Response to fiqhtions: Muslim Authorities cannot impose medical treatment without consent

Fiqhtion: The authorities cannot impose medical treatment without consent.

Fiqh: The Islamic Fiqh Academy in Jeddah (Majma’ al-fiqh al-islami)—one of the more reputable councils for examining contemporary fiqh issues—mentions several cases where patient consent is not required, including that

ب – لولي الأمر الإلزام بالتداوي في بعض الأحوال، كالأمراض المعدية والتحصينات الوقائي
ج – في حالات الإسعاف التي تتعرض فيها حياة المصاب للخطر لا يتوقف العلاج على الإذن

b) The authority can require taking medication in some situations, such as infectious diseases and preventative immunizations.
c) In emergency situations where the patient life is at risk, treatment does not depend upon consent

The passage is repeated verbatim in many other references, included in Dr Wahbe al-Zuhayli’s Al-Fiqh al-islami wa adillatuhu.[2]

For additional benefit, Dr al-Zuhayli mentions the following:

وتختلف أحكام التداوي باختلاف الأحوال والأشخاص:
فيكون واجبًا على الشخص إذا كان تركه يفضي إلى تلف نفسه أو أحد أعضائه أو عجزه، أو كان المرض ينتقل ضرره إلى غيره، كالأمراض المعدية.

“The rulings for medication differ according to situations and individuals.
It is obligatory for persons when leaving it would lead to loss of his life, one of his limbs, or disability, or if the disease’s harm spreads to others, such as with infectious diseases.”[3]

So, yes, there are situations where the authorities can impose medical treatment. Yes, there are situations where the patient’s consent is not required. And, yes, there are situations where medication is considered obligatory.

Folks who have reservations about applying old fiqh to contemporary medical issues should find more solace in answers from councils like the Islamic Fiqh Academy which typically consult with numerous fuqaha as well as with experts in the particular issue’s domain.

And Allah knows best.

[1], 7:1645
[2], 7:5206
[3], 7:5204

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