[Q-ID0213] Is it permissible to donate or sell our body parts to others in Islam?

QUESTION:

What do the ‘ulamā` of the noble Sharī’ah say concerning the donation or selling of one’s body parts such as the heart, liver, kidneys, eyes and other limbs, is this permitted? Abdul Sattār Eīdhī donated his eyes and some people say this is permissible and some say it is impermissible. Please kindly mention the correct view.

ANSWER:

بسم اللہ الرحمن الرحیم

الجواب بعون الملک الوھاب اللھم ھدایۃ الحق والصواب

It is impermissible for a Muslim to donate or sell his organs nor is it in the right of a Muslim that he make a legacy concerning his organs for a loved one or any person after his death. If he did such a thing then this legacy will be invalid and it will impermissible to enact it.

This is because Allāh (Most Transcendent is He), has given honour to the species of human beings as Allāh (Most Transcendent is He) mentions:

“And no doubt, We honoured the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided them with clean things and preferred them over many of Our creations.”

[Surah Banū Isrā’il Verse 70]

It is established from the noble ayah that humankind is honoured and the most noble of creation. Many reasons for this dignity and nobility are mentioned in Tafsīr Kabīr and Rūh al-Ma’āni and other works.

To donate or sell the organs of a human being is in opposition to this honouring. This is because this is the state of animals that they and their body parts are gifted and sold. If any part of the body of a human being was used or sold to gain a benefit then this is open degradation and opposition to the Qur’anically stipulated honouring [of the human being].

As is mentioned in Bada’i al-Sana’i:

“Because the human being with all of his body parts is honoured and taking benefit from a body part separated from him is belittlement of him.”

[Bada’i al-Sana’i Volume 5 page 133]

The impermissibility of benefiting from his body parts is due to the reason of his honour and dignity. As is mentioned in al-Fatawa al-Hindiyyah:

“Benefiting from the body parts of a human being is impermissible.  It is said because of impurity, and it is said because of his respect and this [i.e. respect] is correct.  Like this it is mentioned in Jawāhir al-Akhlāti.”

[Al-Fatāwā al-Hindiyyah Volume 5 page 364]

A human being is respected such that, let alone benefiting from his heart, liver and eyes, selling or using just his hair for benefit is also impermissible as is mentioned in al-Bahr al-Rā’iq:

“[The hair of a human and benefiting from it] i.e. It is not permissible to sell it and benefit from it because humankind is respected and cannot be subjected to degradation thus it is not permissible that even any part of a human be subject to degradation.”

[al-Bahr al-Rā’iq Volume 4 page 133]

It is impermissible to sever a human limb even in the state of ikrāh (compulsion):

Many impermissible matters become permissible in a state of compulsion but the human being is respected to such a degree that the severing of the limb of another human being is impermissible for a person even under the state of compulsion, even if that person gives him permission to do so. Just as it is mentioned in Badā’i al-Sanā’i that a whole category of things is mentioned with the title, “that type [of thing] which is not permitted even in the state of compulsion”.

[Volume 7 page 362]

It becomes clear from this that killing a Muslim or cutting any of his limbs in any situation is not permissible even if the one whose limbs are being severed gives the other permission to do so. If a person in a state of being compelled severs another persons limbs then he is a sinner.

Similarly in al-Fatāwā al-Hindiyyah it is said:

“If he is compelled to cut the hand of a man and that man says ‘I have permitted you to cut, so cut’ and the one giving permission is himself not being compelled then it is not permissible for the person to cut his hand and if he did so he would be sinful.”

[Al-Fatāwā al-Hindiyyah Volume 5 page 41]

There is no permissibility in eating the limb of a person even in a state of idtirār (extreme necessity)

Even in the state of extreme necessity there is no permission for a person to cut off and eat the limb of a living human being. Even if he were to lose his own life. Even though in the state of extreme necessity eating something harām becomes permissible. As is mentioned in al-Ashbāh wa al-Nazhā’ir:

“A harm is not repelled with another harm, a person in a state of necessity does not eat the food of another person who is also in a state of necessity nor anything from his body parts.”

