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Muslim doctors in the mainstream

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The challenge of multiculturalism is for the community to recognise, appreciate and accommodate cultural differences

I anticipate that this article will be published halfway through the month of Ramadan.

My experience of the Muslim world was limited until about a decade ago, when, in the Spanish city of Córdoba, I stumbled upon a symposium about Maimonides, the medieval Sephardic Jewish scholar and doctor who had a profound influence on both Islamic and Christian thinking and philosophy. At the time, I had just wandered through the Great Mosque of Córdoba, now the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. Built in the 8th century, the mosque was taken over four centuries later by Christians, who then constructed the cathedral within it.

The fate of Jews, Muslims and Christians has long been intertwined, but often the interaction has been one of conflict rather than an expression of shared cultural values.

In his book What went wrong?, about the relative decline of Islam in the 20th century, especially in the Middle East, Bernard Lewis asks:

If Islam is an obstacle to freedom, to science, to economic development, how is it that Muslim society in the past was a pioneer in all three, and this when Muslims were much closer in time to the sources and inspiration of their faith than they are now?1