Assalamu alaikum I have been invited by my local GP surgery to have a cervical smear test. Is it permitted to have a routine cervical smear test carried out at your local doctor’s surgery, but there is a chance that you may/may not have cervical cancer? If there is nothing wrong with you, then does this mean you have unnecessarily exposed your satar?
In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.
It is stated in Fatawa Hindiyyah that there are three types of means to remove harms and difficulties:
1) Those that remove potential harm for certain such as the drinking of water in order to quench thirst and eating of food in order to remove hunger.
2) Those that by using them, it is presumed health will be restored such as medical treatment.
3) Those that may cure (but less significant than the second situation) such as the using of amulets etc…
With regards to the first type, abstaining from using them is no way considered as part of reliance and trust in Allah, rather it is unlawful to refrain from using these means. If a person was to die due to not drinking water, he will be sinful.
The second type of means, using it is not contrary to the concept of Tawakkul, and abstaining from its usage is not a sin also.
The third type of means is not essential in that complete reliance in Allah is only achieved by abstaining from using them.
A smear test will fall under category number two where it is mustuhub to treat yourself and certainly it is not against the concept of tawakkul or placing trust and reliance on Allah.
With regards to the issue of exposing your satr the ruling on whether a male can treat or touch female genital organs or vice versa can be seen from the following ruling found in Allahmah Ibn Abideen Shami (RA) Raddul Muhtar.
If a Muslim female is in need of medical treatment, then one should endeavour and try that she is treated by a female doctor, or by a male Muslim doctor who is a relative of the female. (Raddul Muhtar P.529 V.9)
However, if that is not possible then in extreme and dire situations it will be permissible for a male doctor to examine and treat a female patient.
Allahmah Ibn Abideen Shami (RA) has written in his Raddul Muhtar:
“…And for the medical treatment in that a male doctor may look at (and treat) the effected area but only to the extent of need… And it is preferable that the male doctor teaches and instructs a female to treat her, for looking at someone from the same gender is a lesser of an evil.” (P.533 V.9)
He goes on to say; “If the treatment is on her private parts; then he should teach and instruct a female to treat her. If this is not possible and it is feared that the woman patient may die or undergo unbearable pains, only then it will be permissible for a male doctor to treat her, provided her non effected parts of the body are covered and provided he keeps his gaze as low as much as possible except from the effected area.” (Ibid)
The conclusion we can come to is that it will be permissible to have a smear test but try your utmost best to make sure it is being done by a woman. Only after exerting your efforts if a woman cannot be found then preferably a God fearing Muslim doctor.
Only Allah Knows Best
Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham