Organ Transplants


I would like to know the view regarding “Organ Donation”  is it permissible for Muslims  or mankind on the whole to partake in this (since our body is  loaned to us from Allah and it is not for us to do as we wished with it).


According to the Jeddah Fiqh Council the Four Schools do agree that, under certain conditions, organ transplant is permissible, for example, from a dead person to someone who hopes to live, according to the fundamental principle that “The living are more deserving of concern than the dead.”  There are other permissible scenarios also, and Allah Most High knows best.

A notable exception to that permissibility was voiced by the later Moroccan authority Shaykh `Abd Allah al-Ghumari in his fatwa entitled Ta`rif Ahl al-Islam bi-anna Naql al-`Udwi Haram, categorically prohibiting organ transplants, and he followed it up with other medical fatwas. He argumed against the permissive interpretation of certain jurisprudential principles such as “Necessities make the prohibitions permissible.”

A Prophetic hadith about the signs of the Hour mentions the qatal-arhaam, usually translated as the severing of family ties, but literally meaning the cutting of the uterus as in hysterectomy, which has become routine in our times as well as unnecessary caesarean sections which surgically cut into the uterus to deliver the baby, often to fit the delivery into the physician’s golfing schedule or the mother’s schedule. There is now even intrauterine surgery on the fetus, a lot of this for unnecessary reasons. Recently, in Saudi Arabia, the first attempt at a uterine transplant took place as described in an article by W. Fageeh et al. in the International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics 76 (2002) p. 245-251.

A common vital reason for organ transplant is for cases of hepatitis C. In the USA alone, an estimated 2.7 million people are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which has become the most common reason for liver transplantation and has been called the silent epidemic in numerous articles in the news media, according to The New England Journal of Medicine Vol. 341 No. 12 (September 16, 1999).

A few years ago, BICNews posted an article entitled “On Ethics and Embryo Research” which appears to be taken from the New York Times of Sunday, June 13, 1999 and which bore on the transplant of tissues grown from embryo stem.

The article said:

Recent research suggests that human embryos may be an ideal source of ‘stem cells,’ which can be grown into replacement tissues for transplantation into people with chronic diseases, whose own cells are dying. Scientists want to collect these cells from embryos that are to be discarded by fertility clinics. Since 1995, however, [the US] Congress has banned the use of federal funds for research in which human embryos are destroyed. This ban has so far precluded the vast majority of academic scientists from pursuing human stem cell research. Now that may change. In a report to be released this month, the presidentially appointed National Bioethics Advisory Commission will recommend that Congress ease its embryo research ban to allow federally funded stem cell researchers to destroy human embryos donated by parents who have completed their fertility treatments.

The article went on:

The ethics commission held a one-day workshop at Georgetown University last month to hear religious leaders’ opinions about the morality of such research. The speakers did not officially represent their denominations, but their personal comments offer insights into how some of the world’s religions are responding to the prospect of human embryo research.

Excerpts follow:


Abdulaziz Sachedina, professor of Islam in the department of religious
studies, University of Virginia:

The classical formulations based on the Koran and the Tradition provide no universally accepted definition of the term ’embryo.’ Nor do these two foundational sources define the exact moment when the fetus becomes a moral-legal being. [But a] majority of the Sunni and some Shiite scholars make a distinction between two stages in pregnancy divided by the end of the fourth month (120 days), when ensoulment takes place. Hence, in Islam, research on stem cells . . . in the early stages of life is regarded as an act of faith in the ultimate will of God as Giver of all life, as long as such an intervention is undertaken with the purpose of improving human health.

I did not see the brief “Islam on Grafting & Transplanting of Human Organs” by Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi nor Tahir Mahmood et al.’s “Symposium: Organ Transplant, Euthanasia, ‘Right to Die’: Indian and Islamic Legal Responses” in Islamic and Comparative Law Quarterly 7 No. 2 (1987) p. 111–164 but these are in print and should be perused among other further reading.


Hajj Gibril Haddad

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