• Intercultural communication

    Intercultural and interreligious aspects in medical care

    The process of globalization set in motion migrational movements which cause an increasing degree of cultural diversity, especially in the so-called Western countries. This is reflected in the whole of society but particularly in medical care, as there is required a high degree of cross-cultural understanding in dealing with different patients. However, a good dialogue between doctor and patient, not only contributes to a better mutual understanding but perhaps to better diagnosis and better compliance of the patient. A constructive interdisciplinary discourse between philosophy, medicine, economics, engineering and nursing has to deal with the question of how ethical considerations in dealing with patients can be adequately addressed. Therefore it must also develop concepts for the management of complex cross-cultural situations.


    Fischer, Nils: Der Status des Embryos im Islam. Sankt Augustin, Berlin: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, 2014.

    Fischer, Nils: “Organspende und Transplantationsmedizin: Ein Problem für deutsche Muslime?” Spectrum 25 (2013) 3: 33–35. PDF

    Fischer, Nils: „Muslimische Patienten im Krankenhaus.“ Spectrum 24 (2012) 3: 50–51. PDF

    Rose, Christina / Fischer, Nils: “Managing cultural diversity in medical care.” In: International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) (ed.): 18th IFAC World Congress, August 28–September 2, 2011, Milan. 18 vols. Red Hook, NY : Curran, 2011: Vol. 4, 4028–4033. HTML

  • Human embryo research

    Human embryo research in Islam and in the States of North Africa and the Middle East

    Human embryo research is being carried out in several Islamic states in the Middle East, for example in Iran and Turkey, where for some time now, research programmes have been successfully established. These developments raise the question of how embryo research is viewed by Islam. In general, Islam is thought of as being tolerant of human embryo research. Indeed, a positive view of embryo research prevails among Islamic religious scholars and in tht national and international Islamic law councils. Although legal opinions according to Islamic religious law permit human embryo research this does not, however, mean that there are no restrictions.


    Fischer, Nils: Der Status des Embryos im Islam. Sankt Augustin, Berlin: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, 2014.

    Fischer, Nils: “Reproductive cloning in Islam: The debate and the arguments.” Newsletter of the Stem Cell Network North Rhine Westphalia (16th December 2009). HTML

    Fischer, Nils: “Embryo research in the Middle East.” Journal of international biotechnology law 6 (2009) 6: 235–241. PDF

    Fischer, Nils: “Therapeutic cloning according to Islamic Law.” Newsletter of the Stem Cell Network North Rhine Westphalia (30th September 2009). HTML

    Fischer, Nils: “The legal situation regarding human embryo research in selected Islamic states in the Near and Middle East.” Newsletter of the Stem Cell Network North Rhine Westphalia (26th June 2009). HTML

    Fischer, Nils: “Human embryo research under Islamic law.” Newsletter of the Stem Cell Network North Rhine Westphalia (2nd March 2009). HTML

  • National bioethics committees

    National bioethics committees in the states of North Africa and the Middle East

    Since the 1990s the UNESCO and the WHO are involved in the internationalization of the bioethics debate. As a consequence of its bioethics declarations especially the UNESCO encourages the establishment of national bioethics committees (NBC). Therefore most of the North African and the Middle Eastern states created national bioethics committees. Some of these NBC are closely connected to the national UNESCO committees. And some of them took an active position in the national bioethics debates. The NBC of the region have decided to cooperate and organize regular meetings. The first meeting took place in May 2007 in Cairo.


    Fischer, Nils: “National bioethics committees in selected States of North Africa and the Middle East.” Journal of international biotechnology law 5 (2008) 2: 45–58. PDF

  • Organ transplantation

    Organ transplantation in Islam and in the states of North Africa and the Middle East

    Organ transplantation is a standard surgery in the Islamic states of North Africa and the Middle East. Nervertheless the total figures of transplantations are low, exept for the numbers of renal transplantation. There are multiple reasons, although the Islamic religious scholars opinion on organ transplantation is relatively uniform. The majority of scholars judges organ transplantation as permitted by Sharia law and accepts brain death as reliable sign for the diagnosis of death. Organ trade, financial incentives for organ donation and severe health impairment in regard to living donors are considered as prohibited by Sharai law. The Islamic religious scholars emphasise that organ donation should be based on a voluntary decision, and that brain death should be unanimously diagnosed by several doctors. Only a minority judges organ transplantation as categorically prohibited, and another minority judges that financial incentives are allowed by Sharia law. In regard to the situation in Egypt local Islamic religious scholars have determined the conditions for the permission of organ transplantation according to the Islamic law already in the 1960s. Despite of a long and heated debate there is no legal regulation of organ transplantation in Egypt.

