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Donating human organs! An Islamic perspective

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How does Islam feel about organ donation? My father is very sick and he needs a liver transplant soon or he will die. He is on a very long list of recipients and there is nothing we can do, except wait for an organ donor to pass away so my father can get his liver. Watching him suffer, I have started to think about becoming an organ donor. If I can help save someone’s life and ease the pain of someone’s family, I would like to do so. The only thing stopping me is that I am completely clueless as to Islam’s take on the issue. I have heard that majority of muslim clerics are against organ donation. Infact,i was quite surprised to know that these muslim clerics agree to have organs from someone else but dont agree to donate their own. I need your help on this topic.


There is no specific directive in the Shari`ah which prohibits the donation of organs. Therefore, decision regarding such an act shall lie in the ambit of ijtehad.

The matter has to be dealt with from two perspectives. Firstly, when a living person donates any of his organs to another; and secondly when a person leaves a will that any one or more of his organs be donated to anyone in need, after his death.

Let us consider the first case. Some scholars believe that donation of an organ by a living person is not correct. They say that a man does not own his body. Our body is a gift from our Creator and we are liable to return it to Him in the best possible condition. Therefore, donating any part of our body should not be allowed.

In our opinion, this line of reasoning is not correct. Our Creator has endowed us with all that we have so that we use it in the best possible manner. This is the very essence of the test that man is put to in the life of this world. Donating an organ, like for instance a kidney, may save a human life. There cannot be a better use of any of our endowments than to save a human life(Surah Maidah 5 verse 32). Such an act is of so great a moral value that it can only be termed as prohibited if a clear directive of the Shari`ah prohibits it. After all, there is a great potential of harming the body while taking part in Jihad. But the great moral value of fighting for a just cause is the obvious justification that not only removes any prohibition of taking part in Jihad, but also qualifies it as one of the biggest good deeds.

As far as the second case is concerned, some scholars adhere to the opinion that donation of organs is prohibited, because they compare such an action with deforming of the human corpse. Obviously deforming of the human corpse is not only an immoral act but also an infringement on the rights of a dead brother/sister. The Arabs used to deform the bodies of their enemies, who were killed in the battlefields, as a sign of disgrace and disrespect toward it. The Prophet (pbuh) considering it an immoral act strongly condemned it. The practice was subsequently abolished.

Nevertheless, it is quite obvious that the practice of disgracing a human corpse is by no means comparable to donating any organ. Donating an organ for helping another human being is not just a noble thing to do but is infact a sign of love and respect for the person to whom the organ is being donated. Such an act seems not only to be devoid of any disrespectful intentions toward the dead, but instead stems from the motive of serving the humankind. Therefore, there appears to be no reason to derive the prohibition of donating organs from the prohibition of deforming human bodies as a show of enmity and disrespect toward the dead.

Keeping all the above arguments in perspective donating human organs cannot in anyway be termed as prohibited.All thinking and conscientious muslims should come forward and register themselves as organ donors to show the world that a muslim saves lives not take them.

May Allah show us the truth


UIUK team

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