Concerns Over Female "Muslim" Medical Students Refusing to Bare Forearms to Wash Hands

Muslim medical students are refusing to obey hygiene rules brought in to stop the spread of deadly superbugs, because they say it is against their religion.

Universities and NHS trusts fear many more will refuse to co-operate with new Department of Health guidance, introduced this month, which stipulates that all doctors must be “bare below the elbow”.

The measure is deemed necessary to stop the spread of infections such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile, which have killed hundreds.

Minutes of a clinical academics’ meeting at Liverpool University revealed that female Muslim students at Alder Hey children’s hospital had objected to rolling up their sleeves to wear gowns.

Similar concerns have been raised at Leicester University. Minutes from a medical school committee said that “a number of Muslim females had difficulty in complying with the procedures to roll up sleeves to the elbow for appropriate handwashing”.

Sheffield University also reported a case of a Muslim medic who refused to “scrub” as this left her forearms exposed.

Documents from Birmingham University reveal that some students would prefer to quit the course rather than expose their arms, and warn that it could leave trusts open to legal action.\


  • A ridiculous situation.  It's unfortunate enough that Quran-based modesty suggestions are so heavily modified by cultural and religious institution customs that anyone feels the need to conceal every inch of their skin.

    It's even more unfortunate that these apparently intelligent medical and education people can't work out a simple solution.  In mere seconds I came up with the following:

    1.  Everyone else simply looks away for the time needed for the women to wash properly

    2.  Some sort of screen or divider is installed in the washing rooms, allowing these students to conceal their washing if they feel they need to

    3.  A separate "Muslim" washing area is set up next to the operating room

    I actually wonder if being a doctor in a modern-style hospital or medical facility is even possible for a Submitter.  It's no secret that doctors and nurses work ridiculously-long shifts with few moments to rest, and I can't see any hospital administration allowing a doctor or nurse to excuse themselves from their work for a few minutes to carry out ablutions and pray. 

    "It's time to pray."
    "...but we're in the middle of a surgery!"


    "It's time to pray."
    "...but there are 97 people in the waiting room!"

    Matt - thoughts?
  • A friend of mine (an Imam) once told me that the Koran recognizes that there are times when praying at a certain time may cause difficulty and so, makes concessions for those circumstances. 

    "How do you tell a communist?  Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin.  And how do you tell an anti-communist?  It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin."

    *Ronald Reagan*

  • Matt_ADMIN_Matt_ADMIN_ Administrator
    The overarching problem is that those who claim to adhere to the Quran fail to engage in any meaningful study of its revelations, and that makes any deeper engagement impossible. They haven't reached the stage where they'll accept that the Quran doesn't say (anywhere) that women have to cover their heads with anything, let alone make sure every inch of skin his hidden. If they can't understand something as basic as that, then introducing a higher-level hypothesis that Quranic medicine varies significantly from current medical idolatry won't lead anywhere; in other words, the problem isn't the relationship between women and operating rooms but the relationship between Quranic medical instruction versus reigning medical doctrine, but this level of conversation can never be reached.  

    The interpretation that the Quran allows for the shortening (not delay) of prayer under particular circumstances (said to be travel or while under duress of conflict) is relevant to this problem. This is one interpretation of that information, the traditional interpretation. However, there is another interpretation, that the information pertains not to the duration of prayer, or even to prayer at all, but rather outlines the circumstances under which believers can liberate entrapped believers in non-believing communities in a way that's secure for everyone and avoids outright conflict. It may even pertain to both things. But again, we can't reach that level of higher conservation with people when their dedicated purpose is to maintain, rather than rationally analyze God's instructions so that they may be put to practical use. 

    "...Say, 'GOD is sufficient for me.' In Him the trusters shall trust." (Quran 39:38)
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