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What’s the Shari’ah Relationship with Bioethics?

Bioethics is the study of the ethical issues emerging from advances in biology and medicine. It also denotes moral discernment as it relates to medical policy and practice.

Bioethicists are concerned with the ethical questions that arise in the relationships among life sciences, biotechnology, medicine, politics, law, and philosophy. It includes the study of values (“the ethics of the ordinary”) relating to primary care and other branches of medicine.

Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification, is the direct manipulation of an organism’s genome using biotechnology.

As well as inserting genes, we can also use this process to remove genes. We can randomly insert the new DNA or target it to a specific part of the genome.

In Fact, humans have altered the genomes of species for thousands of years through selective breeding, or artificial selection as contrasted with natural selection, and recently through mutagenesis.

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However, genetic engineering as the direct manipulation of DNA by humans outside breeding and mutations has only existed since the 1970s.

In this interview by TV Islam Science in 2014, the Jordanian Muslim geneticist Dr. Rana Dajani is speaking about the relation between Islamic Shari’ah and bioethics. Are they compatible?

Who is Dajani?

Dajani is a molecular biologist associate professor at Hashemite University in Jordan. The UK-based Muslim Science Magazine has praised her as one of the most influential women scientists in the Muslim World.

She was instrumental in establishing the terms of law for the use of stem cell therapy in Jordan, which opened the door for regulation in the Muslim World. Moreover, Dajani founded and directed the ‘We Love Reading program’ that advocates for child literacy across 30 countries. The outcome of this led to the establishment of 330 libraries throughout Jordan. In addition to enriching the literacy of over 10,000 children, 60% female and 40% male.

For this work she received the Library of Congress Literary Award for Best Practices in 2013. Furthermore, Dajani is a member of the United Nations’ Jordanian Women’s Advisory Council.

She has published in several peer reviewed journals and in Science, and in Nature journals. Among her speaking engagements is the Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellowship symposium at the University of Cambridge; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, McGill University, and at the British Council Belief in Dialogue conference.