[al-Ashbāh wa al-Nazhā’ir volume 1 page 255]

Now the objection of those people, who say that to save the life of another person by the action of transplanting a bodily limb from another human being should become permissible, has been answered. Because it is mentioned clearly in the books of fiqh (jurisprudence) that even if there is intense danger to the life of one human being it is impermissible for him to cut and sever the limbs of another human being.

The second matter is that for a Muslim to cut or sever his own limbs and sell or donate them or take out his eyes and donate them and such like is to alter that which Allāh created i.e. it is changing the creation of Allāh which is impermissible and harām and obedience to shaytān.

When shaytān was rejected from the court of Allāh he said to Allāh:

“And I will certainly bid them that they would alter the creation of Allah.”

[Surah Al-Nisā’ Verse 119]

It is mentioned in  al-Tafsīr al-Kabīr:

“It is related from Anas, Shahr ibn Howshab, ‘Ikrimah and Abū Sālih that the meaning of changing the creation of Allāh here is castration, the cutting of the ears and removal of the eyes.”

[al-Tafsīr al-Kabīr Volume 5 page 384]

Also those women have been cursed in hadīth who in trying to beautify themselves bring alteration to the creation of Allāh.

On the authority of Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ūd that he said “Allāh has cursed the females who tattoo others and those who have themselves tattooed, the females who pluck their facial hair and those who create gaps in their teeth for beautification, the ones who alter the creation of Allāh.”

[Sahīh al-Bukhārī hadith 4486]

The third matter is that a human being is not the owner of his limbs. Allāh (Most Transcendent is He) is the Owner of all the body parts of a human being. For this reason a person does not have a choice in dealing with his limbs in a way which is for another human being. We have made clear through the references of al-Fatāwā al-Hindiyyah and Badā’i al-Sanā’i that if a person gives another permission to cut his limbs such a cutting is impermissible and harām on that person and the giving of permission to do so is also impermissible. This is because he is not the owner of these body parts so how can he give permission?

Is this method of treatment a darūrah (extreme necessity)?

Now if it is said that due to extreme necessity this method of treatment should be allowed just as has been mentioned in ‘Fatāwā Europe’, where the principle is mentioned that “Extreme necessities permit prohibited matters” -

Then this poor slave of Allāh says that to consider this method of treatment as being such an extreme necessity that has effect in making prohibited matters permissible is not correct.

In brief let us mention darūrah (extreme necessity) and the conditions of its effecting [rulings]:

The Definition of Darūrah (extreme necessity): If the doing of an action is necessary to the extent that if it were not done then the loss of any one of the following five matters is a certainty or according to preponderant opinion: Dīn, Intellect, lineage, self or wealth.

As is mentioned in al-Fatāwah al-Ridwiyyah: that five things are those whose protection is from the establishment of the Divine Law; Dīn, Intellect, Lineage, Self and Wealth. Apart from absolute frivolity all actions revolve around these. If an action (also included in this is the leaving of an action in the meaning of abandoning it because it is this [active abandonment] which one is able to do and one is tasked with and not non-action as is mentioned in al-Ghamz and other works) is relied upon for one of these in such a way that without that action this [purpose] would be lost or close to being lost then this is the level of darūrah. Like acquisition of knowledge of beliefs and individual obligations is for the Dīn, like abandonment of alcohol and fornication is for [preservation of] Intellect, like eating and drinking to the extent of maintaining the body is for the Self and like earning and prevention from usurping and other matters is for Wealth.

[al-Fatāwah al-Ridwiyyah Volume 21 Page 205]

This is clear from the books of Fiqh that only that necessity brings about lightening of the rules which is a binding necessity i.e. it definitely presents itself or whose occurrence is preponderant.

Even if this method of treatment definitely presents itself such that there is no option available except through taking it, even then for it to have the effect of darūrah (extreme necessity) the existence of a number of conditions is most necessary which are not found in this.

