Amongst the various marvels of science and the facilities
it has afforded humankind in the last two centuries one extraordinary thing is
organ transplantation. Through surgery a defective organ of a person can be
replaced with a healthy one belonging to some other person. The healthy organ
can be taken from both a living and a dead person. The question which arises on
this procedure is whether it is religiously allowed that a person in his life
donate any of his organs to some other person or make a will that after his
death, an organ of his be donated to some other person?
The answer to this question should be in the affirmative
because apparently there is nothing in the Qur’ān and Hadīth which prohibits
this. However, the ulema of the Indian sub-continent generally regard it to be
prohibited, and proffer two arguments in favour of their viewpoint.
The first of these is that a person is not the owner of his
body. Hence he does not have the right in his own life to make a will for organ
donation. A person has control of his body as long as he is living in that body.
Once he departs from his body, he has no right on it that he make a will in
favour of it and this will be considered as implemented.
The second of these is that the sanctity of a dead body
should not be violated. The living should not harm it in any way. It is their
obligation that the body of a dead person be buried with full respect.
Dissecting a dead body or severing any of its limbs is tantamount to violating
its sanctity, and no ethical system of this world can permit this to happen.
In my opinion, both these arguments need to be
No doubt, the real owner of everything is God; however,
this too is a reality that he has the right to use and expend within the limits
prescribed by God whatever He has given man. Thus for one’s honour, family,
country and religion a person sacrifices his life, generously spends his wealth
and while knowing that he can be killed or lose any of his limbs, still fights a
war for the above mentioned causes, jumps in the fire and is ready to face the
greatest of dangers. The Qur’ān has termed this as the jihād of the life and
wealth of a person and as spending for the cause of God. In various places, it
has urged its followers to spend these things for the causes outlined above. It
is evident that the Qur’ān acknowledges this right of a person over his life and
The right a person has to make a will is a corollary of
this right to use his life and wealth. Thus, just as we have the right to make a
will about our wealth after our death, similarly, we also have the right to make
a will regarding enshrouding our dead body and its burial. Donating one’s organ
to some other person is also a similar thing. If all these afore-mentioned
things are allowed, and can be done while a person has left his body, then how
can making a will for organ donation be regarded as forbidden?
Similar is the case of violating the sanctity of a corpse.
It relates to one’s intentions and motives. Inflicting harm on the limb of a
person is a crime. The Qur’ān has given the directives of qisās and diyat for
such crimes. However, if with the permission of the patient, a doctor severs his
hand or foot, then no one can call him a criminal. So why should not one
differentiate between mutilating a dead body through various means and
conducting a post-mortem for the purpose of investigation? If a person makes a
will to give his wealth to some needy person, then this is counted as a virtue.
Similarly, if he makes a will to donate any of his organs or limbs to someone in
need, then this should also be seen as a virtue. Why should implementing such a
will be regarded as violating the sanctity of a corpse?
(Translated from Maqāmāt by Shehzad