Rapid responses are electronic comments to the editor. They enable our users to debate issues raised in articles published on bmj.com. A rapid response is first posted online. If you need the URL (web address) of an individual response, simply click on the response headline and copy the URL from the browser window. A proportion of responses will, after editing, be published online and in the print journal as letters, which are indexed in PubMed. Rapid responses are not indexed in PubMed and they are not journal articles. The BMJ reserves the right to remove responses which are being wilfully misrepresented as published articles.
Al-Adnani et al report a number of reasons for the low rate of
autopsies among Muslim people in Britain. (1) One additional explanation
for this lies in the perception of medical practice in the medieval Muslim
world. There are conflicting views regarding the art of dissection in
these lands during the Middles Ages and the common consensus is that
dissection was forbidden and that anatomopathological knowledge was
derived largely from Greek literature.
However, the value of dissection and anatomy is reported by others to
have been fundamental to the work of physicians during these times, both
in the purely scientific realm and in the belief that knowledge of anatomy
would lead to a deeper understanding of God. (2)
Armed with these facts, patients should be well-placed to make an
informed decision as to the benefits of autopsy.
(1) Al-Adnani M, Scheimberg I. How can we improve the rate of
autopsies among Muslims? BMJ 2006;332:310.
(2) Abdel-Halim RE, Abdel-Maguid TE. The functional anatomy of the
uretero-vesical junction. A historical review.
Saudi Med J. 2003 Aug;24(8):815-9.
No competing interests
07 February 2006
Sher A Aslam
Senior House Officer
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, 369 Fulham Road, London, SW10 9NH