Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Arts




Ingrid Mattson

2nd Supervisor

Daniel A. Smith

3rd Supervisor

John Heng


Medical decision-making in adolescence has not been studied in-depth from the Islamic bioethics perspective. The objective of this dissertation is to use the Islamic ethical position to explore the adolescent medical decision-making process in Canada so as to contribute to building frameworks for Islamic bioethics consumers such as patients, physicians and policymakers. A descriptive literature review is conducted to analyze data from related disciplines such as Islamic theology, developmental psychology, law and clinical ethics through principles of Islamic ethics such as objectives of Sharīʿa, legal maxims and operational maxims. The concepts of taklīf, ahliyya, bulūgh and rushd are focused on due to their criticality in judging moral, religious and legal obligations of the adolescent, as well as adolescents’ decision-making capacity. Our research shows that approaching the process of adolescents’ medical decision-making in Canada from an Islamic ethics perspective involves certain factors. These include intention of medical intervention (ḍarūrī, taḥsīnī or hājī), adolescents’ competence and emotional maturity, potential benefit/harm of the procedure, and their family’s role in decision-making. A guideline using Islamic ethics featuring ‘questions to ask’ is then provided for healthcare workers regarding adolescents’ medical decision-making in Canada.

Summary for Lay Audience

Adolescents are in a transition stage between childhood and adulthood. This sometimes causes confusion about how to treat them when they need to make a health-related decision, and conflict often occurs regarding how much say they should have in their own treatment. This dissertation explores adolescents’ medical decision-making from an Islamic perspective by focusing on the guiding ethical principles of the faith. Although medical decision-making matter is presented through examples from different countries, our study is limited to the Canadian context. According to our research results, a medical intervention should be judged according to the intention that it is invented to serve. The adolescent’s intention in considering that intervention also matters. Did they choose that intervention for treatment or aesthetic purposes? If aesthetics, how necessary is it in terms of physical and psychological benefits? Other questions should be asked regarding the competence and emotional maturity of the adolescent, potential benefits and harms of the procedure, and family’s role in the decision. Where relevant laws exist, they are applied. However, when there is no regulation nor recommendation from common law, the responsibility for judging adolescents’ decision-making competence is left to health care workers. Our research provides questions that are significant in Islamic ethics as a guideline for health care workers.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.