Cross-Cultural Issues in Bioethics: The Example of Human Cloning

By Heiner Roetz | Go to book overview

The Ethics of Human Cloning: With Reference to
the Malaysian Bioethical Discourse

Siti Nurani Mohd Nor

Abstract: The article outlines the ethical discourse on cloning with special
reference to the Public Conference on Reproductive Human Cloning held
in Kuala Lumpur in 2002. This conference o brought together speakers
from the diverse communities in Malaysia, above all the Islamic, Bud-
dhist, Hindu and Christian communities. The four main communities
agreed on the sanctity of the marriage institution and regarded it as the
only legal means of producing a child. Reproductive cloning was unani-
mously opposed. The article discusses in detail the ethics of human clon-
ing as viewed from the Islamic perspective. The author believes that the
concept of the beginning of life as discussed among scientists and Islamic
authorities in Malaysia has not yet been conclusively determined and
should be dealt with more urgently in light of the new issue of human
cloning. The methodology of ijtihad, a reasoning process that allows for
the derivation of new regulations on current problems not addressed in
the Quran and the Sunnah, is outlined.

Key Words: Islamic ethics, Shari'a, Fatwa, Cloning, In vitro fertilisation,
Embryo, Sanctity of human life, Human dignity, Family lineage, Warnock,
Public interest.

The 23 million multiracial and multicultural population makes Malaysia the richest country in Asia in terms of ethnic and cultural diversity, and she has earned the reputation of 'melting pot' of some of the major organised religions and oldest philosophical systems of the world. The various ethico-religious traditions can provide interesting and practicable resources in worldviews, rituals, institutions, styles of education, and simple ideas of human relations.

Bioethical deliberations in Malaysia are often significantly influenced by Islam as the dominant religion.1 However, other groups are regularly invited to put forward ideas for a common stand on several bioethical issues. In fact, these groups have contributed to the development of the Malaysian culture, making it a distinct Asian culture in its own right, one that is an alternative to the Western European and North American exemplification of the Enlightenment mentality. For example, the conspicuous absence of the sense of community is absent in the Enlightenment tradition. Consciously aware that traditional Greek philosophy, Judaism and

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