of leadership situation, they play an important function in a leadership situation, and are not passive spectators. Books of history ignore follower. Followers close to the leader can guide or misguide him. The duties of the followers to the leader are obedience, respect, advice and correction, feedback, and loyalty. Leader must rely on the followers and make them know they are trusted and are valued. A good leader discourages false praise by followers and development of a personality cult.

A leader may play one of the following roles/functions: clarification of vision, goals, and objectives; making decisions and solving problems; strategic and tactical planning; training; coordinating and integration; representation the organization; managing and resolving conflicts; motivation of followers; assigning tasks; maintaining positive and smooth working relationships; participation and not being aloof; evaluation of self and of followers; forming groups, coaching them and delegating responsibility to them; and communication (the most important function of leadership).

A leader fails due to several often inter-related causes: refusal to admit mistakes; feeling indispensable; dictatorship; fear for position and not developing replacements; disloyalty to superiors, peers, followers and the organization; lack of creativity; lack of common sense; lack of human skills; failure to produce results; following the crowd and not leading; condoning or tolerating incompetence; failure to recognize and reward good work, and hatred by the followers. A leader is hated for impersonal behavior, not listening to followers, self importance, wrong decisions, claiming credit for followers' work, blaming followers for his mistakes, secretiveness, withholding information, not protecting followers from external attacks and criticizing them in public, not consulting followers, and over-working followers, being arrogant and feeling indispensable, putting people down, mistrust and disloyalty, inaccessibility, poor human relations, and following the crowd. A leader hated by followers should resign in the interests of the organization
Most leadership personal attributes and skills (conceptual, practical, and human) can be learned. Personal attributes are character and personality. Conceptual skills are intellectual functions (analytic, rational, and intuitive) needed for planning, coordination and integration of activities. Practical skills are needed for technical performance. Human skills are needed to understand and motivate followers. Allah gives authority to whomever He wants among many qualified for leadership. Since not everybody can become a leader, everybody must be prepared to be a good follower. The best leaders have no ambition to lead, they lead when called upon but will equally be happy as followers. Effective leaders monitor and learn from the environment, benefit from opportunities, and avoid dangers. They time actions and interventions for maximum impact and advantage. They have positive attitudes (derived from right ideas) and moral values (derived from tauhid, khilafat, and ‘adl). Optimism and good behavior reflect a positive attitude. Pessimism, racism, and prejudice reflect negative attitudes. Leaders differ from non-leaders in drive, motivation, honesty, integrity, self-confidence, emotional stability, and intelligence. Drive includes desire for achievement, high ambition, high energy levels, tenacity and initiative. Successful leaders are motivation to lead, to take charge, to make a change, to improve, to influence, and to exercise power for achieving goals. A leader must have a strong personality, mental and physical stamina, and aptitude to take responsibility and to be accountable. Strength of personality is not violence, roughness or stubbornness. It is strength of character, sticking to moral values and attitudes, avoiding the immoral even if expedient and attractive. A leader must be brave so that the followers are firm and reassured in a crisis or danger. He must be objective and not confuse personal and organizational interests. He focuses on the organization, credits his work to the organization, does not overestimate his importance as an individual, and discourages development of a personality cult. He must have a healthy mixture of confidence (for the organization) and humility (for himself). He must have a dignified physical appearance without extravagance. He must accept and learn from previous mistakes, live a simple life away from extravagance, and not distinguish himself from the followers.  He must be hinest even in small matters, have financial integrity and transparency, and avoid any appearance of impropriety.



The conceptual skills are vision, setting goals, prudence, knowledge, and commitment. Leaders see far, have a broad view, are ummatic and not parochial. They see local issues from a holistic ummatic context but they use local solutions for local problems. They accept diversity, get consensus on strategic issues, set goals, avoid speculation, and balance risk with caution. They acquire basic knowledge but rely on others for specialized knowledge. They are committed to the organization (vision and values) and the followers. They fulfil promises and are committed to carrying out decisions. They are flexible in changing strategy and tactics when necessary but they remain committed to the permanent values of the organisation. Part of the leader’s commitment is to lead for no personal gain or ambition seeking leadership.



