The “Autonomy Principle” in Islamic Medical Ethics, with an Emphasis on the Qur’ānic Views


1 Assistant Professor, Department of Islamic Studies, Shahed University, Tehran. Iran

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Qur'anic and Hadith Sciences, Shahed University, Tehran. Iran


One of the important issues in medical ethics is the way of treating and making decision on a patient’s treatment, especially if a physician encounters with some limitations to make a decision. In new medical ethics, the “Autonomy Principle” (respect for patient’s autonomy and individual autonomy) is used to solve the problem; that is, physicians decide on whether to treat a patient or not after providing the necessary information to him/her through his/her participation. The present paper tries to answer this basic question: “is the autonomy, i.e. respect for self-determination and individual independence, accepted by Islam?” and “what is the Islamic approach towards this issue?” This research has sought to find an appropriate response to the question, regarding the Qur’ānic verses, in order to raise the meaning, degree, validity, and range of “Autonomy Principle” from the point of view of Islam. Methodologically, it is based on library documents, descriptive method, and content analysis. Collecting and reviewing the related religious doctrines, a comprehensive definition of man, his position and responsibilities, and some of his specific characteristics, such as his free will (authority) and its extent, have been detected, which played an important role in reaching the answer of the question. Findings show that the “Autonomy Principle”, according to religious terms, is not acceptable generally, but Islam accepts and respects it only with some conditions; i.e. in the eyes of Islam and the Qur’ān, human beings and then the patients are not independent in both systems of takwīn (Genesis) and tashrīʼ (Legislation/Decree), but rather they have absolute authority and independence merely in the system of takwīn, and not in the system of tashrīʼ.


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