In this paper I discuss contemporary examples of bioethical debates in which some Muslims have objected to new medical interventions on the grounds that they dubiously change God’s creation (khalq Allah) or that such medical interventions trespass on the human body as God’s property (milk Allah). In closely scrutinizing these examples, it becomes apparent that such stances about the proper human-God relationship are in fact shaped and predetermined by ideas about social relationships between humans and the power inequalities that lie therein. For example, Shaykh Sha’rawi in Egypt famously objected to organ transplantation on the grounds that the body “belonged to God.” But why was this particular medical intervention singled out while others that clearly intervene in “God’s property” were not? Why is the large number of medically unnecessary Caesarean sections in Egyptian hospitals, in contrast, a widespread practice that poses avoidable risks and harms to both mothers and babies, not an object of bioethical or religious debate, on the ground of unnecessary interference and harm to “God’s creation”? By analyzing case studies about organ transplantation, reproductive technologies, and sex change surgery and the religious and medical debates they stirred in Egypt, it becomes clear that we need more explicit analysis about how arguments couched in language about the human-God relationship can further perpetuate, on the one hand, gender and class inequalities, or even challenge them on the basis that only the merciful Creator can act justly and prudently toward His creation.


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  • Received: 01 March 2014
  • Accepted: 01 March 2014
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