Off the Shelf: Abdulaziz Sachedina

Abdulaziz Sachedina, Frances Myers Ball Professor of Religious Studies, "Islamic Biomedical Ethics Principles and Application." Oxford University Press.

June 3, 2009 — In this new work, Abdulaziz Sachedina – a scholar with lifelong academic training in Islamic law – relates classic Muslim religious values to the new ethical challenges that arise from medical research and practice.

He depends on Muslim legal theory, but then looks deeper than juridical practice to search for the underlying reasons that determine the rightness or wrongness of a particular action. Drawing on the work of diverse Muslim theologians, he outlines a form of moral reasoning that can derive and produce decisions that underscore the spirit of the Shari'a.

These decisions, he argues, still leave room to revisit earlier decisions and formulate new ones, which in turn need not be understood as absolute or final. After laying out this methodology, he applies it to a series of ethical questions surrounding the human life cycle from birth to death, including such issues as abortion, euthanasia and organ donation.

The implications of Sachedina's work are broad. His writing moves beyond the Islamic fatwa literature to search for a common language of moral justification and legitimization among the followers of the Jewish and Christian Abrahamic traditions. He argues that Islamic theological ethics be organically connected with the legal tradition of Islam to use it in considering secular and scripture-based bioethics in other faith communities.