An Ocean of Oaths

A Comparison For Your Interest

Medical - Hippocratic Oath

This is the most famous oath for physicians. See the side-by-side comparison of this oath with our own, here.

Medical - Physician's Oath of Moses Maimonedes

The Jewish Physician's Prayer of Moses Maimonides asks God to grant strength of spirit, energy, and love to undertake the healing of God's creation with love. It asks for help against the fate of avarice blinding one's eyes to suffering. Here is the text of that prayer:

"God above, before I begin my holy work, healing Your creation, I lay my plea before You, that You will grant me the strength of spirit and the vast energy [alt: inspire me with love for my Art and for Thy creatures] to do my work with faith. Do not allow thirst for profit, ambition for admiration or the world's renown to blind my eyes from seeing one who is suffering, one who comes for my [professional] advice, as a human being, [whether] rich or poor, friend or foe, the good and the evil person, in his sorrowful moment reveal to me only the human being in him. My love for the learning of medicine should only strengthen my spirit, only the truth shall be the lamp unto my feet, for any weakness in my work might bring about death and ill unto Your creation. I pray to you, compasionate and gracious God, strengthen and focus my body and my soul and plant within me a spirit that is whole."

Medical - Physician's Prayer of the 18th Century

This 18th century physician's prayer, based on the Maimonedes prayer, touches on more modern concerns, even including absentmindedness, and directly addresses the hope that charlatans and cruel people not frustrate the physician's intent, and the prayer for calm in the face of disdainful and arrogant teachers. Some websites attribute authorship to Dr. Marcus Herz, whose patients included the composer Mendelssohn and whose teachers included Immanuel Kant:

"Almighty God! Thou has blest Thine earth, Thy rivers and Thy mountains with healing substances; they enable Thy creatures to alleviate their sufferings and to heal their illnesses. Thou hast endowed man with the wisdom to relieve the suffering of his brother, to recognize his disorders, to extract the healing substances, to discover their powers and to prepare and to apply them to suit every ill. In Thine Eternal Providence Thou hast chosen me to watch over the life and health of Thy creatures. I am now about to apply myself to the duties of my profession. Support me, Almighty God, in these great labors that they may benefit mankind, for without Thy help not even the least thing will succeed. Inspire me with love for my art and for Thy creatures. Do not allow thirst for profit, ambition for renown and admiration, to interfere with my profession, for these are the enemies of truth and of love for mankind and they can lead astray in the great task of attending to the welfare of Thy creatures. Preserve the strength of my body and of my soul that they ever be ready to cheerfully help and support rich and poor, good and bad, enemy as well as friend. In the sufferer let me see only the human being. Illumine my mind that it recognize what presents itself and that it may comprehend what is absent or hidden. Let it not fail to see what is visible, but do not permit it to arrogate to itself the power to see what cannot be seen, for delicate and indefinite are the bounds of the great art of caring for the lives and health of Thy creatures. Let me never be absent-minded. May no strange thoughts divert my attention at the bedside of the sick, or disturb my mind in its silent labors, for great and sacred are the thoughtful deliberations required to preserve the lives and health of Thy creatures. Grant that my patients have confidence in me and my art and follow my directions and my counsel. Remove from their midst all charlatans and the whole host of officious relatives and know-all nurses, cruel people who arrogantly frustrate the wisest purposes of our art and often lead Thy creatures to their death. Should those who are wiser than I wish to improve and instruct me, let my soul gratefully follow their guidance; for vast is the extent of our art. Should conceited fools, however, censure me, then let love for my profession steel me against them, so that I remain steadfast without regard for age, for reputation, or for honor, because surrender would bring to Thy creatures sickness and death. Imbue my soul with gentleness and calmness when older colleagues, proud of their age, wish to displace me, scorn me, or disdainfully teach me. May even this be of advantage to me, for they know many things of which I am ignorant, but let not their arrogance give me pain. For they are old and old age is not master of the passions. I also hope to attain old age upon this earth, before Thee, Almighty God! Let me be contented in everything except in the great science of my profession. Never allow the thought to arise in me that I have attained to sufficient knowledge, but vouchsafe to me the strength, the leisure and the ambition ever to extend my knowledge. For art is great, but the mind of man is ever expanding. Almighty God! Thou hast chosen me in Thy mercy to watch over the life and death of Thy creatures. I now apply myself to my profession. Support me in this great task so that it may benefit mankind, for without Thy help not even the least thing will succeed. [Translated by Harry Friedenwald. Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital 28 (1917): 260-261]

