The following is the translation of an Arabic Q&A from the website of Sheikh Ata' Abu Rashta.
In our books it has been mentioned: the basic needs of human being are three – food, clothing and dwelling. Is it permissible for us to say that the medication is also considered from among the basic needs of man, taking the following into consideration:
There are some dangerous diseases; which, if not treated, will afflict the body with huge damages and this is not allowed in accordance with the rule of damage (there should be neither harm nor malice) …
The question is: can we say – the disease is of two types – serious and simple. Thus, the colds, runny nose, headache … etc are simple diseases and their treatment is recommended while the operation of the heart, brain, flu and a broken leg ... etc are severe illness which require the treatment as an obligation …?
1- The basic needs are of two types: basic needs of individuals "food, clothing, dwelling", and the basic needs of Ummah "medicine, security and education", and this has been elaborated in the Preamble - Section II - explanation of Article 125. It seems that the adopted edition of the preamble of the second section has not been translated to your language hitherto. Otherwise, you would definitely have found the answer …
In any case, I am quoting what has been mentioned therein:
(… And as for the evidences that food, clothing and dwelling are the basic needs of individuals, and other requirements are dispensable. Ahmad has mentioned through a Sanad which was set right by Ahmad Shakir quoting Othman ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) that Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "everything, except shade of a house, piece of a bread, dress concealing his private parts and water, is excess and the son of Adam does not have the right to them". The Hadith has been mentioned with other words "the son of Adam does not have the right except to these things: a house to accommodate him, a dress to conceal his private parts as well as a piece of bread water". This Hadith was mentioned by Tirmidi and Hasan Al Basari it is correct. So it implies that what has been stated in both expressions of Hadith i.e. food, clothing and dwelling: "shade of a house" "a house to accommodate him" "a dress to conceal his private parts" "a piece of bread and water" are enough. In addition, his saying (saw) in the Hadith: "and what is in excess of that, the son of Adam does not have the right to them" denotes the utmost clarity that these three needs are the basic needs. So, both Ahadeeth clearly indicates that the basic needs are food, clothing and dwelling, and what is in excess of that is not considered the basic need and by satisfying them, the basic needs of individuals shall be satisfied.
Furthermore, the shara’ee evidences did not obligate to only satisfy the basic needs of individuals one by one, but they also obliged to fulfill the basic needs of Ummah by providing the security, medicine and education to the citizens:
As for the security, it is one of the main duties of the State. So, it has to provide the citizen the safety and security, to the extent that the State loses its existence if it cannot safeguard its security. Therefore it is a condition in Dar al-Islam that the Islamic State is capable of maintaining its security through its security forces. That is why the Messenger of Allah (saw), while informing them of their abode of immigration, he firstly mentioned the security. So, he (saw) said to his companions in Mecca, as narrated by Ibn Ishaq in his biography: "The Almighty Allah has made brothers for you and has set a house for you wherein you will be secure". Similarly, when Al Ansaar received the Messenger of Allah (saw) and Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), they said in their first conversation to them as reported by Ahmad on the strength of a correct Sanad of Malik "about five hundred Al Ansaar set out to receive them till they reached them. Then, Al Anssar said: "be at ease, safe and obeyed" So, the State's providing security to its citizens in one of its main duties.
As for the health and medication, they are also among the State's obligations to be provided to its citizens. Hence, the clinics and hospitals are utilities which the Muslims utilize for the purpose of seeking a cure and receiving medical treatment. So, the medicine turned to be one of the interests and utilities. And the State is obliged to fulfill the public welfare and utilities because their care is the responsibility of the State in accordance with the words of the Messenger of Allah (saw): "Imam is a guardian and responsible for his citizens". This Hadith is mentioned by Al Bukhari on the authority of Abdullah Bin Omar, and this is a general text on State's responsibility for health and medication and they are included in the necessary care and attention by the State.
There are evidences specific to the health and medication: Muslims stated on the authority of Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him), he said: "the Messenger of Allah (saw) sent a doctor to Ubayy ibn Ka'b, who cut off his sweat and then fastened it". Al Hakim mentioned in his Al Mustadrak on the authority of Zaid Bin Aslam quoting from his father who said: I was severely afflicted with disease in the time of 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, who called me a doctor, so he made me diet to the extent that I was sucking the seed due to the severity of the diet".
The Messenger of Allah (saw) as a ruler sent a doctor to Ubayy, and Omar the Second Rightly Guided Khalifah called for a doctor to Aslam to get him cured. Both are evidences that the health and medication are among the basic needs for the citizens, which must be provided by the State free of cost to those of the citizens who are in need of the same.
As for education, so it is because the Prophet (saw) made ransom of the prisoner from among the Kuffar to educate ten of Muslim children instead of redemption of the war-booty, which belongs to all Muslims; and also due to the consensus of the companions to give teachers a certain amount of income from Baitul Maal as a remuneration to them.
The State, therefore, must provide security, medicine and education to all citizens, and that Baitul Maal should guarantee them without any differentiation between Muslim and dhimmi, or between rich and poor...
