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J Med Ethics 15:203-208 doi:10.1136/jme.15.4.203
  • Research Article

Islamic medical ethics in the 20th century.

  1. V Rispler-Chaim
  1. Department of Arabic, University of Haifa.

      Abstract

      While the practice of Western medicine is known today to doctors of all ethnic and religious groups, its standards are subject to the availability of resources. The medical ethics guiding each doctor is influenced by his/her religious or cultural background or affiliation, and that is where diversity exists. Much has been written about Jewish and Christian medical ethics. Islamic medical ethics has never been discussed as an independent field of ethics, although several selected topics, especially those concerning sexuality, birth control and abortions, have been more discussed than others. Islamic medical ethics in the 20th century will be characterised on the basis of Egyptian fatawa (legal opinions) issued by famous Muslim scholars and several doctors. Some of the issues discussed by Islamic medical ethics are universal: abortions, organ transplants, artificial insemination, cosmetic surgery, doctor-patient relations, etc. Other issues are typically Islamic, such as impediments to fasting in Ramadan, diseases and physical conditions that cause infringement of the state of purity, medicines containing alcohol, etc. Muslims' attitudes to both types of ethical issues often prove that pragmatism prevails and the aim is to seek a compromise between Islamic heritage and the achievements of modern medicine, as long as basic Islamic dogma is not violated.