The beginning of human life: Islamic bioethical perspectives

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In January 1985, about 80 Muslim religious scholars and biomedical scientists gathered in a symposium held in Kuwait to discuss the broad question "When does human life begin?" This article argues that this symposium is one of the milestones in the field of contemporary Islamic bioethics and independent legal reasoning (Ijtihād). The proceedings of the symposium, however, escaped the attention of academic researchers. This article is meant to fill in this research lacuna by analyzing the proceedings of this symposium, the relevant subsequent developments, and finally the interplay of Islam and the West as a significant dimension in these discussions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-213
Number of pages39
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012



  • Bioethics
  • Biotechnology
  • Ijtihad (study of Islamic principles to derive legal opinions from the law)
  • Islam
  • Origin of life
  • Personhood
  • Qur'an, science
  • Stem cells
  • Theology and science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education

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