    In Islam

    Fischer, Nils: “Die Frage nach der Zulässigkeit und ethischen Bewertung der Organspende aus islamischer Sicht.” In: Niederschlag, Heribert; Proft, Ingo (ed.): Wann ist der Mensch tot? Diskussion um Hirntod, Herztod und Ganztod. Ostfildern: Matthias Grünewald Verlag, 2012 (Ethische Herausforderungen in Medizin und Pflege, 3): 51–75.


    Fischer, Nils: “Egypt’s draft laws on organ transplantation.” Journal of international biotechnology law 6 (2009) 4: 168–172. PDF

    Fischer, Nils: “Die rechtliche Kontroverse über die Organtransplantation in Ägypten.” INAMO 15 (2009) 57: 31–35. PDF


    Fischer, Nils: “Brüder im Islam - auch bei Organversagen.” Zenith 11 (2009) 3: 60-61. PDF

  • Prenatal human life

    When clarifying the moral and legal status of prenatal human life it is necessary to answer some fundamental bioethical questions, such as whether abortion should be allowed, and whether research should be conducted by using human embryos. The issues related to these questions are hotly debated in the Islamic societies. The debate resorts to the religious sources of Islam (the Koran and the Prophetic Tradition) and the classical positions of the scholars of the classical Islamic schools of law but also to the positions of contemporary Islamic scholars. While the classic texts must be read in the light of ancient and medieval natural philosophy and its theories of reproduction and prenatal development, contemporary texts are influenced by the findings of modern medicine and life sciences. The attempt to bring these two traditions together results in different solutions.


    Fischer, Nils: Der Status des Embryos im Islam. Sankt Augustin, Berlin: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, 2014.

    Fischer, Nils: Islamische Positionen zum pränatalen Leben. Freiburg, München: Alber, 2012 (Ethik in den Biowissenschaften – Sachstandsberichte des DRZE, 14).

  • Cloning

    Cloning in Islam and in the States of North Africa and the Middle East

    The success in cloning at the end of the 90’s led to a extensive discussion in the Islamic world among Islamic jurists. Reproductive cloning is at the center of the debate, in particular at the end of 2002 when the Raëlian sect announced that it had cloned a human being for the first time ever. Therapeutic cloning is mainly considered benevolently by the jurists. Islamic jurists have looked into reproductive cloning in great detail and have elaborated on the legal arguments for and against it. The majority of Islamic jurists object to it as being irreconcilable with Islamic law, primarily because it leads to ambiguity in legitimate parentage (nasab). Some see it as heresy or atheism, such as in the declaration in 2003 by the Muslim World League (MWL). However, a number of Shi’ite jurists consider it allowable in certain cases. Although this debate is extremely interesting, the following is not meant to go into these aspects, but instead to focus on therapeutic cloning. As vehemently as reproductive cloning is judged by Islamic religious scholars, therapeutic cloning, by contrast, is viewed much more positively. Islamic jurists often emphasize in their legal opinions and statements that Islam is a religion which welcomes rather than hinders scientific progress. In their judgement of new medicinal curative and treatment methods they show themselves to be very open and emphasize the priority of human life in comparison to other principles.

    Fischer, Nils: “Therapeutic cloning according to Islamic Law.” Newsletter of the Stem Cell Network North Rhine Westphalia (30th September 2009). HTML

  • Health protection

    Health protection in Islam and in Islamic states

    Tobacco control

    Tobacco control is one of the major health issues in the states of North Africa and the Middle East over the past years. The majority of the states in the region have joined the World Health Organization’s (WHO) initiative to reduce the harmful effects of smoking and they have signed and ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). They have issued smoking bans, advertising, sales and marketing restrictions already in the 1990s. But also Muslim religious scholars argue in their fatwas against smoking since the 1980s. Even when they don’t prohibit smoking according to Islamic law, they condemn the unrestrained consumption of tobacco. Despite of the governmental and religious initiatives tobacco consumption is widely spread and high, especially amongst the male population. Furthermore water pipe smoking came into fashion amongst young people and women in the last years. Therefore Turkey issued a strikt smoking ban which came into force in July 2009.


