Saturday, April 4, 2009

466)Institute of Ismaili Studies Scholar, Dr Amyn B. Sajoo, Addresses Muslim Perspectives on Bioethics; Quotes of Aga Khan IV and Aga Khan III.

"The United States' position as a world leader, in my view, grows directly out of its accomplishments as a Knowledge Society - and this Knowledge - RIGHTLY APPLIED - can continue to be a resource of enormous global value"(Aga Khan IV, Austin, Texas, USA, 12 April 2008)

“Parts of the Ummah are concerned about the relationship between Muslims and the contemporary knowledge society, which is now principally rooted in the West. It is my deepest conviction, my deepest conviction, that we must make that knowledge society our own, in keeping with the Alid tradition towards the intellect, but always doing so WITHIN THE ETHICS OF OUR FAITH. Thus, I have sought from my Jamat your Nazrana of time and knowledge.”(Aga Khan IV, Paris, France, July 11th 2007)

"Our interpretation of Islam places enormous value on knowledge. Knowledge is the reflection of faith IF IT IS USED PROPERLY. Seek out that knowledge and USE IT PROPERLY"(Aga Khan IV, Toronto, Canada, 8th June 2005)

"Our religious leadership must be acutely aware of secular trends, including those generated by this age of science and technology. Equally, OUR ACADEMIC OR SECULAR ELITE MUST BE DEEPLY AWARE OF MUSLIM HISTORY, of the scale and depth of leadership exercised by the Islamic empire of the past in all fields"(Aga Khan IV, 6th February 1970, Hyderabad, Pakistan)

"Nature is the great daily book of God whose secrets must be found and USED FOR THE WELL-BEING OF HUMANITY"(Aga Khan III, Radio Pakistan, Karachi, Pakistan, February 19th 1950)

The above are 5 quotes and excerpts taken from Blogpost Four Hundred, a collection of around 100 quotes on the subjects of Knowledge, Intellect, Creation, Science and Religion:

IIS Scholar Addresses Muslim Perspectives on Bioethics
April 2009

Dr. Amyn B. Sajoo was invited to speak on bioethical choices and Islam at a training session for clinicians, ethicists and counsellors, convened by the London Research Ethics Committees of the British National Health Service (NHS). Dr. Sajoo was among three scholars at the session, the others being Professors Daniel Sokol and Søren Holm, which was held in London on 19 March 2009 at the Royal Society of Medicine’s Chandos House.

The central theme of Dr. Sajoo’s presentation was the role of maslaha or the ‘public interest’ in Muslim ethical reasoning, and how this has shaped particular choices in biomedicine, past and present. Five key narratives were offered to illustrate how maslaha allowed departures from traditional legal rules in order to serve a larger public interest. These involved decisions on organ donations, stem cell research, autopsies and dissection – followed by a final narrative on the classical emergence of maslaha itself as an avenue for social change in matters of public health. It usually comes as a surprise to western publics that supposedly ‘traditional’ societies such as Iran and Saudi Arabia have some of the most exciting and innovative programmes in health research, including on stem cell therapies for degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The use of embryonic cells in such research has incurred strong opposition in several western countries on religious grounds. Muslim ethicists, however, have successfully addressed such concerns by balancing them against the public benefit derived from innovative therapies.

In similar vein, where traditional norms about preserving the integrity of the human body would have restricted such practices as the donation of kidneys and the conduct of autopsies and dissections, Muslim jurists have drawn on maslaha to encourage individual and community choices that better serve public health. Egypt’s al-Azhar University has been key to paving the way in this regard on national health policy, as have jurists in Iran and Saudi Arabia. Likewise, the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi (Pakistan) has developed bioethical codes for clinicians that share the global bioethics emphasis on ‘beneficence’ and ‘avoiding harm’, yet do so from a robust Islamic perspective on public health innovation.

Dr. Sajoo’s final narrative, on the emergence of maslaha as a potent tool for social development, recalled the work of al-Shatibi (d. 1388) at a time when medicine was a field of unmatched advance across the Middle East. Thirteenth century physicians such as al-Nafis and al-Dakhwar had built on the iconic Canon of Medicine (Qanun fi’l tibb) of Ibn Sina (c. 980-1037). In order to gain legitimacy in public health practice, medical breakthroughs had to be sensitive to the larger social milieu, including religious traditions. It was in this regard that al-Shatibi’s rational inquiry into the higher aims or maqasid of the shari’a allowed him to develop maslaha as a balance against legal rigidity – something that the noted theologian al-Ghazali (1058-1111) had begun. Much later, this spirit of ‘reason within faith’ was to serve as a vital instrument for Muslim modernity, and it continues to do so amid the difficult choices to be made today in biomedicine and applied ethics.

Easy Nash

Easy NashThe Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)
The Holy Qu'ran's encouragement to study nature and the physical world around us gave the original impetus to scientific enquiry among Muslims: Aga Khan IV(1985)
The first and only thing created by God was the Intellect(Aql): Prophet Muhammad(circa 632CE)