Considering the basic needs of the individual and Ummah, the Messenger of Allah (saw) elaborated that the provision of these needs is like possession of the whole world as a clear indication to the importance of these needs. Tirmidi stated on the authority of Salamah ibn 'Ubayd Allah ibn Muhsin Al-Ansari, who quoted from his father, one of the companions of the Prophet (saw), he said: "whosoever among you woke up safe at his place, healthy in his body and had food of the day, so it is as if he has gained the world". Abu Issa said this is a Hasan and Gharib hadeeth. It was also narrated by Ibn Majah with Hasan Sanad, Abu Naim also narrated it in Al Hilya (the Ornament) on the authority of Abu Darda. However, he increased the word 'entirely' i.e. "… he has gained the whole world". (Reference concluded)
To sum up, the basic needs are of two types:
The basic needs for individuals and these are the food, clothing and dwelling. These have to be provided to each and every individual in accordance with the shara’ee rules: through his work, if he couldn't, then through his guardian/ breadwinner and if couldn't, then by the Islamic State.
The basic needs for Ummah and these are security, medication and education. These have to be provided to Ummah as a whole by the Islamic State. So, the public hospitals and adequate pharmacies and clinics have to be established and government doctors have to be provided to ensure the health for all. Same is the case with the security and education.
2- As for your mentioning of the shara’ee rule for medical treatment that it is recommended if the disease is not complicated while the treatment is an obligation if the disease is severe. It is not so. Rather, the shara'ee rule regarding the medical treatment is to get it cured, whether the disease is simple or severe as long as the disease has hit the human as predestination from Allah the Almighty. And there are evidences for that “a bedouin came and said: O Messenger of Allah, should we undergo medical treatment? He (saw) said: yes, Allah did not send down any disease but he also sent down its remedy, that is known by some people and unknown to others”. Ahmad reported it on the authority of Osama Ibn Shurayk. In the narration of Tabarani in Al Mujam Al Kabir on the authority of Osama Ibn Sharik, he said: we were with the Messenger of Allah (saw), some bedouins came and asked him, they said: O Messenger of Allah, should we undergo medical treatment? He (saw) said: yes, Allah the Almaighty did not send down any disease but he also sent down its remedy” and in al-Tirmidhi from Osama Ibn Shurayk with the word: “the bedouins said: O Messenger of Allah, should we not treat sickness? He (saw) said: yes, O slaves of Allah, treat sickness, for Allah did not send down any disease but also sent down its cure, except for one disease.” They said, “O Messenger of Allaah, what is it?” He said, “Old age”. This Hadith was classed as Sahih in Tirmidhi. The old age refers to the weakness and illness that come with old age followed by the death, for which there is no cure.
Similarly, it was narrated in Ahmad by Anas (ra) that, the Messenger of Allah said: “Allah has created both the disease and its cure, so treat the disease”. In these Ahadith, the Prophet (saw) has instructed to get yourself cured, sometimes by the clear instruction “get yourself cured”, and sometimes by answering the question in the affirmative when they asked “should we get ourselves cured? He said, yes”.
The instruction implies the general order and does not imply the obligation except if it a decisive instruction. The obligation needs evidence which indicates the same and in the above ahadith there is no evidence suggesting that it is an obligation.
In addition, there are ahadith which denotes abandoning of the treatment, thereby negating that these ahadith are obligatory, as reported by Muslim on the authority of Imran Ibn Hussain that the Prophet (saw) said: “Seventy thousand of my Ummah will enter Paradise without being brought to account; they are the ones who did not ask for ruqyah or believe in omens or use cautery and they put their trust in their Lord”.
Al Bukhari reported on the authority of Ibn Abbas, he said: "this black lady came to the Prophet and said, 'I get attacks of epilepsy and my body becomes uncovered; please invoke Allah for me.' The Prophet (saw) said (to her), 'If you wish, be patient and you will have (enter) Paradise; and if you wish, I will invoke Allah to cure you.' She said, 'I will remain patient,' and added, 'but I become uncovered, so please invoke Allah for me that I may not become uncovered.' So he invoked Allah for her”. So, these two ahadeeth indicate that it is permissible to leave Therapeutics . In the first hadith, the attibutes of those who will enter Jannah without reckoning is that they did not ask for ruqyah nor used cautery i.e. did not get themselves treated, but they left it to their Lord and put trust in him in all their affairs and ruqyah and cautery are types of medication. The Prophet (saw) urged to get treatment through ruqyah and Jibril (peace be upon him) treated the Prophet (saw) with ruqyah. Also he (saw) said: “Healing is in three things: in the incision of the cupper, in drinking honey and in cauterizing with fire, but I forbid my Ummah to use cauterization” narrated by Al Bukhari on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbaas that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). In the second hadith, the Prophet (saw) gave the woman choice between being patient with epilepsy and entering the paradise and between his invoking Allah to cure her from her epilepsy, which shows the permissibility of leaving the treatment. Thus, these two hadeeth dismiss any claim that the treatment mentioned those Ahadith indicates the obligation. As for the Prophet’s (saw) urging to get oneself cured, so the instruction given in those Ahadith for treatment, is regarded as recommendation. As for the Habit “there should be neither harm nor malice” reported by Ibn Majah, It is related to the person that caused damage to others or himself, and its rule has been stated in the principle of damage and is not related to the disease hitting human being as predestination from Allah the Almighty.
26nd Shawwal, 1432 AH
24th September, 2011 CE.