0703-Patterns And Trends Of Religious Edicts on Medical Matters in Brunei Darussalam 1962-2005

Omar Hasan K. Kasule Sr, Institute of Medicine, Universiti Brunei Darussalam


            The objective of this paper is to identify medico-legal issues that are of importance from an Islamic perspective in the Bruneian society. This information will be used in designing educational and training curricula for health care givers in Brunei to make sure they can communicate effectively with the patients and can give them quality care based on comprehensive understanding of the Bruneian socio-religious context. The objectives above will be achieved by presenting and discussing results of a statistical analysis of the trends of religious edicts on medical matters issued by the Mufti Kerajaan in the period 1962-2005.


            The Mufti of Brunei gives religious edicts, fatwas, on a wide range of questions addressed to him. These are published in an annual volume called Fatwa Mufti Kerajaan. He also in addition writes about religious issues that he feels need clarification and these writings are published as Irsyad Hukum on an annual basis. Medical issues take a significant portion of both publications and are put sections titles Perubatan or Rawatan & Kesihatan. There are however other matters of implicitly medical importance found scattered in other parts of the publications. The scope of the study is limited to identification and classification of the edits as explicitly medical or implicitly medical and then to further classify them according to general medical diagnostic categories that also correspond to specific sections the medical curriculum.


            The following official publications were obtained from the publication unit of the Mufti’s office: Fatwa Mufti Kerajaan 1994-2003 in Bahasa Melayu, Fatwas of the State Mufti 1994-1995 in English, Fatawa Mufti al Dawlat 1994-1995 in Arabic, Fatwa Mufti Kerajaan: Rawatan & Kesihatan 1962-2005 in Bahasa Melayu, Rokok & Merokok in Bahasa Melayu, and Irsyad Hukum 1995-2002 in Bahasa Melayu. The questions and answers were read carefully and essential information on each edit was abstracted using a uniform and pre-tested data abstraction form. Each edict was classified in one of 3 ways: non-medical, implicitly medical, or explicitly medical. Edicts of medical nature were classified as either normal physiological condition (‘aadaat al hayat) or to a disease condition (maradh).


            In the period 1995-2004, 402 fatwas were issued and 40 (10%) were related to medical matters. In the same period 194 irsyad hukum were issued and 36 (18.5%) were related to medical matters. There was no significant variation of the proportion of edicts between the period 1995-1999 and 2000-2004. The majority of 65 fatwas on medical matters issued 1962-2004 were in three areas: therapeutics (23), ibadat for the sick (13), and issues arising out of modern medical technology (19). The 17 medical fatwas relating to ibadat were distributed as follows: taharat (4), puasa (7), Hajj (1), and umrah (1). The 23 fatwas relating to therapeutics were in 2 categories: therapeutic drugs (11) and spiritual treatments (12).  The 19 fatwas on modern medical issues were distributed as follows: transplantation (7), Contraception (5), cosmetic surgery (2), and 1 fatwa for each of abortion, AIDS, blood transfusion, drug abuse, and life support. There were 3 fatwas 1 for each of the following normal conditions: menstruation, pregnancy, and the post-natal period. The 5 fatwas on surgical conditions were distributed as blood transfusion (2), artificial teeth (1), contact lenses (1), and dental fillings (1).


            The data indicates that Bruneians have recourse to religious authorities to get answers regarding medical matters. The data reported in only the tip of the iceberg because most people will consult the religious authority in the nearest mosque and will not bother to write a question to be sent to the mufti. The range of issues covered is what would be expected in a normal community.


            The paper recommends that issues such as those covered by the religious edicts should be included in educational curricula of medical, nursing, and allied health students as well as continuing medical education programs for practicing physicians and nurses. Such a measure will improve communication between caregivers and patients and result in more patient compliance and cooperation.

ŠProfessor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. March 2007