Using Fatawa Within Islamic And Muslim Bioethical Discourse: The Role Of Doctrinal And Theological Considerations – A Case Study Of Surrogate Motherhood

Aasim I. Padela, Hasan Shanawani, Mohammed Amin Kholwadia, Ahsan Arozullah

From the book, Islam and Bioethics by Vardit Rispler-Chaim Berna Arda. A form of this paper is under-review in an academic peer-reviewed journal, thus this work represents preliminary thoughts of the authors. This paper was presented in partial form at the 3rd Islam and Bioethics International Conference in Antalya Turkey in 2010. Dr. Padela’s time-effort and project funding was through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program.




Studies of fatawa, or legal opinions issued by Muslim scholars based on the Islamic ethico-legal structure, are the conrnerstone of Muslim and Islamic bioethics studies. Islamic bioethics researchers utilize fatawa as source texts for study, cilnicians use fatawa to understand the permissibility of medical intervention, health policy advocates use fatawa as the basis for constructing health policy options, and Islamic studies experts use fatawa as source texts from which to derive and prioritize principles for a global Islamic bioethics. In all of these and other disciplines, regardless of methodology, the focus is on analyzing fatawa. “For the study of twentieth century Islam it is almost the only channel through which Muslim scholars’ attitudes and legal opinions can be learned.