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Austin Cline

Islam and Organ Donation

By December 26, 2003

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Organ transplants and organ donations don't happen very often in Muslim countries - evidently, because Islamic scholars and religious leaders don't entirely approve of the process. They act as though there were something unclean about saving a person's life when donating an organ.

IPS News reports:

M Saleem Dada, who teaches 'Islamiyat', argues: ”If some Muslim countries have made the law in their favour, that is no reason to consider it an Islamic decision nor (does) the fatwa (Islamic decree)of Al-Azhar University matter for the same reason”.
”To change the shape of a body is a satanic attitude,'' he adds. ''Allah has created human beings with great art and perfection and to add or subtract anything from a person is against this setting. Little wonder then that organs donated are always rejected where they are put, and heavy and very expensive medicine is needed to control their work.”
Mohammad Ali Naqvi, a Shia scholar, also believes that ”cadaver organ donation or that of a living person is un-Islamic”. While donating blood is equivalent to godliness, ”and it does not require any surgical procedure, organ transplantation for research or for saving lives is not allowed in Islam,'' he argues.

Not every religious leader in Muslims countries believes such things, of course - there are those who argue just the opposite. Unfortunately, they appear to be a minority. It will take a while before the defense of saving lives and of generosity filters through the population such that organ donation becomes more routine - and lives are saved.

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Comments
April 17, 2007 at 2:28 am
(1) sumiyyah says:

Obiviously, this is not a minority among scholars. If you check out credible resouces like:
http://www.islamonline.net/fatwaapplication
or
http://www.islam.com
… you will see this is not the case. Check your sources, or at least base it on a more credible source. Also a look at schools must be seen. The schools are divided by different scholars who have analyzed vasts sources of knowledge (the Quran, Bukhari, etc) differently. So by only stating “No” is the majority is false. Google it and see actual Islamic sources. I get more yes than no. This is a poor statement with very little viewpoints, lack of assesment of Islamic law interpretation, and another negative generalization that is often made in concern with Islam. How tiring. If you do not change your viewpoint, at least have both viewpoints and better citations.

April 17, 2007 at 6:38 am
(2) Austin Cline says:

So by only stating “No” is the majority is false.

Then why is organ donation so rare in Muslim countries?

July 2, 2011 at 3:48 am
(3) Samsam says:

Simply because they don’t have an awareness. I’m a muslim and a living donor and I don’t believe what I did is unslamic.

February 6, 2008 at 8:08 am
(4) Suhail Khan says:

To the publishers of this article,
I am a trama physician in California, am muslim and have dealt with this issue first hand. Please be informed that you article is inaccurate and economically/culturally biased. Scholars in Islam do allow the DONATION of organs, but do not allow SALE of organs. Some scholars do have a stipulation of having a Muslim physician be apart of the procedure and having them use there judgment to do what is right.
Peoples cultures may be against donations, but that is not the religion. Many older African American patients hesitate to give blood because they are loosing a part of their vitality, that does not mean Christians are against giving blood. Also many muslim nations do not have the comforts of Western medicine and to imply these countries would not use organ transplants if available is closed minded and misleading.
I understand that you want to make a point for your argument for atheism, I could care less what you do and and have not issue with any person of any religion or culture. But please do report things properly especially since a google search will quickly disprove your statements.
Regards,
SK

February 6, 2008 at 8:18 am
(5) Austin Cline says:

Please be informed that you article is inaccurate and economically/culturally biased.

Feel free to actually demonstrate how instead of simply making the accusation and not supporting it.

Scholars in Islam do allow the DONATION of organs, but do not allow SALE of organs.

I think you are deliberately ignoring not only do I say that some do approve of organ donation, but also the fact that I am quoting two scholars who condemn the practice. Who am I going to believe about the teachings of Islam: two noted scholars or a “physician” who can’t even spell “trauma” correctly?

Peoples cultures may be against donations, but that is not the religion.

Given the degree to which culture is informed by religion, and vice-versa, it’s inevitable that attitudes on matters like this will be heavily influenced by religion. If Islam were unequivocally in favor of organ donation, then it would occur much more often.

I understand that you want to make a point for your argument for atheism

It’s bigoted of you to assume that I’m simply trying to “make a point” for atheism rather than faithfully and accurately quoting Muslim scholars condemning organ donation.

But please do report things properly especially since a google search will quickly disprove your statements.

If faithfully and accurately quoting Muslim scholars is not reporting things “properly,” then the problem lies with your religion, not with me.

July 4, 2008 at 5:54 pm
(6) Hussain says:

Why is the world always ‘out to get’ Islam and Muslims? The matter of organ donation is a relatively new issue. There are differences in opinion, of course, but the vast majority of Scholars say yes to organ donations, under a list of conditions.
And certainly, the misspelling of “trauma” was a typo. No human is infallible, except for those who our Creator [God] has made so, that is, His prophets.

