Opinions on the Legitimacy of Death Declaration by Neurological Criteria from the Perspective of 3 Abrahamic Faiths

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Andrew C Miller (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
Web Site: http://www.ecu.edu/lib/

Abstract: Traditional criteria to identify death may not fit all circumstances. This manuscript explores religious jurisprudence to ascertain whether death declaration by neurological criteria (DDNC) is accepted as a valid by 3 Abrahamic faith traditions: Islam, Judaism, and Catholicism. Among Islamic sources (order of primacy), neither the Qur'an, Sunnah as reported in Ḥadīth, Ijmā '(scholarly consensus), nor Qiyas (precedent-based analogy) clearly describe death determination criteria. Through Ijtihad (lowest level of Sharīʿah), 5 of 6 non-binding fatwā support DDNC. Faith-based medical organizations are divided. Eleven of 13 surveyed Muslim-majority countries have laws supporting DDNC. Concern exists that premature death declaration could violate the Sharīʿah concept of Hifz-An-nafs (saving life). As such, DDNC remains debated in Islamic circles. Among the 3 main sources of Jewish law (Halacha), the Torah (oral and written) does not clearly define death declaration criteria. Despite Talmudic interpretations of Misnah Oholot 1: 6 and Gamara Ḥullin 21a suggest a possible justification for death determination using neurologic criteria, the bulk of mitzvot d'rabbanan (Rabbinic Law) rejects DDNC and adheres to cardiorespiratory criteria. Lastly, Catholic Church Cannon Law and the Holy Scripture recorded in Bible does not define death determination criteria. Following the Council of Vienne, Saint Thomas's loss of integration view has predominated. Subsequent declarations by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have cautiously accepted DDNC. Despite dissenting opinions in each faith, DDNC is currently accepted as valid by many Muslims and Catholics, while rejected by Judaism.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Death, Brain death, Islam, Judaism, Catholicism, Medical ethics, End-of-life

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Opinions on the Legitimacy of Death Declaration by Neurological Criteria from the Perspective of 3 Abrahamic Faithshttp://hdl.handle.net/10342/8251The described resource references, cites, or otherwise points to the related resource.