Challenges of Developing a Fatwa-Making Methodology for Medical Issues (An international symposium)

3 December 2019

In the wake of rapidly growing advances in medical biotechnologies, we are increasingly become more concerned that some of these advancements may dramatically change our social life. We are aware of the potential of this change to undermine our current moral laws. We also foresee that some of these developments will go completely against human nature/fitrah. It is obvious that some seek to construct a different type of human being in the near future. The concept of 'construction' is especially prevalent in gender studies, and in controversies that go parallel with sexual medicine. All these contentions necessitate the carrying out of moral discussions of modern medical issues based on solid philosophical and theological/kalāmī foundations. However, the staggering pace of developments requires the production of quick answers.

It seems that it is almost impossible to address complex medical issues from conventional perspectives due to their complex technical makeup, as well as their embeddedness with philosophical questions.

Technology develops rapidly. Law and Islamic law, on the other hand, are struggling to keep pace with the speed of technological advancement due to their shared cautious nature. However, sometimes controversial practices need to be urgently stopped. Ethics can discuss these interventions, but it does not always have the power to stop controversial advancements alone. Religion remains one of the most powerful mechanism capable of stopping these controversial practices is religion.

At our first meeting titled "Challenges of Developing a Fatwa-Making Methodology for Medical Issues", held on 06.05.2010, we discussed the existing and ideal decision-making processes through which Islamic responses to complex medical issues could be developed. “Is it possible for people outside the medical field to comprehend complex technical issues obscure to even many medical professionals?  Can we evaluate the morality of novel advancements by simply looking at its results?” Many questions can be asked. Obviously, it is very difficult to understand the issues at hand and to arrive at a decision.

Our first meeting featured interesting discussions. However, our questioning left us with more questions than answers. Therefore, we decided to organize a second, follow-up roundtable. We are convinced that, Muslim scholars should consider in their decision-making process, the difficulties and the sensitivities of each situation, and the risks which may ensue from the near future as well as a new methodology itself.

The planned discussion titles are:

         i.            The application of fundamental normative concepts on modern issues,

       ii.            The position of fundamental fiqh concepts (e.g. darurah, maslahah) across the process of fatwa-making on medical issues,

      iii.            The position of fundamental assumptions in classical fiqh literature vis-à-vis modern issues,

     iv.            Re-thinking of modern issues within the conceptual framework of classical fiqh literature,

       v.            Critique of our jurisprudential reflexes regarding modern issues,

     vi.            Analysis of different regional fatwa-making methodologies for medical issues,

    vii.            Discussion of the concepts of ‘fiqh’, ‘ethics’, ‘Islamic bioethics’ and ‘biofiqh’,

  viii.            Establishment of a general guideline for Islamic bioethics.