January 11, 2009 at 11:21 pm
(7) Massey Hoveyda says:

I also agree that this article is rather incomplete. I believe that an unbiased, authentic journalist would put more time into researching at least more than one angle of a an argument.
A quick search on google produced the following link:
http://www.jaffari.org/literature.asp?id=16

In the future please refrain from adding to the mainstream notion that Islam and all associated to the religion are ‘bad’ or ‘backwards’. Ignorance is a bad color on anyone!

January 12, 2009 at 6:29 am
(8) Admir Mehinovic says:

Dear Austin,

I am Muslim (european) and i’m signing up on my organ donor card. I was clear that organ donation is not only permitted but even recommended in islam, but i wanted to make sure what widely followed Islamic scholars say on the fact before i actually do sign up.. i googled on it and this is how i stumbled on your blog. I must say I’m amazed with your “fact twisting” skills. you’ve taken few quotes from IPSNews (facts suitable for your mocking of islam and/or any religion whatsoever) and presented it here.. why didn’t you quote this (same IPSNews article):
“According to Eye Bank Society sources, some 1,500 corneas have been procured from Sri Lanka for more than 30 years. Though 30,000 consent cards have been signed in Karachi alone in the last 20 years, very few donations actually came forward. Naqvi says almost all Muslim countries have accepted organ donations, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Malaysia and Bangladesh, so he wonders why the same cannot be done in Pakistan.”

and this:

“Bur Rizvi counters: ”Giving life to people could never be un-Islamic. When it comes to life and death, something that is not permissible in Islam becomes permissible. That is Islam.” Niilofur Farrukh, art critic and activist, says: ”Cadaver organ donation is the ultimate gesture of generosity a human being can make for the other. It is a ‘sadqa-e- jaria’ (continuous and on-going alms giving). Enlightened religious leaders should endorse this to address religious concerns.”

Like Azfar, Nuzhat Lotia cannot fathom why ”if eyes can be donated after death, what holds people back from donating other organs? ”Blood is also defined as an organ and it’s donated all the time,” joins in Beena Sarwar, a journalist and human rights activist. ”

Dear Austin, please DO research before posting something, ok? oh and one more thing, there are scholars and scholars in all different areas. there are those who’s opinion matters and those who’s don’t. I honestly don’t care what some unknown mullah (in this case Pakistani, but no matter from where he/she comes from) thinks about my action (accent on unknown)…

Final quote:
“Whosoever saves the life of one person it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.”
Holy Qur’an, chapter 5 vs. 32″.

Best regards,
Admir

January 12, 2009 at 6:31 am
(9) Austin Cline says:

I also agree that this article is rather incomplete

If that were true, then you would be able to show why. But you don’t. You don’t even provide alternative viewpoints from Muslim countries, which is the subject of the piece — you have to find an organization in Toronto in order to act like you might be offering something relevant.

In the future please refrain from adding to the mainstream notion that Islam and all associated to the religion are ‘bad’ or ‘backwards’.

So long as religions behave in a manner that is bad and backwards I’ll keep pointing it out.

January 12, 2009 at 6:37 am
(10) Admir Mehinovic says:

In addition to my previous comment, i suggest you check on
https://www.uktransplant.org.uk/ukt/how_to_become_a_donor/religious_perspectives/leaflets/islam_and_organ_donation.jsp

there you will see clear image of organ donations in Islam.

furthermore, check the signatories on the leaflet:
https://www.uktransplant.org.uk/ukt/newsroom/fact_sheets/religious_leaflets/islam_and_organ_donation/islam_and_organ_donation.pdf

now i suggest you reconsider your entire post… best regards,

Admir

January 12, 2009 at 6:42 am
(11) Austin Cline says:

I must say I’m amazed with your “fact twisting” skills

That’s a pretty serious accusation; you’re failure to support it is highly unethical.

why didn’t you quote this (same IPSNews article)

I specifically pointed out that not every Muslim scholar in Muslim nations opposes organ donation.

Dear Austin, please DO research before posting something, ok?

If you’re going to make accusations like this, please consider trying to support them, OK?

January 12, 2009 at 7:25 am
(12) Admir Mehinovic says:

Is it me or the leaving comments on this blog just got blocked…?

January 12, 2009 at 8:04 am
(13) Admir Mehinovic says:

Now, i wonder why my comment where i clearly support all of my previously stated facts doesn’t appear here? Maybe this “open” discussion blog isn’t so open after all?

January 12, 2009 at 8:07 am
(14) Admir Mehinovic says:

My previous attempts to post were not successful, not sure why, but here it is once more:

Since you request it i will comment further.
“Fact twisting” skills, simply because you have stumbled upon some unknown scholar (source) and claim it to be the valid representation of Islamic point of view towards organ donation and transplantation, when in fact vast majority of Islamic scholars (up to 95%), including Shariah Academy of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference – All islamic countries are members of the OIC), the Grand Ulema Council of Saudi Arabia, Iranian Religious Authority, Al-Azhar University Egypt (and many more have published their views and opinions on the topic) not only approve but in fact encourage organ donation and transplantation. If you were not aware, those institutions listed above are the main Islamic global authorities on everyday question. I believe this covers both “fact twisting” and “not researching”…

Contrary to you, i do research before i post, here’s the link to Saudi Arabian center for Organ donations and transplantations:
SCOT Saudi Arabia.
Malaysian society of Transplation:
MST Malaysia.

