ORGAN DONATION IN ISLAM : To Be or Not To Be !!
It is strange not the less but saddening the more to know that there is an "Islamic" narrative against the noble act of organ donation. This is one of the reasons of many Muslims' minddset against organ donation, specially in Indo-Pak-Bangladesh subcontinent where thousand die for want of organs. In this article we will see why that narrative is not only unethical and inhuman but also against the Quran. We will briefly look at its Islamic aspect in three parts (A) opposition, (B) support, and (C) complexity.
These are the main arguments of opponents on organ donation:-
(1) Human body is only an AMANA (kind of Trust-Property) from God, He is its owner of our bodies since He created us. That is why we have no right to commit suicide or donate any parts of our bodies dead or alive.
(2) Prophet (S) is reported to have said that "breaking bones of the dead and the living are the same" – Sunan Abu Dawud Hadith 3201.
(3) The Prophet (S) said "Do not disrespect the dead because it injures the alive" – Sahi Tirmidhi Hadith 1989.
(4) When her hair fell due to illness a woman asked the Messenger (S) if she could wear a someone else’s hair (wig) he forbade it – Sahi Bukhari Volume 7 Hadith 817, 818 and 824.
Therefore, normally the use of another person's organs and the mutilation of human bodies living or dead are forbidden. Some Alims say that “this can be done in limited cases by the responsible authorities for research and training…….otherwise the human body will become a commercial commodity, then the vile business of killing living people will be carried out” – At-Tahreek, February 2010.
That means countless people may die but what the Holy Book says will sustain. Because of this inhumanity, the Muslim world generally rejects this theory. There are three gaps in the opposition theory. Opposition to organ donation is directly contrary to the Quran, see "Support" section below.
First, the hard reality is ignored that we do make the decision to mutilate the body to save life, just as we cut off gangrenous limbs.
Second, the fact that countless dying people would be saved by transplanting organs from the dead or alive has been ruthlessly ignored. Islamic scholar Dr. Hashim Kamali named such fanatic pursuit of religion “Literalism”, Prison of Letters - "Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence" pp. 201, 219 and 223. Nuclear energy can be used to make electricity, life-saving drugs, etc., and atomic bombs the sole purpose of which is mass murder. So is religion, its shining example being the Islamic discourse for and against organ donation. Which of the two is better?
Third, the proposition that the human body would become a commercial commodity through human trafficking is baseless as this is illegal and it is a crime like many others which can be controlled by law enforcement.
Experts say "thousands of people die every year due to lack of kidney donors" -said Professor Habibur Rahman, Proctor and Head of Renal Transplant Department, BSM Medical University Bangladesh.
Now the question remains, shall we be imprisoned by the scriptures of the Holy Book, or will the main spirit of religion be in favor of human welfare?
Organ donation means saving lives. Allah has given so much emphasis to saving human lives that even eating pork and uttering kufr (utterance of abandoning or insulting Islam, reviling Allah and Prophet (S) is allowed in Islam to save one's life.
(1) Ma'ida 32 - "He who saves one's life saves the life of all".
(2) Nahl 106:- "Whoever denies God after his faith and keeps his heart open to disbelief, upon him will fall the wrath of God and for him is great punishment; but not for him who is compelled to disbelief but whose heart is in faith steadfast” - Islamic Foundation. The famous Mufti Taqi Usmani explains - "If someone's life is in danger, if he is threatened and knows that he will be killed if he does not utter the words of Kufr, then he is permissible. If he utters it, it will be forgiven. The condition is that his heart remains steadfast in faith".
(3) Maida 3:- Pork is forbidden. But the same verse also says - "But if one is compelled by hunger without the inclination to sin, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful". The explanation is "Here it is permitted to eat the mentioned haram food in the last stage of hunger……..that is to eat no more than what is necessary to save life" - Tafseer Ahsanul Bayan.
For these reasons the Muslim world is accepting organ donation. Allah has given us many things and the freedom to use or misuse them. Without this freedom, the judgment of the hereafter becomes meaningless. Many experts, including Dr. Zakir Naik, say that organs of dead bodies can be donated. For a living person, an organ can be donated under three conditions: (a) no physical harm to the donor, (b) the organ is beneficial to the recipient, not for profit or hobby, (c) there is no financial transaction involved.
It should be noted that research is going on to make artificial blood and organs. Once it succeeds, taking organs from the human body will not be necessary.
(C) COMPLEXITY. Many Muslims feel unconfortable with this development.
1. January 2022- David Bennett was too sick to receive a heart by conventional method; a pig’s heart was transplanted into his body in Maryland Hospital. Quote :- "Bennett was recovering well after the heart transplant. He spent time with family members, attended physiotherapy, enjoyed concerts, and even took regular walks with his pet dog, Lucky"- The Daily Inqilab, March 10, 2022. He died two months later of another illness - https://www.bbc.com/bengali/news-59947868
2. New York University surgeons transplanted two pig hearts into two brain-dead men - July 13, 2022 - https://zeenews.india.com/bengali/health/new-york-university-surgeons-two-pig-heart-transplants-succeed-in-brain-dead-recipients_437252.html
3. This is very interesting. "Ibn Abbas said, the Messenger (PBUH) said: "You will meet Allah naked and uncircumcised walking barefoot" - Sahih Bukhari - Volume VIII Hadith 531, Volume I 115, Volume II 226, Volume IV 568 and 656, Volume VI 149 and 264, seventh volume 735 and eighth volume 237, 531, 532, 533 and 534.
That means people will rise with their bodies in the hereafter. We know that the punishment and reward after death are body-dependent, such as hell fire and the food and drink of heaven.
Now, suppose the kidney of a murderer-rapist is transplanted in a Muslim saint, or the kidney of a Muslim is transplanted to a murderer-rapist. According to Islam the murderer-rapist will go to hell and the Muslim saint will go to heaven.
Q - Where will that kidney go?