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Treatment From Non-Muslim Psychiatrist: Allowed?

21 September, 2016
Q As-salamu `alaykum. What is the Islamic point of view on mental illness and seeking help from non-Muslim doctors?


Wa `alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

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All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear brother, thank you for your question that shows your interest in Islamic rulings and teachings even regarding medical affairs.

In principle, it is allowed to seek treatment from a non-Muslim doctor as long as there is no Muslim one in the same field.

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Responding to your question, Dcr. Hatem Al-Hajj, Dean of College of Islamic Studies, Mishkah University, stated,

As for the medical treatment of mental/psychiatric conditions, there is no harm in that. In fact, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) recommended boiled barley with honey for those who suffer from depression (Al-Bukhari). This is scientifically accurate, since barley contains the precursors of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for mood control.

I would try my best handling such conditions without chemical treatment, through prayers, friendships with righteous individuals who can help relieve someone’s worries and concerns, recreation (halal) and all other means.

At one point, however, seeking medical treatment is essential, and I wouldn’t hesitate in doing that. This point may be at the very beginning of the course of the illness, if the person feels overwhelmed and thinks he/she will not be able to handle it on his/her own without medical intervention.

As for the issue of seeking medical help from non-Muslim physicians, here is the order we should follow when seeking medical help (given all physicians mentioned here are competent) :

  • A same gender Muslim physician.
  • A same gender trustworthy non-Muslim physician.
  • A different gender Muslim physician
  • A different gender trustworthy non-Muslim physician.

In summary, it is permissible to seek medical treatment from a non-Muslim physician in the absence of a similarly competent Muslim physician.

May Allah cure all Muslim patients and give us all tranquility and peace.

Allah Almighty knows best.