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Islam, Medical Ethics, and Spiritual Care

Claremont School of Theology / Bayan Claremont Summer 2019

Course Description:

Islamic bioethics, as an academic field of inquiry, is still under construction as its content, scope and research methods are the subject of scholarly debate. Ambiguities regarding the contours of an Islamic bioethics do not stem from the lack of a moral theology outlined by scripture, nor from a dearth of ethico-legal judgments pertaining to medicine and healthcare formulated by Islamic jurists. Rather the challenge is to devise a comprehensive bioethical theory, rooted in Islamic moral theology and attentive to those juridical ethico-legal assessments, that can serve healthcare stakeholders (patients, health professionals, religious leaders, and others).  

The epistemological and lexical challenges for an “Islamic” bioethics are arguably still more profound, because notions about moral norms, the good, and the ethical are scattered across different Islamic sciences including moral theology (uṣūl al-fiqh), scholastic theology (ʿilm al-kalām), jurisprudence and law (fiqh), as well as within various genres andpractices related to moral formation and spiritual development (taṣawwuf and adab).The “Islamic” character of Islamic bioethics is thus debated. The multidisciplinary nature of bioethical inquiry also leads to a crisis of epistemology and legitimacy. It is not clear how much weight should be accorded to the reality on the ground (what is) when considering the moral ordering of society (what should be), and it is not clear which register of bioethics (clinical, political, societal) proponents of Islamic bioethics seek to establish dialogue over.Consequently, this course is a mentored reading course that introduces learnersto critical concepts in Islamic theology and law that undergird normative ethical frameworks, while also exposing the student to exemplar works within the Islamic bioethics literature. The first part of the course will focus on the theoretical aspects of the Islamic moral and ethical tradition and cover scholarly contestations regarding Islamic moral theology as they relate to an Islamic bioethics. The latter half of course will focus on the practical aspects of the emerging field by considering research methods for the field, spiritual care provision and ethical boundaries,and reviews ofpressing Islamic bioethics topics.


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Islam, Medical Ethics, and Spiritual Care

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