Pioneering Islamic scholar, defender of women coming to Fresno: ‘Islam, Christianity and Judaism share the same genome’

The Fresno Bee

Carmen George

An Islamic scholar who served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense regarding Middle Eastern affairs and who helped draft Iraq’s constitution is this year’s Fresno Interfaith Scholar Weekend speaker.

“With what is going on in the world, we immediately decided it was an Islamic scholar that we needed – a great Islamic mind to share with us,” Jim Grant, chairman of the Fresno Interfaith Scholar Weekend Committee and director of the Social Justice Ministry for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, said about this year’s speaker, Abdulaziz Sachedina.

Sachedina is the International Institute of Islamic Thought chairman of Islamic Studies at George Mason University in Virginia. He will present a series of talks Friday through Feb. 26 at the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno, Temple Beth Israel, Wesley United Methodist Church and Fresno City College centered around the theme, “Islam, Human Rights, and Interfaith Dialogue.” The annual event is sponsored by around 30 churches and organizations in the central San Joaquin Valley. . . [Full text]

Saskatchewan religious leaders call for freedom of conscience on assisted death

Regina Leader Post

D.C. Fraser

Religious leaders from around Saskatchewan are coming together to let the province know they want freedom of conscience to be respected throughout the assisted dying process.

The federal government passed assisted-dying legislation last week, at the insistence of the Supreme Court after it struck down laws preventing doctors from helping the incurable die.

It took a national debate, and a law ping-ponging between the Senate and House of Commons, but federal government officials say the law strikes the right balance between personal autonomy for those wanting to die and protecting the vulnerable.

Reverends, bishops, pastors,rabbis, imams and the like from around the province met with provincial officials on Tuesday and signed a letter calling for freedom of conscience, whether or not something lines up with their personal moral sense, when it comes to doctor-assisted deaths. . . [Full text]

Ottawa archbishop among religious urging CPSO not to violate physicians’ conscience rights

Catholic Register

Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

OTTAWA – Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, along with an imam and a rabbi, have written a joint-intervention in favour of physicians’ conscience rights.

“No Canadian citizen, including any physician, should ever be disciplined or risk losing their professional standing for conducting their work in conformity with their most deeply held ethical or religious convictions,” wrote Prendergast, Rabbi Reuven Bulka and Imam Samy Metwally in a July 31 letter to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

The College had been seeking input until Aug. 5 on its policy review entitled “Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code.” [Full Text]

Submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario

Dr. Marc Gabel
President
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario
80 College Street
Toronto, Ontario
MSG 2E2

Dear Dr. Gabel:

Re: Policy Review ‘Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code’

As the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario prepares to review its policy on physicians and the human rights code, we are deeply disturbed by the many negative voices that have been urging the College to force doctors to “check their ethics at the door”. It should be obvious that now, only weeks after Quebec legalized euthanasia, we have arrived at the worst possible time in Canadian history to turn doctors into mere mechanics whose duty is to blindly do the bidding of their clients.

With euthanasia legal in Canada’s second-largest province, the debate about euthanasia and assisted suicide on the national level and in other provinces will only intensify. It is crucial that we preserve the right of our doctors to refuse to participate in such services even if they are legal.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide continue to be regarded as deeply unethical by many world religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

What is legal is no longer necessarily moral, and we would be unwise to place all our trust in the law as our shield, or to train our doctors to disregard their own ethical limits. Indeed, the properly formed conscience of our physicians may sometimes be the last moral and ethical boundary that protects us and provides us with life-affirming options and alternatives that respect our human dignity.

Canadians pride themselves on being a society made up of many cultures, religions and ethnicities. The freedom and democracy that underpin our pluralist society lead us to affirm the right of all citizens to participate fully in roles of leadership and the professional life, including the medical profession.  Any policy that would require doctors to contravene their consciences and to breach their most deeply held values would be outrageously exclusionary and unacceptable, as it would chase out of medicine those principled physicians who refuse to violate the central teachings of many of our largest and most ancient religions. For such doctors, referral for actions that they believe to be contrary to their medical judgement, ethical principles and religious beliefs would be as unacceptable as providing them, as it would be tantamount to outright cooperation with the action in question.

We refuse to believe that this is the kind of Canada that any of us would want to live in. The freedom of conscience is a basic human right recognized by many international agreements and protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is essential to a truly democratic society and foundational for the protection of all other human rights, including the freedom of religion.

