Islamic Perspectives on the Beginning of Human Life: Jurisprudential, Theological and Social Implications

About the Workshop

The 11th Annual Contemporary Fiqhi Issues Workshop, organised by Al-Mahdi Institute (AMI) in collaboration with AMI Press will take place between Thursday 6th, and Friday 7th July 2023. Call For Papers are due by Monday 3rd April 2023. Continue reading for more details.

AMI’s series on Contemporary Fiqhī Issues facilitates critical discussions on challenges faced by Muslims in everyday life. The workshop brings together experts in traditional Islamic sciences of various dispositions, academics, and individual’s working with grassroot communities, enabling a dialectic between theoreticians and practitioners who understand the day-to-day problems, resulting in a multi-disciplinary publication. 

This year, AMI hopes to facilitate scholarship on “Islamic Perspectives on the Beginning of Human Life: Jurisprudential, Theological and Social Implications.” 

Medical practices and technologies relating to human reproduction raise a host of issues for Muslims. For instance, researching the human genome provides a greater understanding of certain fatal diseases, like some forms of cancer, and improves prospects for creating cures and alleviating the suffering of many people. Ongoing work in this field means that it could be possible theoretically to clone specific human cells to treat patients with currently untreatable conditions and to grow organs for transplantation.

Although most countries have strict laws preventing cloning, it is also possible, in theory, to make human clones or modify the DNA in such a way that the changes are passed on to the following generations.

This raises theological problems: Can the creation of God be altered? Would it then possess the ‘spirit’ breathed into humans by God? From the jurisprudential lens, there are questions over the permissibility of creating human embryos for research purposes that will then be destroyed, which is related to the debate on abortion. From a social and ethical perspective, there is the concern that newer technology, like genome editing, will only be accessible to the wealthy, increasing existing disparities in access to health care. Aside from genetics, there are a host of other contemporary medical practices relating to the beginning of human life, including abortion, assisted reproductive techniques, surrogacy, sperm and egg donation, all of which have various jurisprudential, theological and social implications. Furthermore, as our technology continues to advance and our knowledge base expands, we are inevitably, and perhaps most importantly, brought back to fundamental questions about human origins and personhood. 

Call For Papers

The workshop welcomes proposals that build on, or fill the gaps, in the current academic literature across the spectrum of different disciplines. We welcome the following contributions:  

  • Seminary trained scholars who can deal with the theological and jurisprudential of modern reproductive techniques. 
  • Social scientists, anthropologists and medical practitioners who detail how Muslims deal with such issues.  
  • Philosophers, ethicists and academics can inform broader theoretic discussions, for example, on the nature of the soul or foetus.    

Shortlisted abstracts are expected to be developed into a full academic paper, which will be published in the form of an edited book. Upon successful completion of all publication requirements, contributors will be awarded an honorarium. The workshop will run over two days, each having 6–8 papers, and includes lunch, refreshments, and dinner. Each paper should last no more than 20 minutes. The language of the workshop (and published papers) will be English only.  AMI will cover all reasonable travel and accommodation costs and all presenters are required to stay for the full two days. 

Schedule for Submissions 

  • Abstracts: The deadline for abstracts is 3rd April 2023. Abstracts should be 300–500 words and should be submitted along with a CV in either MS Word or PDF format. 
  • Shortlisting Abstracts: Abstracts shortlisted for the workshop will be notified by 28th April 2023.
  • Workshop: Selected abstracts will be invited for a two-day workshop on 6th-7th July 2023 at  Al-Mahdi Institute, 60 Weoley Park Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham B29 6RB. 
  • Full papers: Final papers must be submitted by 6th November 2023. Papers should be presented in line with the house style of AMI Press and have a word count between 6,000–10,000 words maximum, excluding bibliography. Papers will then be reviewed and sent back to authors with the editor’s comments for final changes.  
  • Publication: The edited volume is scheduled for publication in 2024. 

Submission of Abstracts 

An abstract of no more than 500 words should be submitted in the form of a MS Word document or PDF attached to [email protected] by 3rd April 2023. Applicants should submit a CV with a listing of publications and recent employment history.  

Submissions Process (Full papers) 

Full papers should be submitted in the form of a MS Word document attached to an email to [email protected] by 6th November 2023 

The first page of the manuscript should contain the following:  

  • The title 
  • The name(s) and institutional affiliation of the author(s) 
  • Short biography 
  • The address, telephone, and email address of the corresponding author(s) 
  • An abstract of 300 words maximum 
  • A bibliography 
  • Six keywords 

Final submissions should be 6,000–10,000 words, excluding the bibliography, and written in accordance with the Chicago Manual of Style. Any specific conventions adopted by AMI Press will be communicated to authors in due course.