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Can Muslims donate blood and organs?

Can Muslims donate blood and organs?


Salam. Is it allowed to donate blood or organs. Also, is it allowed to donate organs for transplant to another human when you die? Many thanks

Wa alykum as-salaam,

This question is interesting for two reasons: first, it shows how advanced modern Islamic scholarship is, once it is separated from identity politics; and second, it illustrates how Shariah law is created rather than received by God.

However, before we get to that, let me end the suspense: it is permissible to donate blood, organs, and to transplant organs after your death. There are many scholars who would disagree with this, I am not one of them, and the divide between the scholars is generally that Arab scholars (with some South Asian ones) deem it to be permissible, while most South Asian scholars deem it to be impermissible.

Therefore, as usual, it is really up to you to decide which viewpoint you prefer.

For those who know me, and I may have mentioned this in some of my answers, one of my major issues with modern Islamic scholarship is that those who enter into religious studies, generally are from scientific backgrounds, and thus, approach ascertaining religious knowledge from a scientific standpoint.

Now, to be abundantly clear, I am not saying that science is inherently opposed to Islam, rather, the methodologies used in scientific education is not conducive towards approaching Islamic concepts, particularly those involving society, whether those are abstract metaphysical concepts or philosophical positions regarding public policy.

Thus, when it comes to Fiqh involving social, economic, or political issues, the sophistication of modern scholarship is not very high, unfortunately.

Alhamdulilah, while we joke about how much scientific education we have in our communities, and where many of our leaders complain of this situation, it is within these sorts of questions that we see the tangible benefit of having so many doctors, engineers, and scientists; if you want to see a vibrant, cutting-edge fusion of ethics and science, the fatawa (plural of fatwa) that are being issued by scholars paired with science today, is impressive.

What makes this particular question so interesting is that there is really nothing in classical Islamic scholarship, nor are there really any Hadith or Qur’anic injunctions that directly address either of these issues. Thus, it is within the confines of these medical opinions that you see the resurgence of the usage of itjihad, broad qiyas, and istihslah. These tools, are translated as “individual judgement,” “analogical reasoning,” and “public welfare,” respectively.

Staying true to my personal preference, let us begin by looking at what The Qur’an could possibly offer for us as guidance, as a more general rule, regarding this issue:

Within Surah Baqarah the following verse, concerned with what God forbids you, underlines a very important conception:

“He has forbidden to you only carrion, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that over which any name other than God’s has been invoked; but if one is driven by necessity – neither coveting it nor exceeding his immediate need – no sin shall be upon him: for, behold, God is much forgiving, a dispenser of grace.” [2:173] Muhammad Asad

Alternate translation:

“He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah . But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], there is no sin upon him. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [2:173] Sahih International

Thus, what we see within this injunction is that we are allowed to engage in activities when our health and survival are at risk, even if it actually means that we must violate things which are forbidden by God. Whatever is necessary is permissible, and thus, if we make excuses for something’s necessity, while we know that it is not, then we are at fault.

In fact, the level of practicality that God commands us to consider is found in Surah An-Nahl:

“As for anyone who denies God after having once attained to faith – and this, to be sure, does not apply to one who does it under duress, the while his heart remains true to his faith, but [only to] him who willingly opens up his heart to a denial of the truth –: upon all such [falls] God’s condemnation, and tremendous suffering awaits them:” [16:106] Muhammad Asad


“Whoever disbelieves in Allah after his belief… except for one who is forced [to renounce his religion] while his heart is secure in faith. But those who [willingly] open their breasts to disbelief, upon them is wrath from Allah , and for them is a great punishment;” [16:106] Sahih International

Thus we can see the extent to which Islam allows you to do what is necessary, that if your life should depend upon it, that you may deny your faith. God knows what is in your heart, and while it may be admirable to declare your faith and face death for it, but if someone is a parent, and must care for children and their family, is such a sacrifice necessary? God doesn’t think so, so neither should you.

Therefore, with these considerations in mind, it was ruled by scholars who congregated from all over the world in February 1988 that it is permissible for a Muslim to donate their blood, transplant organs (including skin grafts, etc), or donate organs after death.

The council noted that while, it was without question that the human body is to be treated with tremendous respect, the necessity that would emerge for someone to donate an organ was clearly one that overrode any possible considerations otherwise.

This council obviously put in limits: they argued that it should only be done with the care of a medical professional who deemed it necessary; that you could not seek financial profit from any sort of donation; you cannot take essential organs (i.e. heart, etc) from a healthy, living person to give to another; and that the person who donates must be of sound mind, mature age, and if deceased, must have either willed for their organs to be used prior to their death, or their family members (in the absence of such a request) approve of such a transplant, keeping in mind their dead relative’s wishes.

There is still dispute over this issue, and there are many, reputable and intelligent scholars who either disagree with this position, or they provide different requirements and limits in the approval of such medical actions.

Insha Allah, I hope I answered your question, and if you, or anyone else, has any questions on this or any other topic, please do not hesitate to ask me.

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