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How Muslim doctors save lives

By The Times-Union


Asma Mobin-Uddin


Asma Mobin-Uddin is a pediatrician from Columbus, Ohio, and the board chairwoman for the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Her parents came to Jacksonville from Pakistan to continue their training in their physician specialties. She was born in Miami, but moved to Ohio while still a young child.


Last modified 7/13/2007 - 4:59 pm
Originally created 071507


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.

If these accusations are true, they are 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, I am following the London and Glasgow terror plot investigation with 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. The Quranic verse that equates saving one life with saving the lives of all of humanity teaches me the sacredness of 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 anesthesia, surgery, ophthalmology and pharmacology.

Muslim physicians were the first to systematically use inhalational anesthesia, sedating patients 800 years ago in Islamic Spain by placing sponges soaked in narcotics over the patient's nose and mouth prior to 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.

Medical knowledge from the work of early Muslim physicians was translated from Arabic into Latin and channeled into Europe during the Crusades and afterward.

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 numbers of Muslim physicians who have served their patients in the West with the utmost of kindness, compassion and skill. Both of my parents were physicians from Pakistan who came to the United States and practiced here for decades.

While a faculty member at the University of Miami in the 1960s, my father, the late Kazi Mobin-Uddin, developed the first inferior vena caval filter that was implanted by a catheter and trapped blood clots going to the lungs. In 1969, Newsweek magazine reported that the Mobin-Uddin Umbrella Filter would save 50,000 lives a year.

The current director of the National Institutes of Health, America's primary federal agency for conducting and supporting medical research, is a Muslim physician.

The stark contrast between my experiences and the news I am seeing helps explain the disbelief and outrage I feel when learning that Muslim doctors may be guilty of plotting terror. Such heinous actions would be a betrayal of their profession, their faith, and the incredible legacy of service to humanity they have inherited as Muslim physicians.

I know these suspects are an aberration - people gone wrong as human beings sometimes do. If they are guilty, they must be brought to justice.

As with anyone accused of a crime, we must deal with them as individuals who chose evil on their own and not as representative of their faith or profession.

The acts of these few suspected criminals should not cause us to forget the tremendous contribution of Muslim physicians to the field of medicine.

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