- Bioethics in Azerbaijan:History and Development of Bioethics in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan is a unique country with a centuries-old culture and history; it is a country located at the junction of Europe and Western Asia, uniting economic and cultural relationships between two continents and harmoniously combining the elements of various civilisations and cultures. Peculiarities of the historical development of Azerbaijan and its geographical location, as well as the ethnic composition of the population created an opportunity for the flourishing of various religions. Idolatry, fire worship, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and other religions were spread in the country during different periods. The multinational and confessional state (also known as a multicultural state), with its unique cultural inheritance, provided the opportunity not only to adhere to traditions and customs of previous generations, but also to develop spiritual-moral values that created respect and tolerance towards other religions. As a result of this cultural synthesis throughout the centuries, universal ethical values such as respecting the dignity of all persons, veneration of elderly people by youth, and principals of mercy, care and love to those in need and in the closing stages of life evolved. Numerous sources of ancient manuscripts bear witness that poetry, philosophy and the ethics of medical practice have always been part of the searching and thinking in medicine.
One of the ancient religions, Zoroastrianism, begins from fire worship and was revealed to the religious teacher and prophet Zoroaster (seventh century BC, Holy Book Zend-Avesta). According to the basic understandings of Zoroastrianism, there are two principles which are always contradictory—Kindness and Evil. [End Page 433] Zoroaster called upon people to be fair and pure, to fight any kind of unfairness and disgracefulness.
The name of the healer Logman is covered with legends and is well known among different nations of the East. Across generations in Azerbaijan the name Logman has been used, inspiring the sharing of medical secrets and advice, cure of different illnesses and their prevention.1 This is witnessed by the Logman Covenants. The first covenant warns of excessive consumption of alcohol and food, educating people in hygienic practices and developing that culture. Another covenant is dedicated to the high mission of the medic: “Every kindness on this planet created people. The kind beginning is there where you have a doctor.”
The basic principles of humanitarian behaviour of the doctor have also been described in an ancient manuscript of Azerbaijani literature, the national epic “Kitabi-Dede Qorqud” (seventh century), which provides advice on how to maintain one’s health in good condition, and the importance of spiritual purity, health and morals.
Outstanding philosophers, poets and scientists of the ancient land of Azerbaijan, such as Bakhmaniyar ibn Marzaban (eleventh century), Omar Osmanoglu (eleventh century), Khatib Tabrizi (1030–1109), Khagani (1120–99), Nizami Ganjavi (1141–1209), Nakchivani (thirteenth century), Makhmud Shabustari (1287–1320), Seid YakhyaBakuvi (1410–62), Fizuli (1498–1556), Vagif (1717–97) and many others, described in their doctrines the difficult, selfless activities of doctors and the positive results and outcomes.6
Back in the eleventh2 century, when madrasas or spiritual schools, where theology and medicine were taught and, ecclesiastics and tabibs (medics) were prepared and educated, a medical school was established in Azerbaijan’s old capital Shamakha. Here, under the guidance of the most famous doctor and pharmacologist in all the East, Omar Osman oglu, training and education of medical workers took place. Having been widely educated, Omar Osman oglu was an adherent of the moral principles declared by Logman and taught his students that the main goal of any doctor’s activities should be based on love towards the other person. His understanding of a medic’s behaviour was contrary to major customs of that time, saying: “Don’t deny your enemy. Heal him.” Omar Osman oglu inspired his students to undertake spiritual pureness, patriotism and service to the nation. “Bring benefit to the nation, even if it is contrary with your personal benefit”, “do not be egotistical”, “do not try to find your way to heaven and do not be afraid of hell” were his slogans.
The famous poet Khagani (1120...