While the scope of Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh) covers, broadly speaking, two areas of human-God (‘ibadat) and human-human (mu’amalat) relations, ethics undergirds the entire value system of the religious law in Islam. Throughout its history Islamic jurisprudence has been guided by the normative system derived from religious texts that has enabled jurists at different times to provide fresh rulings by engaging in ethical analysis as well as textual hermeneutics of the foundational sources of these norms and apply them to the changed circumstances of everyday life of Muslim societies. The growing fatawa literature bears testimony to the ever expanding horizons of human need to be guided by the spiritual and moral values embedded in Islamic religious texts. In more recent years with the emphasis on secular ethics that denies any role to religious ethics to guide moral life of the people, Muslim legal scholars have begun to reexamine the fundamental aspects of Islamic ethics, and the ways in which Muslim jurists in the past have incorporated essentially religious-ethical dimension of Islamic thought in their legal methodology.

However, with a circumscribed role for human reason, traditional religious ethical discourse among Muslim scholars tends to be inadequate in terms of providing justificatory reasoning that undergirds secular ethics. Whether the jurists promote reason-based or revelation-based inquiry, they have, explicitly or implicitly, engaged in adapting ethical values in providing extraordinary solutions in medical practice and research. This paper undertakes to investigate critical relationship between law and ethics in Islamic religious thought as an important methodology in Islamic bioethics. In a number of new proposals for extensive legal methodology, the ethical dimension of Islamic thought is either conspicuously missing or poorly articulated. The study of Muslim rationalist or traditionalist theology is necessary for the emergence of extensive legal methodology. Modern issues related to neuroscience or human personhood can be resolved only when human rational capacity to make ethical decisions is acknowledged as part of the divine endowment for human perfection.


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