Mission StatementDisclaimerAffiliatesContact Us


MHN Assists UK Transplant’s ‘Can we Count on you?’ Initiative

The Muslim Health Network recently endorsed and supported the UK Transplant’s organ donation campaign, which targeted the Asian community. Various organisations, mosques and community forums where contacted and community specific information was distributed, in the hope that this would highlight and help tackle a serious issue currently facing the south Asian community. Our basic message to the community is that if we can take, we should also give.

People from south Asian communities living in the UK are thirteen times more likely to develop kidney failure than the rest of the population and have a greater chance of needing a kidney transplant. This is mostly due to diet and lifestyle factors, as well as an increased susceptibility to diabetes and high blood pressure.

Right now, over 1,170 Asian people in the UK need a transplant and their chances of success are greater if they can be matched with a donor from the same ethnic background. But with Asian people accounting for fewer than 2% of deceased donors, transplant patients from this community typically wait twice as long as others for a suitable donor to become available. Some will die waiting.

In the face of such disturbing facts, MHN backed the campaign sponsored by UK Transplant, the NHS organisation responsible for matching and allocating donated organs, to encourage more Asian people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register (the national database of people willing to become donors after they die) and help dispel some common myths that are known to affect donation rates, in particular assumed religious objections. UK Transplant’s latest south Asian organ donation campaign, was launched last to encourage more Asian people to give the gift of life by becoming organ donors.

All the major religions of the UK support the principles of organ donation and transplantation. However, within each religion there are different schools of thought, which means that views may differ. All the major religions accept that organ donation is down to individual choice and anyone with concerns or doubts about the religious implications of organ donation is encouraged to talk to their spiritual or religious leader.

In 1995, the UK Islamic Shariah Council issued a fatwa (religious ruling) supporting organ transplantation as a means of relieving pain or saving life. It should be noted that the he consensus of The Muslim World League in Makkah, the Organisation of Islamic Conference in Jeddah and the Islamic Juridical Academy of India has encouraged organ donation as being a noble act and a measure to save lives. It is one of the five indispensable goals of Islam to save life. The network is however opposed to any type of a default organ donation system, as recently debated in parliament and as is common in Austria. For a detailed response on the question of organ donation in Islam, please view the article below.

If you would like advice about the issues surrounding organ donation then call the Organ Donor Helpline on 0845 60 60 400.


Organ Donation in Islam

Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, is a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Generally speaking, we would like to stress that Islam teaches us to feed the hungry, to take care of the sick and to save people's lives. Organ donation is permitted in Islam if it is done within the permissible limits prescribed by the Shari`ah.Ideally, after death, a person’s body must be washed, shrouded and buried as intact as possible after saying the prescribed Prayers; we are not allowed to dissect, mutilate or tamper with the body in any way. The reason for this is that the dead person enjoys a certain amount of sanctity which cannot be violated. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “Cutting up a dead person’s bones is akin to cutting him up while he is alive!”

There are, however, certain exceptions made to the above strict rule in order to address certain specific exigencies or unusual circumstances. In other words, the rigors of the law have been relaxed in some cases, for things that are otherwise deemed as impermissible shall be deemed permissible or even recommended in such cases depending on the severity or extreme necessity. An example of this is when it has been determined that a certain organ or body part of a dead person can be used to save a living person. In such case, we are certainly allowed to harvest a specific organ or body part of a dead person—provided that he has already left specific instructions before his death in his will to that effect or provided his legal heirs have authorized the same. This is based on a ruling of the majority of Muslim jurists who have deliberated on this issue.

According to the above jurists, the body of a person after death can also be subjected to post-mortem in case of a genuine need to do so in order to investigate a crime or to find the cause of serious disease, if doing so is dictated by the need to prevent transmission of such a disease. However, all of the above must be done only under strict regulations. In other words, we cannot take these as blanket approvals for interfering or tampering with the body unnecessarily.

Therefore, if you wish to leave instructions to the effect that a certain organ or part of your body such as kidneys or liver or heart should be harvested for saving the lives of others, or to find the cause of a certain disease which may be instrumental in preventing further occurrence of the disease, you may do so without incurring any sin. Such an act will even be considered as a grand act of charity since there is no charity greater than the gift of life. It is worth remembering that Islam, being as it is primarily a religion of mercy, ennobles all charitable acts to every breathing soul or being. So organ donation is permitted within the limits prescribed by the Shari`ah and the conditions stipulated by the Ulema (scholars).

Conditions associated with a living donor:

  1. He/she must be a person who is in full possession of his/her faculties so that he/she is able to make a sound decision by himself/herself;
  2. He/she must be an adult and, preferably, at least twenty-one years old;
  3. It should be done on his/her own free will without any external pressure exerted on him/ her;
  4. The organ he/she is donating must not be a vital organ on which his/her survival or sound health is dependent upon;
  5. No transplantation of sexual organs is allowed.

Conditions associated with deceased donors:

  1. It must be done after having ascertained the free consent of the donor prior to his /her death. It can be through a will to that effect, or signing the donor card, etc.
  2. In a case where organ donation consent was not given prior to a donor’s death, the consent may be granted by the deceased’s closest relatives who are in a position to make such decisions on his/her behalf.
  3. It must be an organ or tissue that is medically determined to be able to save the life or maintain the quality of life of another human being.
  4. The organ must be removed only from the deceased person after the death has been ascertained through reliable medical procedures.
  5. Organs can also be harvested from the victims of traffic accidents if their identities are unknown, but it must be done only following the valid decree of a judge."


Muslim Resources

Muslim Directory