The Middle East is a variegated area of the world in its nationalities, religious groups, ethnicities, political regimes, and social structures. These are only a few of the elements responsible for the area's complex yet pivotal role in world history from ancient times to the present.
The religion of Islam, which originated in Mecca (in modern Saudi Arabia) at the end of the sixth century, is the most prevalent religion in the Middle East in terms of the number of its followers, the Muslims (see also Chapters 18, 17, and 25). Despite some significant diversity of ideological inclinations and theological perceptions among Muslims, several dogmatic elements, legal doctrines, and ethical boundaries can be seen as common denominators uniting Muslims all over the world. This chapter deals with common denominators in the wide field of Islamic medical ethics, especially those emanating from Middle Eastern contemporary Islamic sources and literature.
THE LITERATURE AND OTHER CHANNELS THROUGH WHICH ETHICS TRAVELS
The contemporary literature on medical ethics in Islam is for the most part written in Arabic. This literature has been accumulating since the second half of the twentieth century and has become abundant since the last decade of that century. Interest in medical subjects such as bedside manner, the role of the physicians in society and vis-à-vis their patients, pharmacology, and so forth, has been manifested through philosophical and legal books and treatises and in scientific professional manuals throughout the fourteen centuries of Islamic history (Ridwan 1984; Ullmann 1978).