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Saudi Journal of Kidney Diseases and Transplantation
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SPECIAL ARTICLE Table of Contents   
Year : 1996  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 121-127
What it Means to Die in Islam and Modern Medicine

1 Tawam Hospital, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
2 Islamic Jurisprudence, United Arab Emirates

Correspondence Address:
Yousef Boobes
Tawam Hospital, P.O. Box 15258, Al Am Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates
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PMID: 18417924

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The objectives of this article is to evaluate whether the concept of brain-death can be examined by modern medicine alone as well as examine the impact of such an evaluation on Islamic views of this subject. Various clinical, philosophical, Islamic, and public-policy literature on the subject of death and brain-death have been examined. We present arguments to support the view that the subject of death (including brain-death) cannot be examined without a philosophical base. Any discussion on death should consist of definition of what it means to die, criteria for determining that death has occurred, and specific medical tests that show whether these criteria have been fulfilled. Medicine has no definition for death based on experimental sciences and death is defined by a philosophical concept. In order to accept the concept of brain-death in Western countries, they had to change first the philosophical definition of death. Also, there is still a debate in modern medicine whether death is an event or a process. Most recent Islamic literature has accepted the concept of brain-death as a medical fact, without discussing its philosophical base. This philosophical definition depends on many subjective factors. In Islam, death has a clear definition: it is the departure of the soul and hence, it is an event. However, the signs of this departure have not been specified and they were left to experts (physicians) to define them. In conclusion, medicine alone cannot formulate a concept regarding death. A philosophical definition of death must be used with it. The Islamic discussion on the concept of death should be focused mainly on its philosophical definition. The definition of death in the concept of "brain-death" does not contradict the concept of death in Islam.

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