Clinical ethics consultation is defined as a service provided by an individual or a group to help patients, families and healthcare providers, to address uncertainty or conflict regarding value-laden issues that emerge in healthcare. Currently, in many Western societies, healthcare providers and patient populations increasingly come from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds. In this situation, the practitioner and patient or even the clinical ethicist do not share a common moral perspective or the same set of values regarding health, disease, life and death. Culture and religion, give identity and shape people’s moral reasoning and responses; for example, while in Western societies, bioethics relies on human reason to find out what is right or wrong, in many other societies people turn to traditional or religious values to understand what constitutes moral conduct.

Given the fact that in many cases clinical ethics consultations are needed when there is a disagreement on a value-laden decision making, the question is how should a clinical bioethicist advise, and help patients, families and healthcare providers in decision making in a diverse, cultural and religious setting? In other words, when a clinical ethicist is bound to her/his own cultural and religious inclination(s), how can s/he ensure that professional approaches in resolving the conflict between physician and patient are unbiased? For example, how can a Muslim ethics consultant provide consultation about abortion for an 18 weeks pregnant woman, or providing clinical ethics advice to a homosexual patient?

By providing some examples such as the concept of individual autonomy, the importance of religious principles, the model of decision making in Islamic and non-Islamic context(s), this paper presents some of the challenging issues in which a Muslim clinical ethicist may face, while providing clinical ethics consultation in a non-Muslim society.


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  • Accepted: 23 June 2012
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