Medical - Muslim Physician's Pledge

The Muslim prayer emphasizes God as the only healer, sustainer, and submission to God, serving as God's instrument under God's will and mercy. It stresses service to one and all, to the rich and poor, friend and foe alike, protecting and honoring it regardless of race or religion or color, and the holding of all human life as precious and sacred at all times under all circumstances, doing utmost to alleviate pain and misery and to provide comfort and counsel in sickness and in anxiety. To respect the confidence and guard the secrets. To pursue knowledge and uphold honor and dignity. To acquire the courage to admit mistakes, mend ways, forgive wrongs:

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Sustainer of His Creation, the All-knowing. Glory be to Him, the Eternal, the All-Pervading. O Allah, Thou art the only Healer, I serve none but Thee, and, as the instrument of Thy Will, I commit myself to Thee. I render this Oath in Thy Holy Name and I undertake:
To be the instrument of Thy Will and Mercy, and, in all humbleness, to exercise justice, love and compassion for all Thy Creation;
To extend my hand of service to one and all, to the rich and to the poor, to friend and foe alike, regardless of race, religion or colour;
To hold human life as precious and sacred, and to protect and honour it at all times and under all circumstances in accordance with Thy Law;
To do my utmost to alleviate pain and misery, and to comfort and counsel human beings in sickness and in anxiety;
To respect the confidence and guard the secrets of all my patients;
To maintain the dignity of health care, and to honour the teachers, students, and members of my profession;
To strive in the pursuit of knowledge in Thy name for the benefit of mankind, and to uphold human honour and dignity;
To acquire the courage to admit my mistakes, mend my ways and to forgive the wrongs of others;
To be ever-conscious of my duty to Allah and His Messenger and to follow the precepts in private and in public.
O Allah grant me the strength, patience and dedication to adhere to this Oath at all times.

Medical - The Nightingale Pledge

The (Florence) Nightingale Pledge, for nurses, is based on the Hippocratic oath, with emphasis on uprightness and honor, justness, generosity, and confidentiality, but with deference to the physician (later changed, to the ‘team’)

Medical - Osteopaths

The Physician's Oath for Osteopaths is the one medical oath we have found that refers to the spiritual as well as the physical.

Links to Other Oaths

For Youth:

  • The Scouts' Promise and Law: girls and boys. This is a very widely known oath. Since 1908 it has included the idea of doing ones best both to ones country and to God as one defines it. The Promise accommodates pluralism by explaining “duty to God” as adhering to spiritual principles, loyalty to the religion that expresses them and acceptance of its resultant duties.

For Clergy and the Religious Community:

  • The Alliance of Baptists Covenant
  • The American Baptist Covenant and Code of Ethics
  • John Wesley (Founder - Methodists) noted three signs of holiness: doing no harm and avoiding evil; actively doing good; and attending on the ordinances of God. [Ref: Hearts on Fire! The United Methodist Story. 1998: 53].
  • The Ministers Council Covenant

For Public Servants:

Other Oaths:

  • The International Sociological Association Oath for Members
  • The Pledge of Nonviolence is offered by the Metta Center. All visitors who would wish to add their name may do so by simply typing in their full name and email address.
  • The It Gets Better Pledge, is open to all who wish to take a stand against hatred and bullying, and to provide hope to LGBT teens.

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