By Muhammad al-Jibaly in Consultation with `Ali al-Halabi
(26 Rabi’ Awwal 1424 – 27 May 2003)
Most of the Muslims in the world are too confused and perplexed when they are drawn into the discussion relating to organ donation or eyes (cornea) donation.
There is no verse in the Qur’an or in the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that forbids the organ donation. The phenomenon of organ donation is of a latest one. As science developed into recent discoveries and inventions, mankind have explored the ways to lead a life with ease and comfort, while using the scientific technology for the upliftment of the living standards of the people. Organ donation is also a noble job, provided it does not involve unethical ways of executing it.
The ISLAMIC FIQH COUNCIL organized a conference in the year 1988, in the city of Jeddah, where in Scholars of Islam (fuqaha’), doctors and specialists participated and gave rulings (Fatwa) stating that it is absolurely fine to donate organs from one person to another, provided certain disciplines are maintained.
The general disciplines and principles that needs to be exercised during organ donation are as follows:
1. A person’s organs may be donated either during his life time, or after his death, by his consent or by his immediate family’s consent.
2. The person donating the organs or cornea must not take any monetary benefit from the one who is the recepient of the organ.i.e he must not sell his organs for money.
3, The Person donating the organs must not donate such organs in his lifetime, if when he donates them his life would be in danger. Such as liver, heart etc. If the organ donation may prove fatal or detrimental, while harming his ownself, then he is not allowed to donate such organs. (Source: islam-qa.com, Islam Q & A, question no.107690)
The Muslims are permitted to donate their corneas after their death to those deserving eyes amongst the mankind. Care should be taken to ensure that there is proper agreement to the transplant of organs in the cases described above, on the condition that no buying or selling of organs is involved. It is not permitted to trade in human organs under any circumstances. It is permissible to remove the corneas from a person after his death has been confirmed, and to implant them in the eye of a person who needs them, if it is thought most likely that the operation will be successful, and so long as the next of kin (of the deceased) do not object. This is based on the principle of serving the greater of two interests and doing the lesser of two harms, and of giving precedence to the interests of the living over the interests of the dead. There is the hope that the living will be able to see again after having lost his sight, and that this will benefit him and he will benefit mankind. The deceased person from whom the cornea is taken does not lose anything, because his eyes will turn to dust anyways. Removing the cornea from his eyes is not a visible mutilation of his body, because his eyes will be closed. (source : islam-qa.com, Islam Q&A, question no.21381)
It is forbidden to take an organ from a living person when doing so could impair an essential vital function, even though his life itself may not be under threat, such as removing the corneas of both eyes while the donor is alive. However, removing organs which will lead to only partial impairment is a matter which is still under scholarly discussion. (source: Qararaat Majma’ al-Fiqh al-Islami, islam-qa.com question no. 2117)
The Supreme Council of ‘Ulama in Riyadh has allowed both organ donation and organ transplantation in the case of necessity. The organ can be taken from the body of a living person with his/her consent and approval and also from the body of a dead person. In the case of a living person, the jurists have stipulated that this donation should not deprive him/her of vital organs. It should also not cause risk to his/her normal life.
The Fiqh Academy of the Muslim World League, Makkah also allowed organ donation and transplantation. The Fiqh Academy of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Jeddah also allowed the use of the body organs of a person who has died in an accident, if the necessity requires the use of any organ to cure a patient, provided that a competent and trustworthy physician makes this decision.
It is important to note that most of the jurists have only allowed the donation of the organs. They do not allow the sale of human organs. Their position is that the sale of human organs violates the rules of the dignity and honor of the human being, and so it would be haram in that case.
The above mentioned proofs suggest that cornea donation is permissible under the Islamic Shariah (law).
-Umar Shariff President, DIET