Informative Essay on Islamic Bioethics
Imam Al-Shafi, an Islamic Jurist, has significantly contributed to the Islamic religious tradition through his knowledge and systematic methodology in developing a new science in his approach to jurisprudence. Imam Al-Shafi has contributed to the Islamic living tradition by reconciling the relationships between the Hanafi Madhab and Maliki Madhab, providing a reliable process of Jurisprudence. Sufism is a spiritual and mystical philosophy of Islam focused on a direct connection to Allah by forgoing material goods and relationships. Imam Al-Shafi gave this approval to the practices of Sufism, also known as Tasawwuf. Shafi has provided the fundamental beliefs and permissible actions to ensure adherents’ daily lives and practices are guided by halal fiqh within the requirements of Sharia Law. Islamic bioethics is a combination of principles, rights, and a call to virtue (Ishan). The bioethics principles and rights of two bioethical issues such as abortion and organ transplantation/donation guide adherents of Islam, which has contributed to making Islam a living religious tradition. For submission to Allah, adherents must follow the permissible rulings of bioethics.
Shafi has contributed to making Islam a living religion through two central philosophies that regard the authentic approach to addressing Islamic Law and how it is to be applied. Shafi impacted and revitalized the Islamic tradition through the uniting of two Madhabs. He brought commonality and respect to many Sunni Muslims under common jurisprudence. Through this it allows adherents to ‘obey Allah and to obey the messenger’. Dr. Ali Khan, an American Muslim speaker states how Shafi has revitalized and reformed the Islamic tradition, “Thanks to Shafi we have unity in Islam now.” This directly links to “…all together, by the rope…and be not divided among yourselves;” (Al-Qur’an 3:103). The Hanafi Madhab emphasized opinions reached by Ijtihad to address communal issues. However, the Maliki Madhab emphasized the use of Qiyas and the Ijma with consideration to the teachings of the Hadith and Quran. Shafi found common ground between the two competing schools of thought by developing a methodology both could use. His method affirmed the emphasis that Maliki put on Hadith but challenged the Hadith that he used. His method affirmed the way that Hanafi used qiyas to add detail to the law while challenging the way that they perceived the authority of sacred texts.
Shafi has contributed to making Islam a living religion by validating Sufism (Tassawwuf). In a time when many scholars and religious leaders frowned upon Sufi practice, Shafi deemed it as a legal and permissible form of worship. Given Al-Shafi’s position as a highly influential jurist, he gave license for the movement to grow and spread across Islam, especially within Sunni circles. This directly links to Nuh Ha Mim Keller, a contemporary Muslim Shafi scholar who practices Tassawwuf. He states in his book Sea Without Shore “thousands of Sufi masters of the Islamic tradition who founded the great mystical orders, had immense influence for centuries at all levels of society”. Nuh Ha Mim Keller is an example of the continued impact of Shafi’s acceptance of Sufism on the expression of Islam today. Shafi wrote in al Diwan, a work of Imam’s poetry “Be both a faqih and a Sufi: do not be only one of them! Verily, by Allah’s truth, I am advising you sincerely.”, this specific quote links to the stimulus “Obey Allah”. Some Fiqh scholars assumed Sufism was the source of the retrogression of adherents.
The principal ethical teachings of Islam are founded upon the acceptance of realizing Allah’s ‘final determination’ through submission. Bioethics is associated with Islamic laws and ethics and the importance of human life. The bioethical issue of Abortion, according to Islam, is that human life is sacred and only the creator, Allah, can take that away. Abortion is therefore considered haram (forbidden) because it suggests a lack of trust in Allah. However, positions on abortion are notably variable, and many religious scholars permit abortion in particular circumstances during specific stages of development. It is generally believed that it is accepted if a mother’s life is in danger saving the mother’s life is the ‘lesser of two evils’ because the woman is considered the source of life, whereas the fetus is only “potential life”. Some scholars permitted that the fetus is still in the first 120 days, allowing abortion where the mother is a victim of rape or incest. Others regard abortion as lawful up to the time of ‘ensoulment’, when the soul or ‘Ruh’ enters the body, usually calculated as occurring after 120 days of pregnancy when it is believed the soul enters the child; “…the angel is sent and he breathes the soul into it” (Hadith). The Qur’an makes it clear that abortion is not permitted because the family fears that they will not be able to provide for it, they should trust Allah to look after things and according to ‘Umma’ the community is called to support the family and provide almsgiving: “And kill not your children for fear of poverty” (Qur’an 17:32).
Organ transplantation/donation is the principle of ‘saving human life’ and takes precedence over the harm that might befall the corpse provided the corpse is not desecrated, handled, and treated with respect. In the case of a living donor, the principle of ‘no harm’ is invoked. The donor cannot give a vital organ, risking his own life, this has to be out of goodwill. Intention (Niyyah) is of pivotal importance in Islam. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stated that “Actions are to be judged only by intentions and a man will have only what he intended.” (Abu Dawud, 2201). Doing a necessary post-mortem examination or donating an organ does not mean mutilation of the corpse nor is it an act of disrespect. The majority of scholars from various schools of Islamic law refer to the priority given to saving a life. As a result, they endorse organ translation as a permissible necessity even though in theory it may appear to go against the beliefs of Islam. As the Quran does not expressly forbid transplantation this ruling is deemed allowable. This view is held by the majority of the Islamic community and is promoted by the Shari’a Academy of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Overall, Organ donation is deemed allowable in Shari’a.
To conclude, Imam Al-Shafi and the principles and rulings of bioethics contribute to making Islam a living tradition. Shafi reconciled the relationships between the Hanafi Madhab and Maliki Madhab and approved the practices of Sufism. The ethical teachings of bioethics guide adherents of Islam through the principles and permissible rulings surrounding Abortion and Organ transplantation/donation to achieve the ‘final determination’.
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