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Islamic Rulings on Organ Transplantation

by | Jul 15, 2013

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“[…] And whoever saves a life it would be as if he had saved mankind entirely” [Surat Al-Ma’idah 5:32]

Every 27 minutes someone in the world receives an organ transplant, but nonetheless every 2 hours 24 minutes someone dies waiting for an organ to become available. Hundred of thousands more are on waiting lists around the world.

Every year millions of people die of various causes, but only about two percent of these people are potential organ donors. Of these potential donors, less than thirty percent will have any of their organs or tissues donated. So, Those who do will save an average of five lives and improve the quality of life of up to fifty more people.


An organ is defined as any part of human body, tissue, cells, or blood.  Organs of a deceased person, most of them, are useless. But Certain organs continue to function even after the death of a donor.  For majority of the organs a donor should be alive to donate the organs.

The majority of the Muslim scholars belonging to various schools of Islamic law have invoked the priority of saving human life based on the Qur’anic verse above (5:32) and have permitted the organ transplant as a necessity to procure that noble end.

In Islam Organ Transplantation is governed by two Judicial Rules:

  1. Necessities overrule prohibition.
  2. Choice of the lesser of the two Evils if both cannot be avoided.


Organ transplant within the same person: Examples are plastic surgery performed to restore function or shape, such as skin, cartilage, bones, veins, etc. So, Plastic surgery performed to change the person to elude the law is not permitted. Majority opinion is that it would not be allowed for cosmetic purposes.



The donor must be able to exercise free will, is in control of all his/her faculties. Donor gives permission without coercion if alive.


The organ donated should not affect his/her own life, which is the property of God alone. Because No one has the right to donate his or her life to someone else. Nor does he/she has the right to donate an irreplaceable part of his/her body, such as heart or brain.


The donor should not sell his/her organs for cash or in exchange for other organs of the body, since life and the human body in all its totality is the property of Allah

  • Organ transplant from one living person to another person is permissible in organs involving: Liver, kidney, lung, blood, skin if donor is in legal capacity. Donated organ must not disfigure the donor.
  • If donor is not of sound mind or dead, then the parents, spouse, guardian or ruler must decide. If the donor is under-age, in which case the donor’s guardian has no right to donate parts of his/her body, since the guardian is appointed to protect and preserve the body of the ward.
  • Part of an organ such as cornea of the eye can be donated Life-depending organ is prohibited. E.g. heart or brain from one living person to another. Donated organ should not risk the life of the donor
  • Organ transplant is prohibited if a basic function of the body is damaged
  • Transplanted organ should not be sold. Or no material gain for the donor.
  •  Transplantation is permissible from one Muslim to another and from a non-Muslim to a Muslim.  Transplanting Muslim organs into those under Muslim protection is a matter of some disagreement.

Isn’t donating organs also ‘Sadaquatul-Jaariyah’- a lasting act of charity long after one’s death (Hadith)

“[…] But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], there is no sin upon him.” [Surat Al-Baqarah 2:173]


Seeking cure is an obligation.

Saving of life or improving Quality of life is a must.

Using the forbidden for Necessity is allowed.

Whatever is forbidden is Specifically mentioned by Allah in the Qur’an.

Almighty Allah has not directly or indirectly prohibit organ donation or transplantation.  In fact, He has encourage the saving of life at any cost.

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