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Donating Organs for Medical Research: Allowed?

18 October, 2016
Q As-salamu `alaykum. Dear scholar, I have a question. I will be pleased if you answer my question that lots of my friends asked me. But I don't have legitimate answer. Is it allowed in Islamic context to donate human organs to medical school so that students can carry out more research on medical science that will be helpful for humanity? Thanks with best regards.

Answer

Wa `alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Brother, thank you for your question that evokes a very important issue.

It seems that you are asking about donating organs after one’s death. Scholars allowed this for some specific reasons.

Responding to your question, Dr. Hatem Al-Hajj, Dean of Shari`ah Academy of America, stated,

This question probably pertains to donating organs after death for the purpose of learning. In this case, please, see the following fatwa of the Islamic Fiqh Assembly of the Muslim World League:

“Dissecting Bodies after Death

Session Date: Saturday Safar 24th – 28th, Wednesday 1408 A.H. / October 17th – 21st, 1987 C.E.

Decision Preamble: All praise be to Allah and peace and blessings be upon the seal of all prophets, Prophet Muhammad, his family, and his Companions.

The council of the Islamic Fiqh Assembly in its tenth session discussed the issue of dissecting bodies after death. After a long discussion and exchanging viewpoints, the council became convinced that the necessities that call for dissections (e.g. autopsies) are so important and that dissection brings about many benefits. Therefore, the council concluded the following:

Decision:

First: Dissecting bodies after death is permissible for one of the following purposes:

  1. To investigate a criminal case to discover the causes of death or the crime committed, when a judge is uncertain and an autopsy is the only way to resolve it.
  2. To investigate diseases that need an autopsy, in order to take preventative measures and to decide on or discover the appropriate medication for such diseases.
  3. To learn and teach medicine, as happens in the faculties of medicine.

Second: For the purpose of learning and teaching medicine, the permissibility of dissecting bodies after death must be governed by the following rules:

  1. If the dead body is that of a known person, it is imperative that permission is given either by the person before his death or by his heirs and it is undesirable to dissect a body whose blood is protected unless it is necessary.
  2. It is imperative that dissecting bodies after death should be kept to the level of necessity, in order not to abuse dead bodies.
  3. The dissection of the bodies of dead women is permissible only by female doctors, unless there are no female doctors available.

Thirdly: In all the cases described above, it is of the utmost necessity to eventually bury all the different parts or organs of the dissected bodies.”

Allah Almighty knows best.