In the name of Allah, Most Kind, Most Merciful

“Our Position”

The position of Islamic Medical Association of North America On issues of Medical Ethics


IMANA Ethics Committee

Shahid Athar, MD, Chair
Wahaj D. Ahmed, MD
A.R.C. Amine, MD
Hossam E. Fadel, MD
Malika Haque, MD
Faroque A. Khan, MD
Hussain F. Nagamia, MD
Hasan Shanawani, MD
Hassan Hathout, MD, PhD (advisor)
Published by and copy right
Islamic Medical Association of North America
101 West 22nd Street, Suite 106
Lombard, IL 60146, USA
Web page:
Phone #:  (6… Fax#:  (6…
(Initial draft as of 11/1/04) (5th revision 4-14-05)

List of Content:

================ Introduction of IMANA
The need for Position Papers
What is Islamic Medical Ethics?
The topics of our position
A. The Care of Muslim patients
B. The definition of life and responsibility of Muslim physicians towards human life
C The definition of death

IMANA’s position on:

A Euthanasia, Mechanical life support, Living Will, case manager and Advance Directive.
B Transplantation and Organ donation
C. Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy
D. Contraception and Termination of Pregnancy (TOP)
E. The Genetic Research and Human Cloning.
F .The Care of HIV patients
G. Miscellaneous ethical issues.

< Frequently asked questions and answers on medical ethics References from Holy Quran

Recommended Resources
Websites for Islamic Medicine and Medical Ethics

Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA)

==================================================== In 1963, Muslim students studying in American colleges and universities organized themselves into an association (Muslim Students’ Association). Four years later, in 1967, American Muslim physicians did the same and formed IMANA. MSA transformed into the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and IMANA became a constituent body of ISNA. Since its inception in 1967, IMANA has dedicated itself to serving Muslim physicians, Muslim patients and the community at large on issues related to Islamic Medicine nationally and worldwide.

IMANA is also a member of the international Federation of Islamic Medical Associations (FIMA). Islamic Medicine is defined as the art and science of practice of medicine by Muslim physicians and other health care providers in the service of humanity under Islamic guidelines as ordained by the divine book Quran and taught by Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him).

IMANA has headquarters in a Chicago suburb and regional chapters in many cities of USA. It is governed by a Board of Regents and an executive committee according to established By-Laws. It has several operational committees including the medical ethics committee. For detailed information about IMANA, one can visit

Need for Position Papers on Islamic Medical Ethics

================================================== Muslim Physicians, Ethicists, Imams and scholars are asked questions by Muslim and non-Muslim patients, physicians and institutions as to what is Islam’s position or opinion on certain medical dilemmas affecting the care and outcome of patients’ illness and life . Some of these issues, such as termination of pregnancy, are time honored situations while many such as transplantation, assisted reproduction and euthanasia are products of advances in medical technology. Since these are new issues, Muslim physicians, have dire need for recommendations from the guiding principles of Quran, the tradition of Prophet Mohammad (p) (ref: Quran 33:36) and opinions of past and contemporary Muslim scholars.

Thus, IMANA decided to make position papers which will be available to those who seek our position in order to pursue further reading on their own. The position papers are only suggestions on behalf of IMANA and not to be considered Fatwa(s) (religious decree) which has a legal binding. The members of ethics committee are not in a position to issue a Fatwa on any of the issues which we are writing on behalf of IMANA. However, from time to time, on need basis, we do consult Muslim scholars for their opinion.

The Position Papers will be revised from time to time as new questions arise from advances in medical technology. The Position Papers are available to be read and downloaded from internet at at no cost.

Islamic Medical Ethics

====================== Islam considers access to health care a fundamental right of the individual. In medicine, there are sometimes difficult decision making situations for choosing better options for the patient’s care. Thus, a physician at times has to decide for his /her patient in light of available knowledge, his/her experience, his/her peers and consensus of the community. In addition, a Muslim physician derives his /her conclusion from rules of Islamic laws (Shariah) and Islamic medical ethics.