    Fischer, Nils: “Islamisierung hinter der Rauchwand.” Zenithonline (Culture and society, published on 8 October 2009). HTML


    Cleanliness is emphasised in Islam and already the Koran provides fundamental guidelines on ritual purification, which are expressed, for example, in sura 5, verse 6 and sura 4, verse 43. But especially in compendiums of the Prophet’s words there are countless writings handed down on ritual purification and on the question of when a Muslim is ritually impure and how the respective state of impurity can be suspended. The statement “Wash yourself, for Islam is cleanliness!” was traditionally uttered by the Prophet Mohammed.


    Fischer, Nils: “‘Wash yourself, for Islam is cleanliness!’ Hygiene, grooming and ritual purification in Islam.” In: Leismann, Burkhard; Padberg, Martina (ed.): Intimacy! Bathing in art. Köln: Wienand, 2010: 288–293.

  • Female circumcision

    Female circumcision in Islam and in the states of the Middle East

    Although the majority of Islamic religious scholars does neither consider female circumcision as a religious duty nor as Islamic custom, it is nevertheless prevalent in many Islamic states in Africa and the Middle East. Amongst these states is also Egypt, where female circumcision is widely practiced, although the Azhar University, the Egyptian government and national and international NGOs struggle against it since decades.


    Fischer, Nils: “Das zähe Ringen um ein Verbot der Frauenbeschneidung.” INAMO 14 (2008) 55: 37–43. PDF

  • Muslims in outer space

    Some Islamic States have space programmes and some of them also sent spacemen to outer space. This shows first of all that theses states are highly interested in scientific progress and space research. But when Muslim spacemen travel to outer space the question arises how they should adhere to the Islamic religious rites in outer space. Since Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s space flight in 1985 Islamic religious scholars deal with this question and have issued fatwas. However most of the Muslim spacemen have solved this problem intuitively. Therefore the Malaysian Space Organisation (ANGKASA) provided Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor with the “Guideline for performing Islamic rites at the International Space Station (ISS)” in 2006.


    Fischer, Nils: “Die afghanische Weltraummission. Islam in outer space, Teil II.” INAMO 16 (2010) 61: 68–69. PDF-

    Fischer, Nils: “Mit dem Koran in den Himmel.” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 60 (3. November 2008) 257: 40 (Feuilleton). HTML

    Fischer, Nils: “Islamic religious practice in outer space.” ISIM review (2008) 22: 39. PDF

    Fischer, Nils: “Richtlinie für die Ausübung islamischer Kulthandlungen im Weltall.” INAMO 14 (2008) 54: 64–66. PDF

Nils Fischer

Main fields of research

Themes: Communication and ethics of migration

Themes: Moral and legal status of the embryo, pregnancy and termination of pregnancy, human embryonic stemcell research, therapeutic and reproductive cloning, in-vitro-fertilisation and female circumcision

Themes: Institutionalised ethics (national bioethics committees, research ethics committees and hospital ethics commitees), termination of pregnancy, health protection, organ donation and transplantation

Themes: Ethics, mysticism and metaphysics
Authors: Ibn Sina, Averroes, al-Ghazali und Ibn Tufail


Studies in philosophy, Islamic sciences, Arabic and Persian in Bonn , Tehran and Damascus . Employments at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Otto Warburg Senior Research Professur , 2011), at the Institut für Wissenschaft und Ethik e. V. (IWE, Universität Bonn, 2003–2010) and at Universität Bonn (Lehr- und Forschungsbereich II , Philosophisches Seminar, 1998–2003). Since 2012 at Lehrstuhl Ethik, Theorie und Geschichte der Medizin at Philosophisch-Theologischen Hochschule Vallendar (PTHV).


Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule Vallendar
Postfach 1406
56174 Vallendar
email: post (at)