October 1, 2022

Progress for Muslim bioethics

Muslim bioethics has failed to keep abreast of rapid advances in medical science, writes Abdulaziz Sachedina, of George Mason University, in the blog Contending Modernities.

Muslim bioethics has failed to keep abreast of rapid advances in medical science, writes Abdulaziz Sachedina, of George Mason University, in the blog Contending Modernities.

“Islamic juridical sciences had developed a morally-sensitive methodology to derive fresh rulings in the area of medical practice. Principles like “No harm, no harassment” or “Aversion of corruption is more important than promotion of benefit” provided groundbreaking judicial decisions without any reference to moral justificatory reasoning. Muslim jurisprudence was, and remains, essentially religious-text based with the assumption that what God commands is good and permissible, and what God forbids is evil and must be avoided. Consequently, while other religion-based bioethics deliberations were in conversation with secular bioethics, Islamic responsa literature remained confined within the Shari’a-centered discourse. Until now, Muslim bioethics has essentially been based on legal decisions without any reference to ethics as understood in secular discourses of bioethics.”

However, in the past ten years, at least in Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Jordan, there have been moves to “rehabilitate” Islamic ethics so that it can engage with contemporary science. 

Michael Cook
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Islamic bioethics