The two main principles of Islamic Medicine are: 1) emphasis on the sanctity of human life which derives from Quran 5:32 “whosoever saves a human life, saves the life of the whole mankind”, 2) emphasis on seeking a cure which derives from a saying of Prophet Mohammad (p), “seek cure as God has created no disease without creating a cure for it except for old age”. This is further emphasized by the fact that three of the “Goals of the Islamic Shariah” are the protection & preservation of life, intellect,& progeny .The other two being the protection of private ownership & the freedom of religion.

Some of the rules of Islamic medical ethics are
1) Necessity overrides prohibition that is if there are certain items which are islamically prohibited, under dire necessity they can become permissible.
2) Harm has to be removed at every cost if possible.
3) Accept the lesser of the two harms if both can not be avoided.
4) Public interest overrides the individual interest.

Islamic Medical Ethics also upholds the four basic principles of biomedical ethics. These are

1) Respect for the autonomy of the patient,
2) Beneficence,
3) Nonmaleficence, and
4) Distributive Justice.

Thus, a Muslim physician has to make a decision not only based on his/her own knowledge and experience, but as a Muslim in light of his /her Islamic teachings, in the best interest of his /her patient, whether Muslim or non Muslim .

4a: IMANA’s Position on the Care of Muslim Patients (2)

====================================================== IMANA has published a brochure entitled “Guidelines for Healthcare Providers in Caring for Muslim Patients”. (2). Those who wish to obtain a copy can call IMANA at  (6…. It is also available on line at .

All patients irrespective of their faith should be treated with human dignity and respect. Muslim physicians are advised to treat all patients with loving care as if they are members of their own family. We suggest to all health care providers that they familiarize themselves with the basic teachings of Islam and Islamic moral values. It is easier for a healthcare provider to deal with the patient if he /she understands the faith, values and culture of his/her patient. These are some of the specific guidelines for healthcare providers especially of other faith traditions for caring for their Muslim patients.

1. Muslim patients should be identified if possible as Muslim (or with the religion Islam) in the registration information so as to prevent any mistakes happening unintentionally in terms of violating dietary rules or privacy.

2. Their care providers should respect their modesty and privacy. Muslim patients, particularly women may need a special gown to cover the whole body in order to avoid unnecessary exposure during physical examination. Some examinations may be done over the gown.

3. Provide Muslim patient Islamically slaughtered (Dhabiha) meat. Muslim patients should not be served any pork, pork products or alcohol in their meals. A Muslim patient’s family may be allowed to bring food from home, as long as it is meeting the patient’s dietary restrictions.

4.Make it easy for Muslim patients to perform Islamic prayers if they can…

5. Inform them of their rights as a patient and encourage an Islamic living will. (a sample of a living will is enclosed).

6. Take time to explain test procedures and treatment. Some of the more recently immigrated Muslims may have a language problem. Muslim women, can give consent for any treatment or procedure.

7. Allow their Imam (religious teacher) to visit them and pray for them. Priests of other faith traditions can pray for or with Muslim patients with their permission, using non denomination words like God.

8. Autopsy is permitted if medically indicated or required by law.

9. Organ donation is permitted with some guidelines and is encouraged.

10. Always examine a female patient in the presence of another female (chaperon) or a female relative (except in medical emergencies). Especially for labor and delivery ,if the patient’s obstetrician is unavailable & upon her request ,provide the same sex healthcare provider, if feasible. Her husband is encouraged to be present during the delivery.

After death of a Muslim patient in a health care facility, allow the family and Imam to arrange for preparing the dead body for burial under Islamic guidelines. A corpse should be given the same respect and privacy as he/she was receiving while alive. Muslim relatives and friends of the dead are encouraged to stay in the room where the dead body is kept to recite Quran. Muslim corpses are not embalmed.

4b: Definition of Life and the Responsibility of Muslim Physicians towards Human Life {34)

========================================================================================= Muslims believe that God is the Creator of life and life is a gift from Him (Quran: 36:77-78). Muslims believe that all life is sacred and must be protected. The respect for life in Islam is common for all humans, irrespective of gender, age, race, color, faith, ethnic origin, financial status or productive stage of life.

IMANA holds the position that biological life begins at conception while human life begins when ensoulment takes place (Quran 23:12-14). Ensoulment is believed to occur at 40 or 120 days after fertilization, according to different schools of thought. [ Also see section 4g]. The right of the fetus in Islam is similar to the rights of a mature human being, including the right to life, the right to inheritance, the right of compensation when injured by willful acts and the right to penalize assailants.

