Medical Ethics in Religious Traditions: A Study of Judaism, Catholicism, and Islam

Aasim Ilyas Padela


Multiculturalism and its associated plurality of value systems is rapidly becoming the norm in modern medical practice. Given this increasing diversity, greater emphasis upon cultural and ethical competence in physician training is necessary in order to provide culturally sensitive and ethically sound care. Religious values shape ethical codes and are expressed in the cultural norms of subcommunities in a society. Thus, an understanding of religious values that may influence the clinical encounter is important. This paper provides an overview of the ethical constructs of the sacred law traditions of Judaism, Catholicism, and Islam and will outline approaches taken by each faith regarding medical ethics. It is hoped that the insights gained will aid both clinicians and ethicists to better understand these religious paradigms of medical ethics and thereby positively affect patient care through increased tolerance and understanding.


Bioethics; Islamic medical ethics; Jewish medical ethics; Catholic medical ethics; Shariah, Halacha, Canon Law

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