#23: Tissue and Organ Donation

Question:

What is the ruling of donating organs and tissue? Is it considered as hurting or abusing the corpse?

Answer:

Some scholars are of the opinion that organ donation is haram (prohibited). Among them who hold this opinion are Syeikh Mutawalli al-Sya’rawi[1], Syeikh Ahmad bin Ahmad al-Khalili[2], Syeikh ‘Abd al-Salam Rahim al-Sukkari[3], Sayyid Muhammad Qutbuddin[4] and Syeikh Sharif Muhammad ‘Abd al-Qadir.[5] Whereas some scholars and fatwa institutions worldwide such as Islam Religious Committee Singapore, Grand Scholars Committee Saudi Arabia, Kuwait Fatwa Committee, Majma’ al-Fiqh al-Islami, Majma’ al-Fiqh al-Islami al-Hind, The Islamic Shariah Council UK including Malaysia [6] ruled it permissible.[7]

Among the scholars who ruled it permissible is Syeikh Hasanain Makhlouf, Syeikh Jad al-Haq ‘Ali Jad al-Haq [8], Syeikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di, Syeikh Ibrahim al-Ya’qubi [9], Dr Ahmad Sharafuddin [10], Dr Rauf al-Shalabi (he ruled it permissible on the condition that the donor of the organ or body parts is still alive) [11], Dr Abd al-Jalil Shalabi (in his opinion it is obligatory) [12], Dr Mahmud ‘Ali al-Sartawi [13] and Dr Hashim Jamil Abdullah. [14]

According to the records, the fatwa on the permissibility of the removal and donating organs are issued by Perlis (1965), Sarawak (1996), Selangor (2000), Johor (2001) and Penang (2010). Whereas, when I was the Mufti of the Federal Territories, I’ve already issued my opinion regarding the ruling of this issue in Bayan Linnas “Organ Donation (2015), Al-Kafi Li Al-Fatawi 528: The Ruling of Accepting blood and Organ Donation from Non-Muslims (2017) and Bayan Linnas Series 176: Updated Opinion on the Ruling of Organ and Tissue Donation (2019).”

Just as the opinion I issued when I was still the Mufti of Federal Territories previously, I still hold onto the opinion that it is permissible and encouraged to donate organs and tissues. With the current advancement in medicine, then we think that it is necessary to add the organs which are permissible to be donated such as kidneys, heart, liver, lungs and pancreas as well as tissues that can be donated such as the cornea, bones, skin and heart valves. However, it is prohibited to donate or transplant the testis or uterus for it is closely related to one’s lineage. Allah SWT states:

وَتَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْبِرِّ وَالتَّقْوَى وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ

“And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression.” [15]

If we adopt the methodology “مَا أُبِينَ مِنْ حَيٍّ؛ فَهُوَ كَميْتَتِه” which means “Everything that is cut/separated from the living is ruled as carcass” and considered the organs as najis, then the ruling of undergoing treatment using najis is forgiven and the prayer is valid as stated in the opinion of Imam al-Nawawi [16]. Concurrently, the majority of fuqaha’ hold the opinion that the children of Adam are pure regardless of whether they are alive or dead. [17] Imam al-Suyuti issued a methodology:

الإيثار في القرب مكروه وفي غيرها محبوب

“Prioritizing others in the matters of worship is makruh and in other affairs, it is a commendable matter.” [18]

This is in accordance with the statement of Allah SWT:

وَيُؤْثِرُونَ عَلَى أَنْفُسِهِمْ وَلَوْ كَانَ بِهِمْ خَصَاصَةٌ

“…even though they are in privation.” [19]

Hence, it can be concluded that based on the above methodology, organ donation is included as a commendable act. The source of the permissibility of organ donation is also in accordance with several fiqh legal maxims, which are:

  1. Al-Umur bi maqasidiha (الأُمُوْرُ بِمَقَاصِدِهَا) – Every matter is based on its purpose.
  2. Al-Darar yuzal(الضَّرَرُ يُزَال) – Harm should be removed.
  3. Al-Mashaqqah tajlib al-taysir(المَشَقَّةُ تَجْلِبُ التَّيْسِيْر) – Difficulty leads to ease.

Regarding the surgery performed on the corpse of a deceased which is characterized as abuse or torture on the deceased, this is based on the hadith:

إِنَّ كَسْرَ عَظْمِ الْمَيِّتِ مَيْتًا، كَمِثْلِ كَسْرِهِ حَيًّا

“Breaking a deceased body’s bones is exactly like breaking them when he is alive.” [20]

It should be understood that organ transplant isn’t just performed without any purpose or any benefit. Consequently, it is performed as a final option in order to save the life of another patient in desperate need. Furthermore, protecting life is one of the maqasid shariah. The restriction stated isn’t considered in this context when there is an exigent need which is of a much greater priority which is to save lives. Organ transplant performed when there is no other alternative is to save the life of another patient.

At the same time, with the development of science and today’s technology, maybe the time has come to study other alternatives such as artificial organs or transplanting organs from animals for it is better than taking the right of another human. The reason is avoiding khilaf is sunnah and encouraged. Wallahua’lam.

 

[1] Akhbar al-Siyasah (Kuwait) on 15th May 1989

[2] Akhbar ‘Amman pada 25th August 1989

[3] Naql wa Zira’ah al-A’dha’ al-Adamiah min Manzur Islami, p. 16.

[4] Keynote address at the First International Seminar of Islamic Medicine in Kuwait in 1981 titled Qawa’id wa Adab al-Tibb al-Islami, p. 429

[5]  Zar’ al-A’dha’wa Hukmuhu fi al-Syariah al-Islamiyyah, p. 2

[6] See Pemindahan Organ dari Perspektif Islam, p. 24-26. Download from https://www.ummc.edu.my/files/HealthPhamplet/Pemindahan_Organ_IslamBM.pdf

[7] Refer to the decision of al-Majma ’al-Fiqhi, Rabitah al-‘Alam al-Islami in Mecca at the 8th Conference, 1408 AH; Al-Majma ’al-Fiqh, Munazzamah al-Mu’tamar al-Islami in Jeddah in 1408 AH; Hai’ah Kibar al-‘Ulama ’in Riyadh in the 99th fatwa, in 1402 AH, Lajnah al-Ifta’, Majlis al-Islami al-A’la in Algeria in 1392 AH. See al-Buhuth al-Islamiyyah Magazine 22nd edition (1408 AH).

[8] Naql al-A’dha’ min Insan li Akhar in Journal al-Azhar, No. 9, Ramadhan 1403H

[9] Syifa’ al-Tabarih wa al-Adawat fi Hukm al-Tasyrih wa Naql al-A’dha’.

[10] al-Ahkam al-Syar’iyyah li al-A’mal al-Tibbiyyah, p. 128

[11] Akhbar al-Syarq al-Awsat, no. 3725, Wednesday (8th February 1989)

[12] Akhbar al-Syarq al-Awsat, no. 3725, Wednesday (8th February 1989)

[13] Jurnal Dirasat, vol. 12, no. 3, Jamadil Akhir 1405H with the title Zar’ al-A’dha’ fi al-Syari’ah al-Islamiyyah

[14] Jurnal al-Risalah al-Islamiyyah, no. 212, p. 69.

[15] Surah al-Ma’idah: 2

[16] Al-Majmūʿ Sharḥ al-Muhadhdhab, 3/145

[17] Al-Majmūʿ Sharḥ al-Muhadhdhab, 2/57

[18] Al-Ashbāh wa al-Naẓā’ir, 116

[19] Surah al-Hashr: 9

[20] Hadith narrated by Ahmad, no. 25645

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