The position paper extends the principles of medical ethics to the patient in a vegetative state. Until the death has been declared, the patient in a vegetative state is considered a living person and has all the rights of a living person.

4c: Definition of Death (24, 26, 33)

=================================== IMANA has published a position paper on death in the Journal of Islamic Medical Association. (J.Islam.Med.Assn 1997;29:99) Permanent cessation of cardiopulmonary function, when diagnosed by a physician, is considered death. The concept of brain death is necessitated when artificial means to maintain cardiopulmonary function are employed. In those situations, cortical and brain stem death, as established by a specialist using appropriate investigations can be used. It should be the physician who should be responsible for making the diagnosis of death. Thus a person is considered dead when the conditions given below are met.

1. The physician has determined that after a standard examination, a person’s cardiopulmonary function has come to a permanent stop
2. A specialist physician has determined that after standard examination, the function of the brain, including the brain stem, has come to a permanent stop, even if some other organs may continue to show spontaneous activity. 4d: IMANA’s Position on Mechanical Life Support in Terminally Ill Patients or Those in Persistent Vegetative State and on Euthanasia (8, 9, 11, 21, 27)
Please refer also to the following verses in the holy Quran on the issue of life and death. (Abdullah Yusuf Ali Translation)

1) 40:68 “It is He who gives life and death and when He decides upon an affair, He says to it: Be and it is”.
2) 3:145 “No soul can die except by God’s permission, the term being fixed by writing—–”
3) 39:42″ It is God who takes the soul of (men and women) at death, and those who die not during their sleep .Those on whom , He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back ( from returning to life), but rest , He sends to their bodies. Verily in these are signs for those who reflect.
4) 29:57″Every soul will have a taste of death. In the end, to Us, shall you brought back.
5) 10:56 “it is He who gives life and Who takes it away and to Him shall you be brought back”.
6) 17:33 “Nor take life which God has made sacred-except for a just cause- ”
IMANA does not believe in prolonging the misery of dying patients who are terminally ill or in a persistent vegetative state. This is defined as a subacute or chronic condition which usually follows severe brain injury and is characterized by normal sleep/wake pattern and total lack of cognitive function with preserved blood pressure, respiratory control that persists for more than two months.

When death becomes inevitable, as determined by a team of physicians including critical care physicians, the patient should be allowed to die without unnecessary procedures. While all ongoing medical treatments can be continued, no further or new attempts should be made to sustain artificial life support. If the patient is on mechanical support, this can be withdrawn.

The patient should be treated with full respect, comfort measures and pain control. No attempt should be made to withhold nutrition and hydration. In such cases, if and when the feeding tube has been withdrawn it may not be reinserted. The patient should be allowed to die peacefully and comfortably. However, no attempt should be made to enhance the dying process in patients on life support.

IMANA is absolutely opposed to Euthanasia and assisted suicide in terminally ill patients by healthcare providers or by patient’s relatives. Suicide and Euthanasia are prohibited in Islam (Quran17:33).

IMANA recommends that all Muslims have a “living will”, “advance directive” and a case manger for their care, to help physicians to know their wishes, when he or she is unable to give directions (i.e. in a coma). A sample of such proposed living will is provided here which can be modified by the patient after consulting with family and attorney. (Ref: J.Islam.Med.Assn.1997; 29:99).

Islamic Living Will and Advance Directive (a sample)

Declaration made this ________day of ______, 20__. I , a Muslim of sound mind , willfully and voluntarily make known my desires that my dying shall not be artificially prolonged under the circumstances set forth below and I declare: If at any time I have an incurable injury, disease or illness certified in writing to be a terminal condition by my attending physician(s), and my attending physician has determined that the use of life-prolonging procedures would serve only to artificially prolong the dying process, I direct that such procedures be withheld or withdrawn, and that I be permitted to die naturally with only the provision of appropriate nutrition and hydration and the administration of essential medications and the performances of any medical procedures necessary( as determined by my physician) to provide me with comfort or to alleviate pain.

In the absence of my ability to give direction regarding the use of life-prolonging procedures, it is my intention that this declaration be honored by my family and physician as the final expression of my legal right to refuse medical or surgical treatment and I accept the consequences of the refusal.

____________ is my case manager to enforce my living will, if I am not physically able to give direction. I do not permit autopsy of my body unless my death occurred in a suspicious manner and it is important to know the cause of death or if it is required by the court of law. It is my desire that Muslims attending my dying process ensure that Islamic Shariah is practiced during preparation of my body for burial. My body be treated with grace and privacy and buried with Islamic guidelines under the directions of my Muslim family, Imam or other qualified Muslims as soon as it is feasible.

Signed————————————— Date—————Place————-

—============================================================- The declaring person has been personally known to me and I believe (him/her) to be of sound mind. I did not sign the declaring person’s signature above for or at the direction of the declaring person. I am not a parent, spouse, or child of the declaring person . I am not entitled to any part of the declaring person’s estate or directly financially responsible for his/her medical care. I am competent and at least eighteen (18) years of age.

Witness (to the document) _________________________ Date________________

Witness (second) _______________________________ Date________________

4e: IMANA’s Position on Organ Donation and Transplantation (1)

We, at IMANA, understand that certain organs may fail in the human body while the rest of the body may still be functional. The current state of medical knowledge holds the view with scientific proof that if the diseased organs are replaced by healthy organs and if accepted, the body machine can continue to function rather than die because of one diseased organ. Islam instructs all Muslims to save life (Quran 5:32).

Thus, on this basis, transplantation in general, both giving and receiving organs, is allowed for the purpose of saving life. This has to be done under the following guidelines:

” The medical need has to be defined.
” The possible benefit to the patient has to be defined.
” Consent from the donor as well as recipient must be obtained.
” There should be no sale of organs by any party.
” No financial incentive to the donor or his relatives for giving his organs.(A voluntary gift may be permitted)
” There should be no cost to the family of the donor for removing the organ.
” Any permanent harm to the donor must be avoided.
” May not transplant sex organs (testicles, ovaries or) which would violate the sanctity of marriage.
” Cadaver donation is permitted but only if specifically mentioned in that person’s will or in driving license.
” Blood Transfusion is permissible. Giving to or receiving blood from people of other faiths is permissible.

4f: IMANA’s Position on Assisted Reproductive Technologies (22, 23, 30)

We believe infertility is a disease and desire for a cure by an infertile couple is natural. However, in Islam, for an action to be permissible all means of achieving that action are also to be pure. IMANA holds the position that all forms of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) are permissible between husband and wife during the span of their marriage using the husband’s sperm and the wife’s ovaries and uterus. No third party involvement is allowed. We believe in the sanctity of marriage (Quran: 16:72) and that the death of one of the spouses terminates the marriage contract on earth, thus frozen sperm from husband can not be used. Sperm, ova and embryo donation are not permitted. Additional embryos produced by IVF between husband and wife can be discarded or given for genetic research, if not to be used by the same couple for a future attempt.

Surrogacy involving a third person is not permissible, as we believe that it exceeds the boundaries of the marriage contract and lineage (Quran 58:2, 25:54). Use of fertility drugs is permissible.

An infertile couple, if they can not find a permissible cure, can care for another child or someone else’s child as their own within the Islamic guidelines of adoption, not the legal adoption as practiced in the United States.

4g: IMANA’s Position on Contraception and Abortion (Termination of Pregnancy) (7)

I. Contraception

Islam prohibits sex and conception out of wedlock. For married couples, contraception for several reasons, including health of the mother, social or economic reasons etc, is permitted, provided that it is practiced by mutual agreement of the husband and wife. Contraceptive methods which can lead to abortion are not allowed.

II. Termination of Pregnancy

Abortion is the willful termination of pregnancy by artificial means: drugs, chemicals, mechanical or surgical procedures before the age of viability (23 weeks) for any reason. Chemical or mechanical means to prevent the formation of zygote (fertilized ovum, which marks the beginning of human life) is not considered abortion.

We believe that life begins at conception and unless interrupted by disease or artificial means, the fertilized ovum will continue to grow and become a viable mature human being. However, some scholars differentiate between biological life which starts at conception from human life which starts after ensoulment (Hadith Ibn Mas`uud). Further, the time of ensoulment according to this hadith is considered to be at 40 days after fertilization by some while others consider to it to be at 120 days after fertilization.

IMANA’s position on abortion can be classified as follows:

” Elective abortion of a viable fetus in a healthy mother is prohibited.
” Abortion is permitted if continuation of pregnancy may cause the pregnant woman to die or cause serious deterioration of her health, both medical and mental, if done before 120 days (19 weeks) of gestation
” Fetal congenital malformations in which abortion can be sought and is permitted are lethal malformations not compatible with extra uterine life such as bilateral renal aplasia, Trisomy 13, 18, etc. But even in these situations it is preferable to do it before the 120th day of conception (19 weeks gestation).
” In non-lethal malformations such as severe hydrocephaly, cervical meningomyelocele, Down’s syndrome and unbalanced translocations, abortion may be permissible before the 120th day of conception after consulting Islamic scholars and medical experts in the field.
” Pregnancy occurring because of rape, war crimes and incest may be a cause to seek abortion.

In all cases in which abortion is sought, the recommendation should be made by a team of Islamic scholars and medical experts in the field.

Prohibition of infanticide is mentioned in following verses in Quran 17:31, 6:151 and 60:12.

4h: IMANA’s Position on Genetic Engineering and Human Cloning (16, 18, 29, 31))

================================================================================= Genetic research and engineering to alter or delete diseased genes is allowed and genetic research using stem cells from products of miscarriages or surplus ova after IVF procedures is permissible. However, to conceive in order to abort the fetus and harvest and use its stem cells is not permissible. We believe that each individual is born with unique qualities and genetic makeup .

Islamically, a child should be born out of marriage between husband and wife and the lineage of the child should be maintained. (Quran 25:54). Therefore, human reproductive cloning is not permitted in Islam… Therapeutic cloning may be permissible within strict guidelines.

4i: IMANA’s Position on the Care of HIV Patients (20)

==================================== HIV infection, in addition to being associated with Homosexuality is also known to be acquired through heterosexual acts, as well as I.V. drug use, blood transfusion and child birth. While Islam is opposed to homosexual life style, promiscuity, and drug abuse, IMANA is not opposed to the care of HIV patients. In fact, it instructs Muslim physicians to care for HIV patients with the same degree of compassion as they would for other patients. We do not discriminate against any patient on the basis of their lifestyle. We do advise healthcare providers to take precautions for themselves while taking care of HIV patients.

4j: Miscellaneous Issues

======================== a. Birth control methods between husband and wife: IMANA approves of all methods of contraception between husband and wife which are not harmful, are reversible and are not abortificient. Prophylactics, withdrawal methods or oral contraceptives are allowed. However permanent measures such as tubal ligation , vasectomy, morning after pill and certain forms of IUD are not permissible.

b. .Examination of opposite sex: This is allowed in the presence of a third person of the same sex as the patient. In case of a minor, one of the parent’s presence is desirable. Only necessary examination needs to be done. Pelvic examination must be done using gloves. IMANA encourages but does not mandate same sex health care provider. Medical or nursing students may be allowed during examination of a female patient, but only with her prior consent and in the presence of a female nurse or relative.

Drug Research: Biomedical research involving double blind trials, controls and the use of placebos in drug research is allowed, but the patient must be informed and consent must be taken. Worsening of the disease while in drug research, either due to placebo or an ineffective dosage of the drug must be carefully monitored and the trial should be ended for the safety of the patient.

5: Frequently asked Medical Ethics Questions (Answers provided by Hassan Hathout, MD, PhD)

========================================================================================== Q1. Can Muslim patients take medicines which may contain alcohol or pig by- products?

A. No, Muslims should not take these medicines unless they are life saving drugs and no substitute is available. (One school believes that when pork has changed chemically, it is not haram or najs- illegal and impure).

Q2. I am 3 months pregnant and doing fine. Can I fast during Ramadan?

A. It is preferable that you utilize God’s granted exemption and do not fast. Your baby is dependent on you for his or her nutrition and hydration. Why do you want him or her to fast with you?

Q3. Is use of placebos in clinical trial endorsed by Muslim Ethicists?

A. Yes, but make sure that the protocol is fully explained to the patient and by delaying the treatment, no worsening of his medical condition takes place nor his life is endangered.

Q4. While fasting can a Muslim patient have a blood test (venous draw) or check his glucose with a finger stick?

A. Yes, if it is a medical necessity.

Q5. While fasting can a Muslim patient take tablets, injections, inhalers or patches?

A. The general rules are:
(1) Sick patients are exempt from fasting.
(2) Any medicine of nutritional value or taken with water will break the fast.
(3) Patches and inhalers can be used.

Q5. on Separation of conjoined twins, one dependent on the other, which one to save?

A. It is a difficult situation. The emphasis should be to save both lives and one cannot be sacrificed over the other. However, if one has to do so, the twin who cannot function on its own and acts as a vestigial organ of the other, may have to be sacrificed during the process of separation.

Q6. Should a female patient only seek a female Gynecologist?

A. If available, same sex health care providers are encouraged but, if not available and in life saving situations, “necessity overrides the prohibition” – a rule of Islamic Sariah.

Q7. Can a female Physician do genital/rectal examination of male patients?

A. Yes, but in the presence of a male nurse or male relative of the patient. The answer to the previous question also applies here.

Q8. Should Muslim Physicians care for AIDS patients? Is this endorsing homosexuality?

A. We do not discriminate other patients because of their lifestyle (smokers, alcoholics, over eaters etc) nor should we do so for AIDS patients. We should care for them as we care for any patient, taking all the necessary precautions to protect ourselves. By the way, not all AIDS cases are due to homosexuality.

Q9. Should Muslim OB/GYN Physicians perform abortion, vasectomy or tubal ligation?

A. Such procedures are prohibited in Islam except to save the life of the mother. Muslim Physicians also may not perform them (even on patients of other faith) unless medical necessity.

Q10. We are getting married and can not afford to have children, as both of us are still students. What contraception measures are allowed?

A. All contraception measures between married couples for a valid reason and with consent of both are permitted if they are not irreversible (sterilization/tubal ligation), abortifacient (RU 486, IUD) or may be harmful (oral contraceptives). That leaves only abstinence, condoms and the withdrawal method.

Q11. My wife can not conceive. Can she use her ovum and my sperm to be fertilized in her sister’s uterus?

A. No. Surrogacy is not permitted in Islam. (some jurist disagree with this opinion)

Q11. We got married 3 months ago. My husband is in a coma after an auto accident and is expected to die soon. I love him very much. Can I save his sperm to have his baby after his death?

A. No. After his death, his sperm can not be used. All methods of assisted reproduction are allowed between husband and wife only during the intact span of marriage.

Q12. I am pregnant and expecting delivery soon. Should I request my husband be present but no other male attendant during labor?

A. Yes. You can make such a request.

Q13. My friend is in the hospital. He is to have a major operation and will require blood. Is blood transfusion allowed and should we select the donor?

A. Yes. Blood transfusion is allowed. Blood is routinely screened for HIV and other diseases. It would be nice if you could find a relative of your friend to match and donate his or her blood.

Q14. At what stage of pregnancy does the termination become abortion, after 120 days or before?

A. According to Imam Ghazali School of thought, life begins at conception, but other Islamic Jurists may have different opinions and allow termination of pregnancy before 120 days for a valid reason.

Q15. Is post-mortem (autopsy) of a dead body allowed?

A. Yes, but only as a medico- legal necessity to ascertain the cause of death.

Q16. What should be done to the products of miscarriage? Should they be destroyed or buried?

A. Preferably they should be handled with the same respect as another death and be buried if possible. (there is no need for funeral prayer).

Q17. After a massive brain hemorrhage, my mother is in a coma and is on artificial life support. Her physician says there is no hope of her surviving and wants to pull the plug. We love her very much. What should we do?

A. Islam does not encourage prolonging misery in a vegetative state and patients should be allowed to die naturally when nothing more can be done. You should agree with the medical decision, maybe seek second opinion, but insist that hydration and nutrition be maintained until death.

Q18. Question from a medical student: “As a Physician, when I find out that my patient has a terminal illness and will die very soon, should I tell the truth to my patient and his family as soon as I know it myself?

A. You should always tell the truth but do not be dogmatic about it. You can explain the diagnosis and natural history of the disease process but do not give a time limit as you do not know for sure when the patient will die.


Q19. My grandfather never took care of his diabetes. Now he has developed gangrene in his foot. Doctors recommend amputation to save the rest of his leg. He refuses. What should we do?

A. You should talk to him again and again that God entrusted him with care of his body and if he does not do what doctors recommend, his condition may worsen and he will be questioned about it on the Day of Judgment in addition to having additional suffering in this life.

Q20. My sister, who is pregnant, found out the baby has the congenital defect, Down’s syndrome. Should she abort the fetus or carry it to term and spend her life caring for a disabled child?


A. Carry to term. There is extra reward in going through this test from God in caring for such a child.

Q21. For a patient who has cancer with bone metastasis and is in constant pain, is it better that he takes strong pain killers all the time or be in pain and remember God?

A. He should take pain killers as God does not want him to suffer. In severe pain he may not have the strength to remember God.

Q22. I am on a heart transplant waiting list. Should I accept a heart from a criminal or an atheist?

A. Yes, and pray that God changes your new heart to adopt it to your pious body.

Q23. Should the pregnancy resulting from rape be continued to term or aborted?

A. Carried to term unless the life of the mother is in danger. Why commit another crime?

Q24. Is patient’s autonomy (i.e. right to not seek treatment) equal to planned suicide? If so, should it be allowed?

A. Patient’s autonomy involves a sound mind while suicide decision is made in severe depression. One can refuse treatment because of side effects, but to kill yourself is against the will of God.

Q25. I am a Muslim female medical student who does hijab (head cover). How can I scrub before surgery without removing my head cover and pulling up sleeves?

A. You should do Masah (wadu) over the head cover, or remove in the presence of a female co-worker only.

Q26. Is gene therapy and genetic manipulation to cure diseases allowed? Can we use embryonic stem cells for this?

A. To seek cure for a disease is mandatory. Thus, gene therapy is allowed and stem cells from spontaneously miscarried embryos can be used. However, it is wrong to conceive or create an embryo just to harvest cells and then destroy it.

Q27: If God is the Healer, then why should I take medication?

A: It is not the Will of God that you suffer. You should take the medicine then pray to the Healer that it works and He heals you through that medicine. When Prophet Muhammad got ill, he took medicine and has advised us the same.

References from The Holy Quran (A. Yusuf Ali Translation; Amana Corp)

” 5:32 “On that account, We ordained for the children of Israel that if anyone, slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land, it would be as if he slew the whole people; and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them our messengers with Clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.”
” 33:36 “It is not fitting for a believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah, and His messenger, to have any option about their decision. If any one disobeys Allah and His messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong path.”
” 17:33 “Nor take life – which Allah has made sacred – except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, we have given his heir authority (to demand Qisas or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life; for he is helped (by the law).”
” 58:2 “If any men among you divorce their wives by Zihar (calling them mothers), they cannot be their mothers. None can be their mothers except those who gave them birth. And in fact they use words (both) iniquitous and false, but truly Allah is One that blots out (sins), and forgives (again and again).”
” 25:54 “It is He who has created man from water. Then haws He established relationships of lineage and marriage, for your Lord has power (over all things).”
” 42:49-50 “To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills (and plans). He bestows (children) male or female according to His will (and plan), or He bestows both males and females, and He leaves barren whom He will, for He is full of knowledge and power.”
” 17:31 “Do not kill your children for fear of want” We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you. Verily the killing of them is a great sin.”
” 60:12 “O Prophet! When believing women come to you to take the oath of fealty to you, that they will not associate in worship any other thing whatever with Allah; that they will not steal; that they will not commit adultery ( or fornication); that they will not kill their children ; that they will not utter slander, intentionally forging falsehood; and that they will not disobey you in any just matter. Then receive their fealty, and pray to Allah for the forgiveness (of their sins), for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

