A “good” fatwa

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 23 November 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1227
  1. William H Isbister, former professor of surgery
  1. Hangstrasse, Moosbach-Feucht, D-90537 Germany

    The word “fatwa” has come to have a rather sinister meaning in many Western countries. This misconception has arisen, in large part, as a result of one author and his work and the publicity given to a resulting fatwa. A fatwa is simply a legal opinion in Islam given by a mufti or other religious leader on a specific issue, and this account describes one with which I was involved.

    In 1990 I was appointed chairman of surgery at a large hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Most of the surgical patients had cancer, and many major and often futile …

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