As such, we strongly encourage the College, as it reviews its policy on this matter, to continue to protect an authentic freedom of conscience for all physicians. No Canadian citizen, including any physician, should ever be disciplined or risk losing their professional standing for conducting their work in conformity with their most deeply held ethical or religious convictions.

Sincerely yours,

Rabbi Reuben Bulka
Congregation Machzikei Hadas, Ottawa

Terrence Prendergast, S.J.
Archbishop of Ottawa

Imam Sarni Metwally
Ottawa Main Mosque

CC:
President of the Ontario Medical Association
President of the Canadian Medical Association
President of the College of Family Physicians of Canada

Kenyan Muslim leader comment on Islamic medical ethics open to question

Sheikh Abduwahab Mursal, described in a Daily Nation report as a “top religious leader” in Kenya, is reported to have said that “it [is] a taboo in the Islamic faith for a woman to be touched by or discuss sexuality with a man even if he is a medical practitioner.”  The comment appears in a news story about Sheikh Mursal’s efforts to convince Muslims in Kenya to embrace “modern family planning” practices. [Daily Nation].  The Sheik is  secretary of the Wajir branch of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya.

This kind of assertion has created an impression in western countries that Muslim physicians may not examine patients of the opposite sex, an impression that is being used to justify suppression of freedom of conscience among health care workers, and which tends to fuel prejudice against Muslim medical and nursing students and physicians.  If the Sheikh’s statement has been accurately reported, it is certainly at odds with practice in even the most conservative Islamic countries.

Quebec’s latest niqab panic

 National Post

Chris Selley

Never having witnessed fascism taking hold, I wouldn’t claim to know it to see it. But whenever commentators have likened the Parti Québécois’ proposed “secularism charter” to the early drumbeats of some historically dire intolerance, my first instinct has been to scoff.

It’s certainly stupid and unfair to threaten public servants with unemployment if they don’t forsake certain religious customs, all to solve a problem that no one except the pollsters seems able to quantify. It’s certainly disturbing that any political party would stoop so low in search of support, and all the more so that the PQ seems to be finding it down there.

But whatever the polls say, Montreal seems more cosmopolitan every time I visit. Despite reports of an uptick in anti-Muslim confrontations, surely it’s a fantastically unlikely breeding ground for any sort of widespread, street-level discrimination.

Surely. But events recently took a shivery turn: A week ago, a woman spotted two daycare workers, dressed in niqabs, marshalling their young charges through the streets of Verdun, in southwest Montreal. And as one does nowadays, she snapped a photo and posted it to Facebook.

Thousands of people saw it. And not all of the commentary was polite. [Full text]

 

Conscientious objection by Muslim students startling

J Med Ethics November 2013 Vol. 39 No. 11

Michelle McLean

physician-muslimI read Robert Card’s recent paper entitled ‘Is there no alternative? Conscientious objection by medical students’ with great interest.1 That Muslim students in America are able to conscientiously object (and this was entertained) to the cross-gender consultation is somewhat startling. I have just left the Middle East, where I worked as a medical educator for five-and-a-half years (2006–2011), and, to the best of my knowledge, even in the conservative, gender-segregated traditional Muslim culture of the United Arab Emirates, not once did a male or female student refuse to examine a patient of the opposite sex.

Several issues, many of which have been described by Padela and del Pozo,2 should be taken into consideration in relation to Muslim students’ conscientious objection to the cross-gender consultation on religious grounds. Although Islam prohibits touching or physical contact by the opposite gender, unless appropriate (eg,  by a spouse), in some circumstances, the ‘prohibited becomes permissible’.3 Medicine is one such circumstance. Islam does not … [Full Text]

Conscientious objection by medical students

A paper published in the Journal of Medical Ethics argues that accommodation of freedom of conscience by exempting students from performing morally contested activities is not possible in at least some circumstances.  The example given is that of male Muslim students who are unwilling to perform physical examinations on female subjects.

Card, Robert F. Is there no alternative? Conscientious objection by medical students. Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2011-100190

The Clash of Universalisms: Religious and Secular in Human Rights

The Hedgehog Review
Fall, 2007

Abdulaziz Sachedina, PhD.*

The major thrust of Islamic critique of the Declaration, however, is its secularism and its implied hostility to divergent philosophical or religious ideas. . . Perhaps the sore point in the secular human rights discourse, as far as Muslim theoreticians of rights language are concerned, is the total dismissal of anything religious as being an impediment to the modern development of human rights. . . .
Full Text