The power of biomedical technology lies not only in treating diseases and relieving pains but in intervening in our bodies at the molecular level in a way that makes us wonder if this amounts to (re-)shaping our very human nature. This raises ethical, philosophical and religious questions related to understanding and identifying our essential humanity and what is "uniquely human" in us, and how far genetic interventions may affect all this. These biomedical developments and their associated philosophical and religious dilemmas shed new light on old questions such as: What makes us distinctively human? Why is human life sacred? When does human life begin? What makes an individual eligible for certain rights? How do the answers to these questions determine the optimal way to deal with human being throughout the various stages of his/her lifespan?
All the previous questions have typically pertained to the classical topic of abortion. However, modern biomedical technology has expanded the possibilities for reproduction in an unprecedented way. This new situation has confronted humans with a new and increasing list of options and alternatives, including "liberal eugenics". These developments have made the decision-making process about these issues quite complex because one's moral world, consisting of basic moral assumptions and convictions, does not always have ready-made and clear-cut answers about these questions. This applies to both the deliberations taking place among of Western philosophers like Habermas and the parallel discussions in the Islamic tradition.
This paper will discuss these questions by first examining the moral status of biomedical technology itself and understanding the different perceptions of its potential among philosophers and Muslim jurists. The paper will then discuss the philosophical and jurisprudential perceptions of human beings and human life and the identification of the key ethical dilemmas raised by modern biomedical technology, as epitomized by genetic intervention.