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Keywords:

  • bioethics;
  • fatwa;
  • health care;
  • Islam;
  • medical ethics;
  • Muslims;
  • organ donation;
  • theory of planned behavior;
  • Ulama

Abstract

Bioethics and health researchers often turn to Islamic jurisconsults (fuqahā’) and their verdicts (fatāwā) to understand how Islam and health intersect. Yet when using fatwā to promote health behavior change, researchers have often found less than ideal results. In this article we examine several health behavior change interventions that partnered with Muslim religious leaders aiming at promoting organ donation. As these efforts have generally met with limited success, we reanalyze these efforts through the lens of the theory of planned behavior, and in light of two distinct scholarly imperatives of Muslim religious leaders, the ʿilmī and the islāhī. We argue for a new approach to health behavior change interventions within the Muslim community that are grounded in theoretical frameworks from the science of behavior change, as well the religious leadership paradigms innate to the Islamic tradition. We conclude by exploring the implications of our proposed model for applied Islamic bioethics and health research.