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Is it permissible for men to take up the profession and study of gynaecology, and also practice it, which would involve would involve examination, history taking and/or surgery?

Is it impermissible under any and all conditions? If not, then under what conditions is it allowed?

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Technically speaking, it is permissible. There are no bars. But the problem is more of a sociological nature, and it is not just Muslim women or their spouses who feel unfcomfortable when consulting a male gyneacologist, I distinctly recall reading a news article long time back mentioning that japanese women resist breast examinations by male doctors, leading to a possibly undiagonized case of breast cancer. Similar feelings are also shared by at least some US women in certain ways. So there is a certain sensitivity here, rooted in the dynamics of men, women and human sexuality. To make matters more complicated, unscruplous male practioners have been convicted of inappropriate behavior with patients. According to canonical Islamic fatawah the order of preference is that a female gynaecologist should examine women and if one is not available then a male doctor can be called upon.

Regarding under what conditions it is disallowed or allowed, well as I said, there should be no conditions whatsoever. It is a veritible field of medical practice and it should not matter if you are a man or woman if you want to specialize in it. Economics and market trends are deciding factors here, not religious edicts. If there is a dearth of gyanaecologists in one geographic area, then of course it seems reasonable that one would specliaze in it to meet the demand, and more importantly, avail a job oppurtunity. That is the supply side of the equation. The demand side is this: given the general preference for female doctors in the Muslim world, their fees tend to be higher (more or less). So what happens to the poor guy who cannot afford a female gyaneacologist for his family member? There has to be mechanism to offset this asymmetry. Here is another point and it is a very important one in my view: you simply cannot have an all female gyaneacologist medical sorrority. In the Muslim world, women are distinctly behind men in professional development--a statement of fact--so who is going to train all these sought after gyaneagologists?

  • Could you back this up with some reference that would serve as a canonical fatawah or an Islamic proof? This answer looks more inclined toward economics and cultural matters rather than providing a core Islamic perspective. The point regarding affordability seems plausible but you should provide some Islamic proof and/or some fatawah. And yeah, welcome to Islam. – Bleeding Fingers Jan 23 '14 at 17:38
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    @BleedingFingers: The Fatawah are there for sure. I need to locate and cite an accessable source. I've heard them from the pulpit of the Mosque and read them in newspaper columns devoted to religous rulings ("Aap kay Masial aur un ka hal", "Your problems and their solutions", Maulana Yousuf Ludhiyanwi--a famed scholar of the sunni deoband school in Pakistan). But the material now has to be relocated, given that it dates back to at least 10-15 years in the past. Your comment deserves a little more elaborate response than this, please give me some time to respond systematically. – Iconoclast Jan 23 '14 at 17:52
  • Sure, you have all the time. But the answer could attract downvotes if left in it's current state. To avoid that you could delete this answer and when you have the necessary information available then you could come back to it and simply edit and then undelete it. That said, another problem I see in this answer is that it gives the impression, if not intended, that the rules of Islam are flexible in favor of economic and material opportunism rather then the rules of mahram and non-mahram. – Bleeding Fingers Jan 23 '14 at 18:01
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    A downvote for your answer Iconcalst, especially for the notions in your second paragraph which to me is an outright secularist, materialist compromise of Islam for an insane, blind profit-driven economic world. In essence, Islam not economy or anything else should dictate what is right and wrong. – infatuated Jan 24 '14 at 5:10

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