Journal of Religious Ethics 36 (1):13-36 (2008)

The Islamic philosophical, mystical, and theological sub-traditions have each made characteristic assumptions about the human person, including an incorporation of substance dualism in distinctive manners. Advances in the brain sciences of the last half century, which include a widespread acceptance of death as the end of essential brain function, require the abandonment of dualistic notions of the human person that assert an immaterial and incorporeal soul separate from a body. In this article, I trace classical Islamic notions of death and the soul, the modern definition of death as "brain death," and some contemporary Islamic responses to this definition. I argue that a completely naturalistic account of human personhood in the Islamic tradition is the best and most viable alternative for the future. This corporeal monistic account of Muslim personhood as embodied consciousness incorporates the insights of pre-modern Muslim thinkers yet rehabilitates their characteristic mistakes and thus has the advantages of neuroscientific validity and modern relevance in trans-cultural ethical discourse; it also helps to alleviate organ shortages in countries with majority Muslim populations, a serious ethical impasse of recent years
Keywords brain death  spirit  soul  personhood  Ibn Qayyim al‐Jawziyya  Ibn Sina (Avicenna)  organ transplantation
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9795.2008.00334.x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,259
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Whose Justice? Which Rationality?Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1988 - University of Notre Dame Press.
Avicenna.Lenn Evan Goodman - 1992 - Routledge.
Mystical Dimensions of Islam.Hamid Algar & Annemarie Schimmel - 1978 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 98 (4):485.

View all 8 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Brain Death Without Definitions.Winston Chiong - 2005 - Hastings Center Report 35 (6):20-30.
Current Debate on the Ethical Issues of Brain Death.Masahiro Morioka - 2004 - Proceedings of International Congress on Ethical Issues in Brain Death and Organ Transplantation:57-59.
Epistemology of Brain Death Determination.Douglas N. Walton - 1981 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 2 (3):259-274.


Added to PP index

Total views
101 ( #117,230 of 2,518,720 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #408,070 of 2,518,720 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes