• bioethics;
  • developing world bioethics;
  • medical ethics;
  • research ethics;
  • Islam;
  • confidentiality


Protecting confidentiality is an essential value in all human relationships, no less in medical practice and research.1 Doctor-patient and researcher-participant relationships are built on trust and on the understanding those patients' secrets will not be disclosed.2 However, this confidentiality can be breached in some situations where it is necessary to meet a strong conflicting duty.3

Confidentiality, in a general sense, has received much interest in Islamic resources including the Qur'an, Sunnah and juristic writings. However, medical and research confidentiality have not been explored deeply. There are few fatwas about the issue, despite an increased effort by both individuals and Islamic medical organizations to use these institutional fatwas in their research.

Infringements on confidentiality make up a significant portion of institutional fatwas, yet they have never been thoroughly investigated. Moreover, the efforts of organizations and authors in this regard still require further exploration, especially on the issue of research confidentiality.

In this article, we explore medical and research confidentiality and potential conflicts with this practice as a result of fatwas released by international, regional, and national Islamic Sunni juristic councils. We discuss how these fatwas affect research and publication by Muslim doctors, researchers, and Islamic medical organizations.

We argue that more specialized fatwas are needed to clarify Islamic juristic views about medical and research confidentiality, especially the circumstances in which infringements on this confidentiality are justified.