Recommended Resources

======================= ” FIMA Year Book 2002- Published by Federation of Islamic Medical Associations
” The Guidelines for Health Care Providers When Dealing with Muslim Patients, JIMA, 1998, vol: 30, 44-45.
” International Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research involving Human Subjects( An Islamic Perspective)- prepared by Islamic organization for Medical Sciences-2004
” Islamic Law Ruling on Certain Medical Questions- The Argument and Supporting Evidence. Osama Muhammad Al-Abd, Ph.D.
” Shahid Athar- Islamic Perspectives in Medical Ethics- from ” Islamic Perspective in Medicine” (ATP 1993)
” Abdul Fadl Mohsin Ebrahim- Biomedical Issues- an Islamic Perspective (Islamic Medical Association of South America)
” Abdul Fadl Mohsin Ebrahim – Abortion, Birth Control and Surrogate Parenting – (ATP 1989)
” Shahid Athar- “Ethical Decision Making in Patient Care” in “Health Concerns for Believers” (KAZI 1995)
” Faroque A. Khan “Religious Teachings and Reflections in Advance Directive- Religious Values and Legal Dilemmas in Bioethics: An Islamic Perspective – Fordham Urban Law Journal- November 2002.
” Fazlur Rahman “Health and Medicine in Islamic Tradition” (Crossroad Publication – 1987)
” Abul Fadl Mohsim Ebrahim “ICU Ethical Dilemmas” The Islamic Medical Association of South Africa- 2004
” Hassan Hathout- chapter on Medical Ethics in “Reading the Muslim Mind” (ATP 1995)
” Code of Medical Ethics- AMA 2000-2001
” Jonsen, Siegler and Winslade- “Clinical Ethics” McGraw Hill 1992
” Islamic Code of Medical Ethics – Kuwait Document -published by International Organization of Islamic Medicine -1982, revised 2004.
” Dr. Muzzamil Siddiqi and Imran Siddiqi PhD. “An Islamic Perspective on Stem Cell Research”- published in Pakistan Link 2001.
” Wahaj Ahmed in “Islamic Ethics in Medicine”- Book in print.
” A.F. El-Hazmi MD. in “Ethics of genetic counseling “Annals of Saudi Medicine, vol.24, 2, March- April 2004.
” Kamyar M. Hedayat .MD and Raya Pirzadeh “Issues in Islamic Biomedical Ethics: a Primer for the Pediatrician” – Pediatrics vol. 108 No.4, October 2001.
” Peter B. Gray “HIV and Islam”. Social Science &Medicine 58(2004) 1751-1756.
” Care at the End of life and Euthanasia, Medical Ethics Committee IMANA. JIMA 1997; 29:100-101.
” Hathout , M: Surrogacy , An Islamic Perspective; JIMA 1989,21:157-60
” Fadel, HE “The Islamic Viewpoint on new Assisted Reproductive Technologies”- Fordham Urban Law Journal 2002: xxx (1) 147-157.
” Death: Medical Ethics Committee, IMANA, JIMA 1997, 29:99.
” Athar, S.”Contemporary issues in the practice of Internal Medicine”. JIMA 1996:28, 1995-7.
” Ahmed, WD “An Islamic view of Death and Dying”. JIMA 1996; 28:175-7.
” Islam and Euthanasia -Guest Editorial: JIMA 1994; 26:152-4.
” Ahmed, WD “Ethics Committee Commentary on Gene Therapy” JIMA; 1993 .25: 25-8
” Ahmed , AJ :Gene Therapy -Promises and Issues ; JIMA 1993, 25 :25-9
” Fadel , HE “Assisted Reproductive Technology ;An Islamic Perspective JIMA 1993 ;25, 14-9
” Fadel, HE, “Cloning – The role of Muslim scientists and scholars”, Editorial JIMA 1997; 29:51-3.
” Fadel, He “Antenatal diagnosis of fetal malformations: achievements, pitfalls, and diagnostic dilemmas” JIMA 1998; 30, 99-101.
” Yaseen,MN: ” The End of Human Life in the Light of The opinion of Muslim Scholars and Science JIMA 1991;23:74-81
” Yaseen, MN. “The Inception of Human Life in the Light of the statement from the Holy Quran and Sunnah and the opinion of Muslim Scholars” JIMA, 1990; 22:159-67.

Some web sites on Islam, Islamic Medicine and Medical Ethics

” www.islam-usa.comn

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