Virtual Research Seminar: ‘Sanctity of Life’

Despite a nation-wide lock down and the implementation of social isolation in the wake of a global pandemic, Al Mahdi Institute is committed to the sharing and dissemination of research. Using state of the art technology, AMI hosted its first ever virtual research seminar presented by Dr Yaser Mirdamadi (Institute of Islma’ili Studies). Dr Mirdamadi’s thought provoking presentation, entitled, ‘Is Life Sacred? Sanctity of Life Arguments in (Muslim) Bioethics, an apophatic appraisal’ was followed by an opportunity for questions during which a lively discussion ensued.

The presentation outlined the religious arguments for the sanctity of life, according to which human beings are endowed with inherent dignity, focusing on the Abrahamic faiths, and Islam in particular. This notion of the argument has many practical implications, for example, prohibiting the abortion of a foetus. Dr Mirdamadi highlighted the problems emerging from oft cited arguments such as man being created in the image of God and the Quranic verse, ‘Whosoever takes a soul, it is as if he has killed the whole of mankind’. He concluded by presenting a negative version of the sanctity of life argument, which denies sanctity as an intrinsic characteristic of human being but could confer sanctity based on the acquisition of certain moral values.

Dr Yaser Mirdamadi is a researcher in Muslim biomedical ethics at the Institute of Isma‘ili Studies, London. In addition to seminary background he received his PhD in Islamic Studies from University of Edinburgh. He has widely published articles (mainly in Persian) on philosophy of religion, political theology, modern Islam and (Muslim) ethics.