Established by a small number of Muslim physicians in 1967, the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) is a nonprofit organization that aims to provide “a platform for Muslim physicians and students to discuss issues and share ideas relevant to Muslims in North America and around the world”; to enable its members to “enrich their professional knowledge and learn about the theory and practice of Islamic medical ethics”; to “promote a better understanding, appreciation and propagation of Islam”; to “encourage professional interaction between Muslim physicians and other Allied Health Professionals and Physicians”; to “assist in the orientation, adjustment and training of Muslim Physicians and Health Professionals new to North America”; to “promote and facilitate medical education, research, publications and improved health care services throughout the world”; and to “participate in medical relief work and other charitable activities.”
In 1977 IMANA officially adopted the “Oath of a Muslim Physician,” which states: “We serve no other God besides [Allah] and regard idolatry as an abominable injustice.”
IMANA sends medical supplies and medical personnel to places where they are urgently needed. For example, the organization’s medical relief missions have delivered aid to the people of Bosnia, Kosovo, Turkey, Venezuela, the Carolinas, and Chechnya.
IMANA has also established an education fund to provide financial assistance to promising Muslim students who aspire to enter the medical profession.
A constituent organization of the Islamic Society of North America, IMANA holds annual week-long conferences for Muslim physicians. Every alternate year, these events are held in venues outside of North America, in countries with large Muslim populations or Muslim heritages. Between 1991 and 2007, these foreign venues included China, South Africa, Iran, Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia, Turkey, and Spain.
IMANA publishes the quarterly Journal of Islamic Medical Association, as well as a bimonthly newsletter which updates its readers on IMANA’s activities and campaigns.
IMANA’s Medical Ethics Committee “aims to provid[e] ethical guidelines in patient care from an Islamic perspective.” In November 2007, this Committee addressed not only the question of whether hunger-striking detainees in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay ought to be force-fed by authorities, but also the larger issue of how the detainees were being treated. Declared the Committee:
“We choose to follow the World Medical Association’s Declaration on Hunger Strikers that unambiguously states that forced feeding is a form of inhuman and degrading treatment….
“[W]e especially wish to … ask that the United States: hold abusers of detainees accountable; prohibit abusive interrogations; and close Guantanamo Bay without delay. We also ask, along with others, the US Government to follow the ruling of the US Supreme court that these detainees are subject to the Geneva Conventions. We also ask that these detainees get a fair trial. They should be charged and punished if guilty and freed if they are innocent. We have serious concerns about the moral standing of the United States …
“Given the gravity of suicide in the Islamic tradition, we do not understand how a Muslim detainee would proceed with a hunger strike to the point of death except as a form of protest and for the purpose of drawing attention to his grievances. In these circumstances, those grievances must be addressed. Such people should be given full access to medical care, pastoral care, and mental health services to best assess the intention of their actions and to counsel them on the grave consequences of suicide in Islam….”
IMANA is a member of the Federation of Islamic Medical Associations (FIMA), which seeks “to foster the unity and welfare of Muslim medical professionals all over the world.” A fellow FIMA member is the Islamic Medical Association’s United Kingdom branch. In 2006, Dr. Abdul Majid Katme, a psychiatrist who heads the UK branch, announced that it was “against Islam” for Muslim parents to have their children vaccinated; he explained that many vaccines contain “haram” or “parts” of animals that are not slaughtered ritualistically in a manner consistent with Muslim requirements. Dr. Katme also said that vaccines contain alcohol, which strictly observant Muslims are forbidden to consume; that inoculation is unnecessary for Muslim children because mothers adhering to Islamic Law nurse them until age two, giving the youngsters “natural immunity” in the process; and that “[i]f you breastfeed your child for two years — as the Koran [advises] — and you eat Koranic food like olives and black seed, and you do ablution [ritual washing] each time you pray, then you will have a strong defence system.”
“[T]he reluctance of a minority within the general population to inoculate can endanger everyone, and in fact can result in an epidemic. In India, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent years, large outbreaks have been seen as a direct result of the refusal of local populations to be inoculated. In Nigeria in 2004, a mass protest against polio vaccination was led by Muslims who railed that the vaccines were part of a U.S. plot to render Muslims sterile…. [T]he protest continued for months, and several children came down with polio. Some months later, as a direct result of this single Nigerian state’s refusal to vaccinate, a polio resurgence was seen across 10 nations, all of whom were previously polio-free!”
In February 2008 it was reported that Muslim medical students in Britain were refusing, on religious grounds, to obey commonly accepted hygiene rules aimed at preventing the spread of disease. Sheffield University, for instance, reported a case of a Muslim medic who refused to “scrub” because she did not wish to violate the religious injunction against exposing her forearms. Similarly, documents from Birmingham University indicated that some Muslim students would sooner drop out of the medical program than expose their forearms. “No practising Muslim woman — doctor, medical student, nurse or patient — should be forced to bare her arms below the elbow,” said IMANA. The aforementioned Dr. Katme stated: “Exposed arms can pick up germs and there is a lot of evidence to suggest skin is safer to the patient if covered. One idea might be to produce long, sterile, disposable gloves which go up to the elbows.”
IMANA was named in a May 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document — titled “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America” — as one of the Brotherhood’s 29 likeminded “organizations of our friends” that shared the common goal of destroying America and turning it into a Muslim nation. These “friends” were identified by the Brotherhood as groups that could help teach Muslims “that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands … so that … God’s religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions.”
Also named in the Muslim Brotherhood document were: