A new fatwa allowing organ donation for Muslims has been issued in the UK, after years of campaigns to encourage the life-saving operations.
“It was something I wanted to give back, having been on dialysis and the waiting list for a long time,” Amjid Ali, from Bristol, told The BBC.
Ali, who is the NHS lead on the Transplantation in Islam project, began a campaign for the changes in 2013, two years after performing a life-saving kidney transplant operation.
NHS figures show that 17% of people on the transplant waiting list are of Asian origin. However, less than 2% of Asian people are on the organ donor register.
In 2013, he led a conference with 56 scholars, organizations, imams and chaplains about the issue.
“Many Muslims feel [organ donation] is not in line with their faith,” said Mr Ali, who is the NHS lead on the Transplantation in Islam project.
“They needed an authoritative religious figure to be able to give them the satisfaction that they’ve researched the subject in such a way that covers all of the key points around the permissibility of organ donation.”
Two fatwas were issued in 1995 and 2000 but were aimed at Arab Muslims. Now another, for the Sunni community, has also been issued.
Scholar Mufti Mohammed Zubair Butt issued the new fatwa, saying he hoped the move would help to “serve as a catalyst” for change.
The Fatwa states,
The use of prostheses is permissible.
The transplant of pure animal organs and tissue is permissible, but the transplant of impure animal organs and tissue is not permitted unless there is no permissible alternative.
Replant and autotransplant of human organs and tissue is permissible.
Living/altruistic organ donation is permissible provided harm to the donor is negligible or relatively minor that it does not disrupt the life of the donor.
Organ donation after circulatory determination of death (DCDD) is permissible provided the point of elective irreversibility has lapsed.
Organ donation after neurological determination of death (DDDB) following complete and irreversible loss of brain function, is permitted only once the point of elective irreversibility has lapsed and the heart has stopped.
Deceased organ donation and transplantation of all organs/tissues besides the gonads is permissible.
It is permitted to donate stem cells from adult tissue, tissue of a minor with parental permission, cord blood, a miscarried foetus, a foetus aborted for a reason valid in sharīʿa, and a surplus embryo incidental to the process of IVF. However, stem cells obtained through therapeutic cloning are not permitted.
Mufti Butt said: “I sincerely hope that this fatwa will bring some clarity on a variety of widely held concerns around the permissibility of organ donation and transplantation and will serve as a catalyst for Imams, Muslim chaplains and scholars to discuss the issue amongst themselves and with their congregations and audiences.”
The discussions of and fatwas issued by Muslim religious scholars in the Muslim world on organ donation proved to be an essential component of the fatwas issued for Muslims living in the West.
A fatwa on organ transplant by Dr. Jasser Auda, Dr. Jamal Badawi and reviewed by Dr. Aasim Padela, read: “The Fiqh Council agrees with many individual scholars and national and international fatwa councils in considering organ donation and transplantation to be Islamically permissible in principle.
“All fatwas that have allowed transplantation have allowed donation as well. Done with a good intention, organ donation may be regarded as a rewarded act of charity.”
Several fatwas agree that both life and cadaveric organ donations are in principle permitted in Islam, on condition it is done for free.
None of the fatwas stated that this standpoint would change if the recipient or the donor was a non-Muslim.