Kenyan Muslim leader comment on Islamic medical ethics open to question

Sheikh Abduwahab Mursal, described in a Daily Nation report as a “top religious leader” in Kenya, is reported to have said that “it [is] a taboo in the Islamic faith for a woman to be touched by or discuss sexuality with a man even if he is a medical practitioner.”  The comment appears in a news story about Sheikh Mursal’s efforts to convince Muslims in Kenya to embrace “modern family planning” practices. [Daily Nation].  The Sheik is  secretary of the Wajir branch of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya.

This kind of assertion has created an impression in western countries that Muslim physicians may not examine patients of the opposite sex, an impression that is being used to justify suppression of freedom of conscience among health care workers, and which tends to fuel prejudice against Muslim medical and nursing students and physicians.  If the Sheikh’s statement has been accurately reported, it is certainly at odds with practice in even the most conservative Islamic countries.

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