American Journal of Bioethics.

Ethical Obligations and Clinical Goals in End-of-Life Care: Deriving a Quality-of-Life Construct Based on the Islamic Concept of Accountability Before God (Taklīf)

End-of-life medical decision making presents a major challenge to patients and physicians alike. In order to determine whether it is ethically justifiable to forgo medical treatment in such scenarios, clinical data must be interpreted alongside patient values, as well as in light of the physician’s ethical commitments. Though much has been written about this ethical issue from religious perspectives (especially Christian and Jewish), little work has been done from an Islamic point of view. To fill the gap in the literature around Islamic bioethical perspectives on the matter, we derive a theologically rooted rubric for goals of care. We use the Islamic obligation for Muslims to seek medical treatment as the foundation for determining the clinical conditions under which Muslim physicians have a duty to treat. We next link the theological concept of accountability before God (taklīf) to quality-of-life assessment. Using this construct, we suggest that a Muslim physician is not obligated to maintain or continue clinical treatment when patients who were formerly of, or had the potential to be, mukallaf (the term for a person who has taklīf), are now not expected to regain that status by means of continued clinical treatment.

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Volume 15, Issue 1
January 2015