Thursday, July 05, 2007

From the Prince of Physicians to the Doctors of Destruction

The news that at least six of the eight persons arrested for the failed London and Glasgow attempts were physicians has angered and disgusted me. In all fairness, some of those arrested may be innocent acquaintances of the perpetrators. The two physicians who drove the Jeep Cherokee into the terminal at Glasgow, on the other hand, are clearly guilty.

As a physician, especially as a Middle Eastern, Muslim physician, I consider this incident a personal affront. Ours is the heritage of Ibn Sina, the prince of physicians, the author of al-Qanun fi al-tibb (The Canon of Medicine) and kitab el-shifa (The Book of Healing) and one of the greatest physicians and thinkers of all time. We are first and foremost healers. This is an immutable tenet of our profession; no sense of persecution, no bogus fatwa, no warped understanding of the meaning of jihad can ever justify healers becoming killers.

What were they thinking? How could intelligent, educated men buy into this al-Qaeda ideology of purposeless violent jihad. And purposeless it is despite claims that they are defending their faith. What have they done for their coreligionists except for spreading hatred, fear and death. What have they done for the poor and destitute, for the sick and the infirm among their own people? All they seem to be good at is figuring out new ways of causing wanton destruction. further dragging the reputation of Islam through the mud. The use of physicians as a conduit for their terror represents a new low.

I don't claim to be particularly learned in my religion, but this much I know, theirs is not a true jihad. On the other hand, Ibn Sina's vast contributions in medicine, philosophy, theology, physics and mathematics, the striving for knowledge which benefits Muslims as well as all of humanity, that is what true jihad is all about.


The Syrian Brit said...

Well said, my friend..
The rapidly developing scene has left me stunned with disbelief, and paralyzed with disgust.. The impact on 'foreign' doctors will be immeasurable, and we will be reeling from it for decades.. This will do to our reputation as 'foreign' doctors what 9/11 did to the reputation of all Muslims..
(a small correction, possibly.. I am not entirely certain that BOTH people in the burning Cherokee were doctors.. but that is really irrelevent..)

Abu Kareem said...


Glad you liked it. In fact, since the incident, I have been thinking a lot about how you must be feeling in the midst of all of this.

Anonymous said...

Abu Kareem, Syrian Brit,

Did you already notice a change in the way other doctors or patients evaluate your character? ... do you find yourself having to announce in every conversation that you do not agree with the fundamentalists?


Abu Kareem said...


I haven't noticed anything; at least nothing said to my face. I suspect it is more acute in the UK and more so for newcomers.

I think this will definitely have an impact on the number of physicians from the Middle East who are able to pursue training not only in the U.K. but also in the U.S.

The Syrian Brit said...

Alex and Abu Kareem,
I have not personally experienced any change in behaviour towards me.. My colleagues know exactly where I stand from these issues, and my patients often do not recognise me as an Arab or a Muslim... However, I think it is quite telling of the general mood, that our Hospital has issued a statement to the public that it will not tolerate any racist behaviour or remarks targetting its staff, and anybody (patients, relatives, or staff) found behaving in that manner will be actively prosecuted to the full extent of the law..