Subject : Islamic Ruling on Gifts Presented to Medical Doctors
Fatwa Number : 3843
Date : 17-12-2023
Classified : "Hibaa"Donation, Grant
Fatwa Type : Search Fatawaa

Question :

I am the owner of a baby formula agency, and I want to promote my products by giving gifts to midwives in hospitals, knowing that most formula companies engage in this practice. If I don't do this, I won't be able to continue in the market. Is this permissible according to Sharia?

The Answer :

All perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.

Giving gifts (Hiba) is recommended by scholarly consensus, and evidence for that is found both in the Quran and Sunnah. As for the Quran, Allah says {What means}: "And give the women (on marriage) their dower as a free gift; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, Take it and enjoy it with right good cheer." {An-Nisaa`, 4}. Imam Al-Baghawi, the Shafi'i scholar and commentator, said: "but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you," it means if their hearts are pleased with something from it, they may voluntarily give it to you." [Ma'alim al-Tanzil, Vol. 1/P. 566]. As for the Sunnah, Allah's Messenger (PBUH) said: "O Muslim women, a woman neighbor should not consider even a goat's hoof too insignificant a gift to give to her neighbor." [Bukhari & Muslim]. Sheikh Al-Islam Al-Nawawi said: "This prohibition of belittling is directed to the giver of the gift, meaning she should not refrain from giving charity or a gift to her neighbor due to her neighbor's independence or her own disdain, but she should be generous with what is easy for her, even if it is little, like the hoof of a sheep, and it is better than nothing... It is also possible that the prohibition is directed to the receiver of the gift, that she should not belittle it." [Sharh Sahih Muslim, Vol. 7/P. 120].

However, in some cases, scholars make exceptions to the recommendation of giving gifts. Imam Al-Sharbini, may Allah have mercy on him, said: "And there may be reasons that exempt it (giving gifts) from being recommended. This includes giving gifts to authorities and employees - meaning government officials - as it is forbidden for them to accept gifts from the people under their authority, especially if it was not their habit to do so before assuming the position. This is explicitly stated in its appropriate context. Another case is when the giver uses it to seek assistance in committing a sinful act." [Mughni al-Muhtaj, Vol. 3/P. 558]."

As for gifts presented to doctors and similar professionals by pharmaceutical or food manufacturing companies, or by drug importers, whether in the form of products, tangible gifts, or material grants, it is permissible if it does not influence the doctor's decision in prescribing specific treatments for the patient. The gifts should not make the doctor prefer a particular type of medication over others solely because it comes from the company offering the gifts. However, if the doctor prescribes what is most suitable for the patient's health or financial well-being, there is no harm in presenting or accepting such gifts. Nevertheless, it is preferable to avoid such practices to avoid any suspicion.

If these gifts and grants have an impact on the professionalism and advice of the doctor, and if their primary purpose is purely commercial, such as directing patients exclusively to deal with a specific company without the medication having an advantage over others, especially with a higher price, causing financial strain on the patient, and the doctor failing to provide genuine advice, then it is prohibited for the company to offer such gifts. Similarly, it is prohibited for the doctor to accept them. This prohibition is based on the Quranic verse: "O ye who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves in vanities: But let there be amongst you Traffic and trade by mutual good-will: Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily God hath been to you Most Merciful! ." {An-Nisaa`, 29}. Additionally, such practices can be considered bribery, which is explicitly condemned. Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr bin al-Aas (RA): Allah's Messenger (PBUH) cursed the one who bribes and the one who takes bribes. [Reported by Abu Dawud].

As for gifts in the form of pharmaceutical or food samples given to doctors and similar professionals to be used as free samples, accepting them is permissible because they fall under the category of donation rather than bribery.

In conclusion, if the company offers gifts to midwives in exchange for them exclusively promoting their product without it having any advantage over others, especially with a higher price, accepting and offering such gifts is considered haram (Prohibited) as it falls under the category of bribery. However, if the company is providing these gifts as a form of self-promotion without pressuring or influencing midwives' decisions, then offering and accepting the gifts is permissible.

For further details, please refer to the resolutions of the Fatwa Council, numbers (145) and (249), as well as fatwa number (920). And Allah the Almighty knows best.








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