The main practical skills of leaders are communication, decision making, planning and execution, team leadership, motivation, conflict resolution, and maintaining relations. Communication conveys vision and plans to the followers. Leadership fails if communication fails. Failure to make correct decisions on time or solving problems timely leads to leadership failure. Managerial functions are planning, setting goals & objectives, and evaluation. Leaders form and lead work groups. They coordinate their work and allocate tasks.



Good leaders show concern, respect, and consideration for followers. They understand those below them as unique individuals to de dealt with in an individualized way. They have a firm belief in people. They have compassion and empathy. They have high consideration for others. They have no pride and are like their followers not seeking to be different from or superior to them. They are lenient and forgiving. They treat their followers well. They protect the followers from both physical and emotional hurt. They represent followers and their interests in front of others.

Communication is transfer of information using symbols. The meaning of the symbols is interpreted subjectively by the recipient. Communication may be consciously or unconsciously. It may be verbal (oral or written) or non-verbal (body language & appearance). Its elements are the sender, the message, the medium, the receiver, and feedback. Its functions are informing, controlling, expressing emotions, and motivating. Its channels are personal static such as letters, impersonal static such as flyers, direct interaction such as face-to-face communication, and indirect interaction such as telephone communication. Perception, the organizing and interpreting of incoming information, is selective being influenced by environment, background knowledge, and background attitudes. Different people perceive the same communication differently.

The communication process consists of conceptualization of ideas, encoding and transmitting the message, decoding and interpretation of the message, and feedback. Words have power and must be selected carefully because they determine and restricts thought. Language must be appropriate (by intimacy, professional circles, age group, and gender), individualized, precise, believable, credible, and pleasant. Communication style reflects basic personality. Barriers to effective communication are prejudgment before communication, differences between communicators (self-image, status, roles, personality, cognitive ability, physical situation, social status, culture, vocabulary, and language), distractions, emotional resistance to being on the receiving end, time constraints, poor listening, poor speech, bad timing, and unsuitable circumstances. Other causes of communication failure are multiple meanings of words, information overlord, verbosity, value judgment, and filtering.

Face-to-face communication is usually the best form of communication because of immediate feedback. Success of oral communication (speaking and listening) is affected by language use, voice and inflexion, speed and volume, periods of silence, active listening, body language, clear speech with an objective, repetition, conciseness, and feedback. When urguing a case, start from a common ground, use only logical reasoning, and do not be emotional. Silence is better than careless, wrong, offensive, or misleading talk. What leads to confusion should not be said even if it is true. Listening can be active (with feedback) or passive (no response). Barriers to effective listening are weak extrinsic motivation, personal constraints, environmental constraints, and poor timing of the message.

Public speaking informs, entertains, inspires, convinces, motivates, teaches, and trains. It involves the speaker, the message, the situation, feed-back, and listeners. The speaker must have integrity, knowledge, a positive attitude, sensitivity to the audience and the situation, oral skills, self-confidence, self-control, good preparation, energy, sincerity, and credibility (based on physical appearance, posture, gestures, movements, and voice quality). A successful speech is short, simple, sincere, related to the audience, well prepared, based on knowledge of the subject, innovative, and creative. The topic is narrowed to 2-3 points. The introduction is a concise overview that raises interest and expectations. The body of the speech consists of main points as well as links and transitions to ensure a smooth flow. The conclusion summarizes key ideas, gives a sense of completeness, and appeals to the audience. The language must be clear and appropriate for the topic, situation, and audience. Rehearsing a speech increases the speaker's confidence. The methods of delivery are from memory, by reading manuscript, ex-tempore, and impromptu. Retention is increased by audio-visuals, repetition, periods of silence, audience participation, short and simple speeches, examples and stories, acronyms, memorable quotes, sincerity, appropriate body language and emotion. Problems from the audience are heckling, hositility, inattention, and challenges by experts. The speaker must antricipate questions and prepare for them. He must empathize with the questioner and show he understands them.

