Three weeks ago, Dr. Muhammad Mohiuddin at the University of Maryland Medical Center, gave a new hope to thousands of heart failure patients in need of organ transplant by using a pig heart, and this has been hailed as a groundbreaking transplant surgery.
The doctor, who is a Muslim himself, was part of the team that carried out the operation to an American man.
As the news went viral, Dr. Mohiuddin pointed out that the successful procedure had triggered a lot of concerns among Muslims due to the prohibition of pork consumption in Islam.
We raised this concern with Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Canada, who gave the following juristic view:
Muslim scholars have different opinions concerning this issue, and they have not arrived at a consensus, given their diverse perspectives.
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One group of scholars completely objected against any use of body parts of pig, describing this as entirely forbidden and unacceptable in Islam.
“They refer to the Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) “Verily, Allah did not ordain a cure for your diseases in the things he has forbidden for you.”
“They base themselves on the majority view that pig is wholly impure and filthy; therefore, its flesh and its body parts are dirty; hence we must shun their use altogether.”
The renowned Muslim scholar added that another group of scholars, including the Maliki school, the Dhahirites, and scholars, including Ibn Taymiyya, Showkani, and Ibn Ashur, have adopted a different stand.
Those scholars do not consider pigs essentially impure.
Referring to this group, sheikh Kutty said, “The golden rule of jurisprudence states, ‘Prohibition is lifted in case of dire necessity.’
“Thanks to this principle, even those who consider pig as wholly filthy have ruled that if using body parts of the pig is the only way to save lives, its use becomes permissible.
“Scholars of al-Azhar have offered the above ruling. They say while the use of body parts of big is haram; however, one may use them to save lives if there are no other alternatives,” he added.
Summing up the whole issue, Sheikh Kutty said that “Transplanting pig hearts are not permissible under normal conditions given that pig and its body parts are wholly impure and cannot be used for treatment. Yet, it is allowed to resort to it to save lives if there are no alternatives.”
“Pig is not different from other animals; its flesh is haram. However, its body parts are not as is the case with the body parts of other animals which we are not allowed to eat. No one objects to their use once cleaned and processed for human use,” he added.