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Memorandum from Islamic Concern (MIB 969)

1. I would like on behalf of the 1.6 million British Muslims, including 30,000 Muslim doctors and health professionals, to present to you our clear united view against any intentional ending of the life of any patient, whatever means or way, direct or indirect, active or passive, by commission or omission; but especially by depriving patients of their basic human rights to food, fluid and life-saving treatment.

2. We British Muslims would like in particular to submit to you our strong opposition to the government's draft Mental Incapacity Bill.

3. All Muslims in Britain, Europe and all over the world believe that life is sacred and that only God, the Creator of all, is the
Owner and Author of life. Only God Almighty will decide about the end of the life of each one of us. No doctor, judge, court, MP, Lord or relative can give any legitimate ruling to end the life of any patient nor any innocent human being by any means or way.

4. All patients and the disabled, the old and the chronically sick are equal in the eyes of God and their life is sacred. For Muslim patients the best death is to die naturally without taking any step to end one's life. A patient who ends his/her life "has played God", "challenged God".

5. This is why all types of euthanasia (whether direct or indirect, active or passive), suicide and assisted suicide are prohibited by all the Holy Scriptures.

. For example, God (Allah) said in the final holy book Al Qur'an: In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful: - "God/Allah takes the souls at the time of their death, and those that died during their sleep . . ." (chapter 39, verse 42). - "And (God) is the one who gave you life, then shall he ordain you to die, then shall he give you life again, truly mankind is ungrateful . . ." (chapter 22, verse 66). - "Do not kill yourselves, for verily Allah has been to you
most merciful." (chapter 4,verse 29). - ". . . take not life which God/ Allah has made sacred" (chapter 6, verse 151).

7. It is also inhumane to take any step of action or omission intentionally to end the life of any patient. The provision of food and fluid is a basic human right and need for the sick and the healthy, for men and animals alike. No one has the right to stop it or withdraw it from any creature (with the intention of causing or hastening death) but we should provide it to all until the moment of natural death, as fixed by God Almighty. Otherwise one is killing the patient directly (euthanasia) and causing his/her death by starvation and dehydration.

8. Food and fluid are not to be considered medical treatment. It is ridiculous that healthy people who are having daily food and fluid could be considered to be having medical treatment.

9. Likewise, to omit a life-saving treatment is unethical, inhumane and against good medical practice.

10. It is in the best interests of patients to be given all possible means to protect their lives; care, love and counselling;
family and social support; treatment for any sub-clinical depression; the best analgesic care; and to be allowed to die naturally, as God wanted according to his time, and not as the doctor, relative or court may have wanted.

11. The making of an advance decision with a suicidal intent should be illegal. Such a "living will" would be more ccurately described as a "death will". Even if the law would allow for suicidal advance decisions, they should be rejected and certainly not regarded as legally binding.

12. Any court or "lasting power of attorney" should protect the life of every patient (mentally incapacitated or not) and prohibit any means or procedure which will end the life of any patient (direct or indirect, by commission or omission), especially food, fluid, or any life-saving treatment.

13. Many mentally incapacitated patients do not give their consent to withdraw or withhold food and fluid from them.

14. Patients with or without mentally incapacity have equal rights and equal obligations. Any mentally incapacitated patient should have the same protection for his/her life like any other patient, so that no exploitation of the vulnerable can occur. August 2003

Memorandum from the Islamic Medical Association UK (MIB 4 I am writing to you to express my deep concern and objection to the new Mental Incapacity Bill in context of the potential of withdrawal of food, fluids and necessary treatment to terminally ill/mentally incapacitated patients.

Islam like other monotheistic faiths upholds the sanctity and sacredness of life, so much so that an analogy of any individual terminating an individual's life is given in the Quran (chapter 5: verse 32); it is likened to the "slaying of the whole of mankind and on the contrary anyone saving a life, it is as if he has saved the life of all of mankind".

We have a responsibility and a duty to protect the most vulnerable in society as healthcare professionals and to place a clear and defining line between treating and harming our patients. One area where this can truly be exemplified is in the last hours, days or months of any terminally ill/mentally-incapacitated individual. Why deny their basic human rights; to the simplicities in life such as food and drink, when they are at their most vulnerable, possibly unaware or unconscious.

Many individuals cite "to die with dignity" is a basic human right and I would agree, to die with dignity means as medical healthcare professionals to provide necessary nutrients, fluids, medicines, analgesia and counselling/company to make an individual comfortable during their remaining years.

The introduction of any legislation allowing the withdrawal of food/fluid from any patient or to neglect life saving treatment is euthanasia by omission and a crime against the sanctity of life. The potential for abuse of this type of legislation by all members of society for personal, social or political gain is too of grave concern. This has only been recently emphasised-by the "Shipman" enquiry where advantage of the more vulnerable groups of society lead sadly to numerous deaths over five decades.

Hence, I urge you on behalf of the members of the Islamic Medical Association (IIMA) to reject the introduction of the Mental Incapacity Bill and return basic human rights to all in society at a time where each and every one of us will be at our most vulnerable. August 2003

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