I am thinking about signing up to donate my organs at the time of my death. Is this permitted under Sharī‘a?

Yes, organ donation is permitted and encouraged by Muslim scholars. In fact, organ donation is legal in the majority of Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iran, to name a few.

In March 2019, the Fiqh Council of North America issued a fatwa that permits and encourages Muslim Americans to sign up as organ donors. The majority of Muslim scholars today permit organ donation after death, as long as the donation is made to save the life of the recipient and the donor had given consent.

The scholars who permit organ donation rely on the overarching Islamic principles of rahmah: mercy, compassion, and caring for one another. They also rely on the Islamic principle of public interest and advancing public health to permit the donation of organs. Most scholars believe such a donation is a sadaqah jariyah—a continuous good deed—that God will reward. They further maintain that saving a life is a necessity and, as such, it constitutes further authority to support the permissibility of organ donation.

Some Muslim scholars permit the donation of internal organs, but not limbs because limb donation is considered mutilation of the body. The scholars that permit organ donation upon death say under these circumstances, organ donation does not mutilate the body, since removing an organ from a dead person is the same as a surgery performed on a living person, with precision and respect to the sanctity of the body. A minority of Muslim scholars prohibit organ donation all together.

Allah knows best.

Use our HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE software to outline your preferences regarding Sharī‘a-compliant organ donation.

Under the Sharī‘a, is a person declared legally dead when they fall into a coma and suffer brain death? Or does Sharī‘a say death occurs only when the heart stops beating?

The Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) is an organization of prominent Muslim American physicians. The IMANA outlines the conditions for which a person may be considered dead:

1. A physician has determined that after a standard examination, a person’s cardiopulmonary function has come to a permanent stop, that is, the body has stopped breathing and the heart has stopped beating; or

2. A specialist physician has determined after standard examination that the function of the brain, including the brain stem, has come to a permanent stop, even if some other organs may continue to show spontaneous activity, that is, brain dead.

Based on this information from the IMANA, it is permissible under the Sharī‘a for death to be declared upon brain death. This opinion is accepted by the majority of Muslim scholars.

Use our HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE software to prepare your own state-specific, legally binding health care directive that is Sharī‘a-compliant and customizable to your situation. You will be able to outline your wishes regarding life support and tube-feeding if you are declared brain dead (permanently unconscious).

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