Written communication projects image about the writer and leaves a permanent record. The aim of official writing is to express and not impress. It must be brief, precise, direct, forceful, accurate, and result-oriented. Long convoluted sentences should be abandoned for short powerful sentences. The language must be simple and devoid of technical jargon. Writing is helped by thinking logically of blocks of ideas and then translating them into a document. Writing must be emotionally honest, evidence-oriented, directed at solving problems, and purposive.  The writing process consists of creating followed by revising.

Daily life, public or private, revolves around negotiating with others. The Qur’an has recorded many instances of discussion in the form of negotiations always emphasizing the need for discussion in a good way. Negotiation is necessary to protect your interests, and get as much advantage as possible without entering into costly and bruising confrontations. Most conflicts can be resolved through negotiation. Good negotiation turns confrontation into cooperation. Physicians must be able to negotiate with their patients and relative to agree on a treatment plan otherwise a lot of conflicts and misunderstandings will occur. Negotiation skills can be learned. Negotiations can be win-win in which each party leaves satisfied or win-lose in which one party leaves with a feeling of winning and the other leaves with a feeling of having lost. A win-win outcome is the best in a negotiation. It ensures that each party gets the maximum it can from the transaction, part as friends who can work together again. Both objectives and relations must be considered. Future relationships may be lost by aggressive pursuit of objectives.

Negotiating is strategy. Never enter a negotiation unless you have a well worked out strategy and a clear objective. A negotiator must know the bottom-line from the beginning and must work out the worst-case scenario. A key to good negotiation is to be able to understand the other party's negotiation strategy and to acknowledge its strong and valid points. Understanding does not imply acceptance but goes a long way toward a win-win outcome. It is better to use persuasion ratherb than power. It is better to warn than to threaten. Provocations should be avoided. A win-lose formula in negotiations can work only if future relationships do not matter. Win-lose situations often end up as lose-lose to the detriment of both parties. It is advisable aim at a win-win outcome even if you can get away with a win-lose outcome. Negotiations should not wander away from rationality. Every negotiation involves making concessions and compromises. Privacy, patience, and time are needed for success of negotiations. Simultaneous negotiation over several issues at the same time increases the possibility of a compromise. Brinkmanship and bluffs lead to disaster in most negotiating situations.

Aggressive tactics are pressure tactics and intimidation.  Friendly tactics are the kid-glove and the good-guy/bad-guy combination. Evasive tactics are hiding behind an invisible authority, stone walling, and deception. Provocative tactics are attempts to erode confidence, provoking emotions, anger, and personal attacks. Effective approaches consist of being aware of risks, an incremental approach, follow-up and implementation.

The actual negotiation session should be planned as much as possible. Never leave anything to chance. Background information must be collected. A negotiating strategy must be adopted. A negotiation session has the following main stages: setting the agenda, opening the negotiations, demands and offers, narrowing differences between the parties, final bargaining, persuading the other party to cross the last hurdle to agreement, and implementation of the negotiated deal. Think about implementation of negotiated deal during the negotiation. Minimize risks in the deal.

The following are barriers to successful negotiations: a negative attitude to negotiations, poor communication skills, lack of knowledge, lack of confidence in negotiations, fear of confrontation, being emotional and not being objective, being reactive, treating the other party as adversaries who must lose, and aggressive behavior. Deadlocked negotiations are natural because there are issues that are not negotiable. Deadlocks should be anticipated and contingency plans should be made. If it is in your interests to continue the negotiations, devise ways and means of getting around a dead-lock. Stay calm and keep negotiating. You have to change the rules of the game or reframe issues. Consider all alternatives and look for options. Utilize maximum flexibility but never lose sight of the final goals and your permanent interests. 


Writings of Professor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr

This section provides thoughts in Islamic Epistemology and Curriculum Reform.
This section covers motivation of a medical student and development of personal skills: social, intellectual, professional behavior etc. It also equips the medical student with leadership skills that will be required of him as a future physician.

New Items

This section contains monthly e-newsletter presents the most recent developments in the fields of Islamic epistemology and educational curriculum reform summarized from books, journals, websites, interviews, and academic proceedings (conferences, seminars, and workshops). We also accept original contributions of less than 500 words...

Recent Uploads

This section provides inter-disciplinary books authored by renowned scholars.

This section contains different e-journals.