بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن،وَالصَّلاۃ وَالسَّلامُ عَلَی النَّبِیِّ الْکَرِيم وَعَلیٰ آله وَاَصْحَابه اَجْمَعِيْن۔


Sometimes a person’s organ fails and it becomes inevitable according to medical science to transplant someone else’s organ in the patient’s body to keep him/her alive. For example if someone’s kidneys stop functioning permanently the only way to keep such a person alive is through transplantation of a kidney denoted by someone else in the patient’s body. Now we are faced with a question if it is allowed in Islam. Similarly, is it allowed for a Muslim to include it in his will that his organs be donated after his death so that they may be used for others who are suffering from organ failure?

This issue is contemporary as people in the past did nothave any idea of organ transplantation. And therefore, we find no clear injunctions regarding this issue. However, the Quran and Sunnah do certainly provide with a set of general principles that have been helping the scholars to examine new issues and find solutions for the same by applying the method of Ijtihad. Since deducing rulings for such issues depends on Ijtihad or independent scholarly reasoning, difference of opinions between the scholars is inevitable. The article aims at presenting the different scholarly opinions about organ donation without delving into their arguments and the principles they relied on in inferring rulings. There are three opinions found among the scholars on the issue:

(1) Unconditional prohibition i.e. it is forbidden to move an organ from a body to another at all events. (2) Unconditional permission i.e. transplantation of an organ from a body to another is permissible at all events. (3) Conditionally allowed i.e. organ transplantation is permissible when three basic conditions are met: (A) The recipient should be in dire need i.e. he should be in a condition when transplantation is medically inevitable to save his life (2) The donor should donate his organ of his own free will without charging money in return; he should really donate and not sell the organ required. For example, if a person’s both kidneys have failed and his son, wife or brother voluntarily donates one of his kidneys to save the patient’s life, there is nothing wrong in doing so. (C) It shouldn’t be threatening to the donor’s own life.

The majority of the scholars consider it unlawful to buy an organ for transplantation. However, some Ulama allow it when there is no volunteer found and the patient’s life depends on it. However, all agree to the impermissibility of selling organs. It is also very unethical and an abominable crime according to human laws to sell organs and it should be so because if we allow organ sale great disaster will follow it. The horrific stories of people illegally running organ trade in different countries can be seen on the internet.

As said before, lack of clear injunctions in the Quran and the Sunnah regarding the issue has led the scholars to exercising Ijithad hence difference of opinions between themis inevitable.  However, those who see it permissible do so when there is no alternative to the transplantation to save the patient’s life and that the donation should be completely voluntary. Most of the scholars don’t allow buying of organ for the purpose of transplantation. Despite their sympathy for such patients they truly find it contradictory to the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah to buy an organ so save someone else’s life. However, some scholars allow it when no voluntary donor is found.

As for post-death organ donation through a will, it is not permissible according to majority of the scholars. A person does not own his/her bodyhence he/she is not entitled to making such a will. A person is not allowed to commit suicide because life is not in his/her possession. Moreover, Islam enjoins to treat a dead body in a respectful manner and taking out the organs eventually leads to its violation. Then again the hospital usually takes complete possession of the organs when donated and use them for whosoever they want. Sometimes they take bribes from the patients for the organs and the heirs of the deceased donor can do nothing. However, if a person makes a will to the effect that his/her organs be donated, the heirs will not be bound to execute it according to the scholars because the will itself was not valid. Similarly, if a person is declared medically dead but some of his organs are still functioning and the doctors want to preserve his organs, the scholars unanimously say that it is not permissible for the heirs to allow the doctors to do so. As for the excuse of serving humanity, there are numerous ways to do the noble task. It wouldn’t be wise to serve humanity in a way for which we may be questioned in the hereafter.

Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi (