Should graduate doctors start work early?
We are a group of final year medical students who have just graduated and registered for our foundation year to work in hospitals. Generally, the foundation year starts in August. However, if we wish to start earlier particularly to assist with Covid-19, this is optional. As Ramadan is almost upon us, would it be better for us to stay at home and try to fully utilise Ramadan and start in August, or is it better for us to start working in the hospital? If it is better to start working, is it better for us to stay at home or at the hospital accommodation to minimise the risk of our family members being exposed? Finally, would it be considered Jihad of the doctor to serve on the front-line in hospitals, where there is a high chance of exposing oneself to the disease?
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بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
The decision of when to start working is an individual decision that needs to be taken in light of your own personal circumstances along with the need in the local hospitals. If the local hospitals are sufficiently staffed, you may decide to remain at home so you can fast and perform other acts of worship with ease. If, however, the hospitals require doctors and you can potentially contribute to saving lives, then this is definitely worth considering. Saving lives is a very noble endeavour. Ultimately, this is a personal decision which you need to take and whatever route you take, you will be rewarded based on your good intention.
In relation to the final part of your question, Jihad literally means struggle and in Islam it generally refers to fighting in the path of Allah for a religious purpose. Sometimes the term is also used more broadly for struggles and sacrifices. There is no doubt that the sacrifices of doctors and nurses and the risks they are undertaking are highly commendable. Accordingly, working on the medical front-line can be described as Jihad as part of the broader use of the term – the struggle and sacrifice of doctors. Many doctors and nurses have passed away and this is testament to their dedication, bravery, and concern for fellow human beings. Anyone who passes away from the virus is regarded a martyr, and the reward for those who attract the virus whilst attempting to save the lives of others is greater.
However, it should be noted that the standard rules of Ghusl and shrouding will apply. This is because the rulings pertaining to martyrs in a battlefield are specific and do not extend to other deaths where the status of martyr is afforded in relation to the hereafter.
Allah knows best
25 Shaʿbān 1441 / 19 April 2020
Approved by: Mufti Shabbir Ahmad and Mufti Muhammad Tahir