Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 509–518 | Cite as

Ethical Concepts and Future Challenges of Neuroimaging: An Islamic Perspective

  • Wael K. Al-Delaimy
Original Paper


Neuroscience is advancing at a rapid pace, with new technologies and approaches that are creating ethical challenges not easily addressed by current ethical frameworks and guidelines. One fascinating technology is neuroimaging, especially functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Although still in its infancy, fMRI is breaking new ground in neuroscience, potentially offering increased understanding of brain function. Different populations and faith traditions will likely have different reactions to these new technologies and the ethical challenges they bring with them. Muslims are approximately one-fifth of world population and they have a specific and highly regulated ethical and moral code, which helps them deal with scientific advances and decision making processes in an Islamically ethical manner. From this ethical perspective, in light of the relevant tenets of Islam, neuroimaging poses various challenges. The privacy of spirituality and the thought process, the requirement to put community interest before individual interest, and emphasis on conscious confession in legal situations are Islamic concepts that can pose a challenge for the use of something intrusive such as an fMRI. Muslim moral concepts such as There shall be no harm inflicted or reciprocated in Islam and Necessities overrule prohibitions are some of the criteria that might appropriately be used to guide advancing neuroscience. Neuroscientists should be particularly prudent and well prepared in implementing neuroscience advances that are breaking new scientific and ethical ground. Neuroscientists should also be prepared to assist in setting the ethical frameworks in place in advance of what might be perceived as runaway applications of technology.


Islam Ethics Neuroethics Neuroscience Neuroimaging 



The author acknowledges the valuable feedback and scholarly Islamic discussion of Sheik Shareif Batikhi from the American Islamic Foundation, and Imam Abdul Jalil Mezgouri from the Islamic Center of San Diego. The author also acknowledges the valuable feedback of Colin Soskolne and Abdulaziz Sachedina on a draft of this manuscript. The editorial and conceptual comments by the Guest Editors Michael Kalichman and Dena Plemmons had an important influence in improving the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Family and Preventive MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA

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