If those conditions are not present then the establishment of necessity won’t have any effect [on rulings]. From these conditions are these two:

[1] The actualisation of darūrah (extreme necessity) should be immediate, the possibility of necessity presenting itself in the future is not necessity and no consideration will be given to it. Just as the donation of parts is done because a need could arise in the future. Such a possibility is of no consideration nor is this necessity a darūrah [one which effects change in rulings].

[2] There should be certainty or preponderant opinion that by doing this prohibited action Dīn, life, intellect, wealth or lineage will be preserved. Whereas in this method of treatment transplanting one individual’s organs into another individual’s body, let alone certainty, there isn’t even preponderant opinion. In fact even in unbiased minds doubt has started to occur because new doctors and researchers have considered this method of treatment as unsuccessful because with most patients severe threat of loss of life remains with them because the body begins to reject organs from another body. Thus such a patient is given 20 to 30 pills to take daily by doctors. Also the transplanted organ at the most functions for up to 6 to 8 years at the most. It may fail even before this. When this is the reality then how can this method of treatment be called a darūrah?

Whereas an alternative to this method of treatment is now emerging in which such abominations in the eyes of the Sharī’ah are not present. This is the preparation of the body parts, heart, liver and other than them through cloning of the cells of the patient himself which could be used at the time of necessity.

Alongside the impermissibility of the method of extracting another person’s body parts and making use of them it is a temporary measure. This is not a complete cure for the illness. This is something which its pioneers themselves have accepted. Also how can this be called a cure when it is mentioned in hadith:

“Indeed Allāh has not placed your cure in that which He has forbidden upon you.”

[Sahīh al-Bukhārī]

It should also be remembered that Islām does not grant permission for severing the limbs of a deceased Muslim and making use of them. This is because that which harms a living person then a deceased person is also harmed by it. The one who cut the limbs of a deceased Muslim then it is as though he cut the limbs of a living Muslim. Just as is mentioned in hadith:

On the authority of Sayyidah ‘A`ishah that the Messenger of Allāh (may the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him said:

“The breaking of the bones of the deceased is like the breaking of his bones whilst he is alive.”

[Sunan Abū Dāwūd hadith 3207]

Analogy, upon the legal case of the Hanafī school that if a living child is in the womb of his deceased mother then the Ahnāf give fatwā upon the cutting of the mother’s stomach for the extraction of the child, is false. This is because here on one side is definite benefit because by doing this the child’s life will be saved definitely or according to preponderant opinion. Whereas in transplanting organs saving the life of the other is not definite because the whole science of medicine is indefinite. Secondly in the legal case mentioned no limb is being cut off to benefit from it rather the child is being extracted. Whereas in the case of transplantation the purpose of severing the limb is only to benefit by it. For this reason how can it be allowed to analogise this with that?

The fourth matter is that saying the selling of human organs is allowed is the opening of a door to many evils. Poor people will be prepared to sell their organs to fill their stomachs and the kidnapping of people to extract their organs for the purpose of selling will begin which will be difficult to stop.

When this matter has been established from so many angles that a Muslim’s donating or selling his organs is impermissible and harām then to make a legacy concerning it is to make a will for an impermissible act. Thus if a person makes a will for the donation of his organs or his eyes then this legacy which is opposed to the sharī’ah is invalid and it will not be acted upon in any way.

It is stated in Bidāyah:

“A legacy with disobedience is invalid due to its enactment necessarily entailing endorsement of disobedience.”

[Al-Hidāyah Volume 4 page 689]

واللہ تعالی اعلم ورسولہ اعلم صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم

کتبہ ابو الحسن محمد قاسم ضیاء قادری

Answered by Mufti Qasim Zia al-Qadri

Translated by Mawlana Ibrar Shafi

Read the original Urdu answer here – [Q-ID0213] Is it permissible to donate or sell our body parts to others in Islam?

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