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Similarities Between Medicine and the Darse-Nizami, Part III

June 23, 2006

kr’s note: This is the third and concluding part of the post begun nearly two weeks ago.

6. Pharmacology = Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence). Pharmacology is the
study of various drugs and substances and their effects on the human body. It
also deals with when/how much of a drug a person needs to receive based on
their health state, allergies, other medications they might be taking, etc. It’s
unfortunately also one of the most abused disciplines by doctors and laymen
alike; the former often wrongly dosing patients or even abusing prescriptions (such
as pain killers) for themselves, the latter’s abuse is self-explanatory.
Nonetheless, pharmacology depends on a solid understanding of physiology, since
most drugs work by manipulating the body’s physiology to create an effect,
whether it is desired or not. At the highest level, however, it is a beautiful
discipline that contains discussions such as the understanding of how a drug works,
what is the principle behind it, when other medications might be needed
(whether they are better or complentary), and also a study of “alternative”
schools of pharmacology (ayurvedic, herbal, etc). Fiqh is often considered by
many as the main component of Islamic scholarship. It deals with both practical
and hypothetical situations, with the main idea being what is the ruling in a
given time and place. Unfortunately, it too is often misunderstood and abused
by both scholars and common people, often leading to disastrous results. The
Darse Nizami is primarly a Hanafi curriculum; hence books of increasing
difficulty, such as Nur al-Idah, Mukhtasar al-Quduri, Sharh Wiqayah, and
Kanz al-Daqa’iq all prepare the prospective scholar for the crowning Hanafi
fiqh book, al-Hidayah of Imam al-Marghinani. And just as the doctor must
know of other alternative schools of therapeutics, the future scholar must have
a working knowledge of the other three schools of jurisprudence as well.

7. Physiology = Usul al-Fiqh (Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence). Physiology
is the study of how living organisms function in a normal and healthy state. Whereas
anatomy dealt with the morphology (shape and form) of the human body,
physiology deals with the function of living things. Physiology deals with how
organs and tissues work, how they are controlled, how they interact with other
parts of the body, and how they are integrated within the individual. In short,
it tells us, theoretically, how the body should be so that one can detect when
things have gone wrong in the body. Usul comprises of rules of thumb, maxims,
and other theoretical principles that dictate how Islamic Law functions. Unlike
Fiqh itself, which deals with the specifics of a situation and how to remedy it
(how many days can one wipe over leather socks, for example, while being a
resident vs a traveller) but deals with the bigger picture, ie, the principles
that govern how such a law came into place. The greatest scholars of any
generation are brilliant usulis, people who saw the forest from the trees and
held firm to the principle, even if the ruling changed. Hence, books of
increasing sophistication are used for the prospective scholar: Nur al-Anwar,
Usul al-Shashi, Hussami
, etc. Just as there was a relationship between
anatomy and physiology, there is a relationship between the Arabic language and
usul, since many rulings (such as the difference between the Hanafis and Shafi’is
in whether or not the elbow is included in ablution depends on the
interpretation of the word “ila”) depend on one’s understanding of how the text
(Qur’an, Hadith, etc) are written.

8. The 6 Core Rotations/Clerkships (Medicine, Surgery, Family Medicine
Pediatrics, Obstetrics/Gynecology, and Psychiatry) correspond nicely with the 6
main books of hadith
taught during the final year: Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim,
Jami` al-Tirmidhi, Sunan Abu Dawud, Sunan al-Nisa’i, and Ibn Majah. I think the
order I’ve stated above for each of the rotations corresponds nicely with the
order I’ve given for the books of Hadith. For example, knowledge of Medicine is
the foundation for any “real” doctor (yes, this is a shot at surgeons… as Dr.
Cox said, “I would say that surgeons are about as useful as rocks, except that
we actually make use of rocks to build bridges and throw them at those people
that talk with those tiny cell phones in their ear.) just as the scholar must
know Bukhari well.

9. The M4/Residency Years correspond with further specialization that a
scholar chooses to do (takhassus in Hadith, iftah course, etc.) once he/she has
completed the main alim course. In a way then, both medical school and the alim
course are also tools in that they allow a person to further explore the depths
of a given field. Of course, one may choose not to specialize in both medicine
and Islamic scholarship and can still benefit society with this level of

10. Finally, there’s many other minor similarities that exist between the
two fields of study that I’ll simply state here as a final note:

  • Both are
    taught by masters of their respective fields
  • Both have
    a sophisticated yet unstated system of “academic politics” wherein a
    hierarchy is established, usually with the senior clinicians/scholars at
    the top and the students at the bottom, often serving as “scut monkeys”/”khidmat
    (hospitality) committees” for the higher ups =).
  • In
    both fields, students graduate as equals—technically on paper—of their
  • In
    both medicine and Islamic scholarship, the lay people admire and venerate
    (well, at least they used to) the doctor and the scholar.
  • Both
    fields demand that one remain committed to a lifelong process of learning,
    reviewing, and further researching to keep up to date with the latest
    trends and developments
  • Finally,
    and perhaps most importantly, both the doctor and the scholar deal with
    the two of the most vital components of the human being: the body and the
    soul, respectively. The well-being of each of these lies in the feeble
    hands of the doctor of medicine and the doctor of Sacred Law. Perhaps this
    is why each Prophet (upon whom be peace) engaged in both professions and
    thus both the physician and the alim walk in the footsteps of the
    Messengers. And thus the doctor must take great care in treating his/her
    patients, just as the scholar must show, above all, the Prophetic
    attribute of compassion and tolerance to those people whom he wishes to

Of course, there’s many differences in these two
professions, perhaps the most striking one being that scholars don’t get paid
nearly as much as doctors…hehe, but that’s a discussion for another day.


From → Uncategorized

  1. *inserting blind allegiance eProps*

  2. usmania opened up a zabiha chinese restaurant on deewon. rumor has it that tomorrow is the grand opening and theyre giving away free khaana after 3 pm.

  3. wow, there’s a third part in the series.

  4. Wow, this was a really good series of posts, and it’s sad from the comments so far that no one seemed to read it and is instead just commenting about HTML issues. Get over it people. I didn’t know much about the Dars Nizami and how organized and systematic it was. I liked all the similarities and the reasons why you thought they were similar. As someone who didnt know much about either field, this was done very nicely to explain to “laymen” like us.All in all, I give this an ANow update more often!

  5. Anonymous permalink

    haha @ omar’s comments…
    dude your posts are getting shorter and shorter…are you feeling okay?

  6. haha, alti is funny.scholars are wealthier because they have less money to be held accountable for. Successful doctors wil get pwned on the Last Day. Allah have Mercy.

  7. A great conclusion to a great series… it’s all over sunniforum

  8. Anonymous permalink

    sounds pretty interesting

  9. what about successful doctors who are also scholars, such as shaykh hussain? =)

  10. Kamkam is such a squirrel. Mashallah. I really enjoyed these comparisons of yours…

  11. Masha Allah…I loved it…..yeah…insha allah…my kid’s are going to be both……you better teach them the tricks of the trade eh?
    and masha allah…you are nearly there… would be a dream to see that not only doctors, but a person of any profession completing both the courses….
    *goes to paste this on sunniforum*

  12. Anonymous permalink

    Good Stuff Mashallah!

  13. yes, great conclusion.  perhaps my favorite of the series and I agree, quite informative for someone that knew little about both fields.  well done yet again, mashaAllah.

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