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Muslim Bioethics

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A Beginner’s Guide to Muslim Bioethics

By Brandon Keim March 04, 2008 | 1:26:15 PMCategories: Bioethics, Biotechnology, Religion

When Sunni and Shiite scholars disagreed over the ethics of cloning animals, I wondered whether there were other bioethical conflicts in the Muslim world.

Are Muslims split over stem cell research and genetically engineered crops? Generally speaking, do they approach biotechnologies in the same way — or variety of ways — as Western cultures?

I posed the question to a handful of Muslim bioethicists. The first to respond was Brown University anthropologist Sherine Hamdy. Wrote Hamdy,

I think it would be easy and reductionist to make this into yet another ‘Shiite vs. Sunni’ issue, but there has always been a wide space of interpretation and widely debate even within the Sunni Muslim world about various biotechnologies including cloning. Most religious sources say that if a given technology, e.g. cloning is for beneficial purposes and the good outweighs the negative (if there is potential for human cures, etc.) then it is permissible, others have cautioned about the potential danger of creating a ‘super race’ of people, animals….so most of the disagreement is actually about the understanding of the technology itself and what impact it might have.

Would it be a bit too easy and reductionist, I asked, to then say that Muslims are less inclined to take an absolutist position and instead base their judgments by weighing the risks and benefits of each case?

You can read the entire article, and related articles, HERE

March 7, 2008 - Posted by | Cross Cultural, Experiment, News, Social Issues, Technical Issue


  1. what do you expect? try reading some philosophical debates in the early days of islam, you’ll be shocked!

    Comment by error | March 8, 2008 | Reply

  2. Error, all of that was a quote. I included the article because one of my messages in this blog, to all my readers,north south east and west, is that we are more alike than we are different, and we are struggling with a lot of the same issues. I am always glad to see your comments; you keep me on my toes.

    I would love to read some of those early philosophical debates! I imagine not too many of them have been translated into English, and my Arabic is mostly the greeting and how are you kind of Arabic.

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 8, 2008 | Reply

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