By Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr.


Islam puts emphasis on seeking knowledge. The search for knowledge is a difficult but necessary process as we learn from the story of Musa and the righteous man. Islam encourages benefitting and using knowledge. There is no consideration for knowledge not accompanied by practical application. Tadabbur involves critical observation and consideration of information. Tadabbur involves critical consideration of information. Humans are encouraged to derive empirical knowledge from observation of the earth and their own bodies. The observation referred to is serious and deliberative, al nadhar bi al tadabbur. Tadabbir is required even with the holy text of the Qur’an. Thought can be based on empirical observation. The observation can be of the earth. It can also be by observation of the human body. Islam encourages active intellectual effort in looking for knowledge. The process of ijtihad is exertion of maximum intellectual effort to discover the truth or understand the relation between truths. Ijtihad is also used to discover and identify falsehoods. There are parallels between the tools of ijtihad used by classical Muslim scholars and the processes of reaching conclusions in modern scientific research. The process of inductive logic used in medical research is the same as qiyaas usuuli used by scholars of the methodology of the Law. The process of reaching a scientific consensus is similar to the process of scholarly consensus. The prophet taught that there is a cure for every disease. There is an injunction to search for cures by processes of medical research.



The Ethics committee approves research proposals and protocols that have ethical implications. It ensures the highest ethical standards in any research and protection of research subjects as stipulated in the Helsinki declaration, and protection of researchers from committing mistakes that lead to criminal prosecution. It monitors the conduct of the study to detect any ethical violations. Membership should include major medical and surgical specializations, hospital physicians, hospital nursing staff, general practitioners, pharmacists, statisticians, ethicists, and lay persons from the community. All genders and age groups must be represented. The research application form consists of the following: identifying information, description of the research, protocol and dates, methodology of research, and ethico-legal issues. The patient/volunteer information sheet provides information on the research: purposes, procedures, duration, risks, benefits, and ethico-legal issues. The informed consent form ensures that the research subject understands the research and voluntarily agrees to participate. A confidential questionnaire for research subjects should include questions on the adequacy of the information sheet amd voluntary consent. A confidential review questionnaire for researchers should include items about: start and end of the study, protocol amendments, progress of recruitment, provision of information, obtaining consent, withdrawal of consent, adverse events, and outcome of research.



Research is a departure from the commonly accepted treatment. Recruitment into studies should reflect the community’s ethnic, gender, and age distribution. Results of an unbalanced study may not be applicable to all groups. Decisions on research priorities may be made on a scientific basis or a non-scientific basis (political, socio-cultural, elite interests). The source of funding may in an indirect and discreet way influence the conduct of research and the report of its findings thus leading to lack of objectivity. Islam enjoins dissemination of knowledge. Islam encourages dissemination of research findings by teaching or publication. Islam prohibits hiding knowledge. Drug companies that sponsor research to develop patentable products do not appreciate the type of transparency advocated by Islam. Publication of research results serves scientific communication and scientific networking. Concern about copyright and intellectual property rights limits dissemination of knowledge by publication. Biases in publication arise at the level of researchers who normally do not submit negative studies for publication. Editors prefer publishing positive studies. Biases in selection of papers for publication arise from the peer review process due to old boy networks. Despite the best of efforts to police itself, the scientific research community still has cases of research fraud. Fraud manifests as cooking or doctoring data, selective reporting of data, suppression of negative information, and ‘stealing’ others’ work. Financial gain, reputation, and the pressure to publish or perish are the driving forces behind fraud.

(c) Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. 2004