(Dr. Asma Mobin-Uddin is a pediatrician from Columbus, Ohio, and the board chairwoman for the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.)

The thought of physicians treating sick patients by the light of day while plotting to kill innocent people under the cover of darkness sickens and angers me on a very personal level.

If the accusations surrounding terror suspects in London and Glasgow are true, these Muslim doctors represent the ultimate betrayal of the trust placed in physicians to use their hands for healing, their intellects for diagnosis, and their demeanors to bring comfort to the sick.

As a Muslim physician myself, I am following the investigation with equal parts incredulity, anger and outrage.

Islam teaches me that the gifts I have been given are entrusted to me by God for the purpose of serving humanity. I know that God is witness to my actions and intentions and I will be accountable for them. The Quranic verse that equates saving one life with saving the lives of all of humanity teaches me the sacredness of each and every life and inspires me to strive for professional excellence.

Any Muslim doctor who would plot terror betrays his or her faith, profession, and the incredible legacy Muslim physicians have left in the field of medicine. Historically, Muslim physicians from the ninth to the 14th centuries were pioneers in the development of many areas of medicine, including in anesthesia, surgery, ophthalmology, pharmacology and others.

Muslim physicians were the first to systematically use inhalational anesthesia, sedating patients 800 years ago in Spain by placing sponges soaked in narcotics over the patient’s nose and mouth before surgery. Muslim doctors introduced urinary catheters to the West, used cautery to stop bleeding and ligated blood vessels using cat-gut suture in the 10th century.

They developed the hypodermic needle and used these hollow needles to suction out cataracts 1,000 years before this practice was performed in the West. Muslim pharmaceutical texts from this era explained the preparation, uses, doses and side effects of medications and formed the basis for later European drug manuals.

Medical knowledge from the work of early Muslim physicians was translated from Arabic into Latin and channeled into Europe during the Crusades and after. Muslim doctor Ibn Sina’s Canon of Medicine was the premier medical textbook in Europe for more than 500 years. The wealth of knowledge introduced from the work of Muslim physicians into Europe sparked interest in medical scientific inquiry and fueled the Renaissance.

And lest we think that the contributions of Islam’s physicians ended 500 years ago, we should remember the countless Muslim physicians in recent times who have served their patients in the West with the utmost kindness, compassion and skill.


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