Presented at a symposium organized by the Students’ Society at the Faculty of Medicine, National University of Malaysia on 25th July 2004 by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule MB ChB (MUK), MPH & DrPH (Harvard) omarkasule@yahoo.com


Study of medicine is a collective duty, fardh kifayat. Each community must have an adequate number of well trained medical professionals. They should be trained in basic as well as clinical sciences. They should also be trained to understand illness in the holistic sense involving biological, social, psychological, and spiritual dimensions. They should appreciate the need to integrate these dimensions so that a patient is a treated as a whole human and not as a collection of pathological conditions. They should be balanced in attitude, committed to service, provide social and ethical leadership, and should have excellent character. They should be seek to improve continuously and must have the self –confidence to take charge of their lives. Social development should parallel professional development to produce a balanced professional



The aim of medical education is producing physicians whose practice fulfills the 5 purposes of the Law (protection of morality, life, progeny, intellect, and wealth) within a holistic tauhidi context. On graduation the new physician should have the following characteristics: health and not disease oriented, focused on quality and not quantity of life, humble to recognize limitations to their abilities, holistic in outlook, understand society, scientific capability, clinical expertise, and leadership.



European secular-oriented medicine is fragmented by organ, disease process, and is not holistic. Islam can provide an integrative tauhidi paradigm to replace the European non-tauhid world-view that is atomistic, analytic, and not synthetic. In the absence of an integrating paradigm, European medicine lacks balance and equilibrium in its therapeutic approach. The Qur’anic concepts of wasatiyyat, mizaan, i’itidaal, and tadafu’u provide a conceptual framework for balanced medical practice.



Medicine should be taught as a social service with the human dimension dominating the the biomedical dimension. Medicine should be practiced as of mutual social support. Medical education should prepare the future physician to provide service to the community. This will require skills of understanding and responding to community needs that can be acquired by spending part of the training period in a community setting away from the high technology hospital environment.



The medical school curriculum and experience should be a lesson in social responsibility and leadership. The best physician should be a social activist who goes into society and gives leadership in solving underlying social causes of ill-health. The physician as a respected opinion leader with close contact with the patients must be a model for others in moral values, attitudes, akhlaq, and thoughts. He must give leadership in preventing or solving ethical issues arising out of modern biotechnology. He must understand the medical, legal, and ethical issue involved and explain them to the patients and their families so that they can form an informed decision. He should also provide leadership in advocating for the less privileged and advocacy for human rights.



Character, determined by personality, is internal. Its outward manifestation is behavior, good or bad. Consistent observation of behavior over a long time reveals true character. The following are some of the components of a positive character: Piety, generosity, charity, chastity, trust, humility, balance, moderation, patience, endurance, cooperation, forgiving, ignoring stupid company, reconciliation, honor and dignity, shyness, modesty, integrity, courage, and wisdom. These traits are best manifested in an atmosphere of positive attitudes, optimism, and behavior. Positive behavior includes: controlling appetites (eating little, fasting, sexual self-control), fulfilling needs of others, mercy, good words and acts; and good deeds which wipe out bad ones.



Self-improvement requires commitment, effort and action to achieve goals, taking responsibility, learning from previous experiences (positive and negative), interdependence, pursing real needs and not mere wants, a positive attitude, a futuristic outlook, assertiveness, self-confidence, and self reliance, and contentment. 



Being assertive is learning to take control. A person who has self-control can stand up to the temptations of shaitan. The following are ingredients of self control: self-confidence, self-esteem, self-reliance, self-discipline, and self-development. Self-confidence is to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, to be comfortable with what you are, and to be psychologically secure. Psychological security raises self-esteem. Self-help and self-improvement are in essence taking charge of your life, relying on yourself in solving problems, and taking the initiative to improve. Self discipline is needed for success and consists of control of whims and emotions, sticking to goals, acting according to long-term and not short-term interests, avoiding impulsive acts, following the head and not the emotions, and trusting your instincts.



Social development starts with selection of a spouse and starting a family. It involves learning to develop social networks and taking social responsibilities in the community.



The factors behind professional success are a good basic education, postgraduate training, apprenticeship to a good mentor, setting goals and a time frame to achieve them, adopting a growth strategy, delivering quality results in the work and not seeking cheap publicity. Professional networking involves identification of strategic partners for mutual benefit and not manipulating or exploitation. Nurturing contacts is very important otherwise they get lost.

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule July 2004