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Biomedical Scientists as Co-Muftis: Their Contribution to Contemporary Islamic Bioethics

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By the beginning of the 1980s, deliberations on Islam and biomedical ethics started to assume a systematised and collective form through combining contributions from Muslim religious scholars and (Muslim) biomedical scientists. The original idea was that biomedical scientists would inform and educate Muslim religious scholars about the scientific and biomedical aspects of specific bioethical issues. After being equipped with sufficient information about these technical aspects, religious scholars would embark upon their normative role by construing the religio-ethical Islamic standpoint. This proposed strict division between the tasks of biomedical scientists and those of religious scholars did not prove to be viable during the gatherings which hosted both groups. Instead of confining themselves to the informative role, biomedical scientists infringed upon the normative role which is typically assigned to Muslim religious scholars alone. Besides presenting technical information, they also presented their own perspectives on how Islamic scriptures should be employed in order to develop the Islamic religio-ethical standpoints. This article explains how biomedical scientists moved from being just “informants” for the religious scholars to becoming eventually “co-muftis”.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Islam and Biomedical Ethics, Center for Islamic Legislation & Ethics (CILE), Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies (QFIS), Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), Qatar


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