Best regards, Admir

January 12, 2009 at 8:32 am
(15) Austin Cline says:

Since you request it i will comment further.

Curious that you would need to be requested to support accusations.

“Fact twisting” skills, simply because you have stumbled upon some unknown scholar (source) and claim it to be the valid representation of Islamic point of view

Since names are cited, you must have overlooked that when you describe them as “unknown.” So, you’re saying that the article is not quoting legitimate sources? I”m sure you can support this.

If you were not aware, those institutions listed above are the main Islamic global authorities on everyday question.

And this is why organ donation is so common in Muslim countries, right?

January 12, 2009 at 11:15 am
(16) Admir Mehinovic says:

I don’t need to be requested but when you asked for support (source) of my claims, i simply provided it…

“Unknown” scholar simply because nobody heard about him. Example: when giving statement of some nuclear property of item x, do you quote John Smith who teaches nuclear physics or Albert Einstein, especially if the two give opposite opinions on the same thing, furthermore if Einstein’s is widely accepted as valid???
Not all Islamic teachers can give and provide answers to all questions. That’s the reason why there are councils of Ulema (scholars). Some teacher from Pakistan of whom nobody heard of (on international level) states some nonsense and you take it as a fact. In fact i claim that the article is not quoting relevant sources. Prove me wrong if you can.. (or you don’t have to prove it, just let me know who is the scholar quoted in the article). On the other side i am providing you with clear sources, worldwide known sources, assemblies and institutions yet you still don’t consider it’s weight.

Is it common or not, i cannot comment on this simply because i do not have access to such information. Links which i posted above can provide info on S.A. and Malaysia.

January 12, 2009 at 11:34 am
(17) Austin Cline says:

“Unknown” scholar simply because nobody heard about him.

Nobody, or just you?

In fact i claim that the article is not quoting relevant sources. Prove me wrong if you can..

The burden of proof on that is yours, not mine.

On the other side i am providing you with clear sources, worldwide known sources, assemblies and institutions yet you still don’t consider it’s weight.

In fact, I specifically point out that there is a variety of opinions on the matter.

January 13, 2009 at 2:46 am
(18) Admir Mehinovic says:

“Unknown” cause even google doesn’t give any results on the guy..

I’ve got no burden nor desire to prove that..simply because it is impossible to have coherent discussion with you on the topic..

There are variety of opinions on the matter, true..but there are those that matter and those that don’t.

Be atheist as much as you wanna be, that’s your call but try to be a bit more unbiased at least when publishing for the public. it’s getting more and more clear that the purpose of this blog is nothing more then mocking of religion by you..open your mind man..

regards, Admir

January 13, 2009 at 6:39 am
(19) Austin Cline says:

“Unknown” cause even google doesn’t give any results on the guy..

And as everyone know, Google is the gold standard for that sort of thing.

I’ve got no burden nor desire to prove that..

Then you shouldn’t waste people’s time by claiming it.

Be atheist as much as you wanna be, that’s your call

Not believing in any gods is as much a choice as not believing that there are elves in my basement. Beliefs in general are not matters of conscious will, but rather are forced by what we know about the world.

but try to be a bit more unbiased at least when publishing for the public.

No one is unbiased; I try, however, to be accurate. You have thus far failed to point out any inaccuracies in what I have written.

it’s getting more and more clear that the purpose of this blog is nothing more then mocking of religion by you.

I have mocked religion and I believe that ridiculous beliefs deserve to be mocked. Nothing in the above, however, qualifies as being even remotely close to mocking. It’s critical, but nothing at all like mocking. If you read the above and thought otherwise, then you need to significantly adjust your standards because not everything that is negative, critical, or disagree is also mocking.

March 16, 2009 at 9:23 pm
(20) Ahmed Abu Farha says:

Young Austin here didn’t do his homework before writing his article. For some reason, citing a name of a teacher (may be an elementary school teacher) that practically no Muslim heard of and would consider a scholar. At the same time Austin is ignoring a majority 99% of scholars approving organ donation. Google is an easy tool to your next homework in the future.

October 20, 2009 at 8:01 am
(21) nabila says:

As a medical student who has had to deal with ridiculous claims like yours before, both my research and logic (considering the prinicples of islam) make it abundantly clear that organ donation is allowed and commendable in islam.
If people don’t want to do something, there could be millions of reasons why, there is a good chance that it has nothing to do with religeon.
Deal with it.
Trying to pin the blame for problems which they are not responsible for makes you seem like you’re trying to prove something to yourself. If you’re a true athiest, stop trying to prove to yourself that you made the right choice. Right now you’re just coming across as ignorant and petty.

October 30, 2009 at 8:07 pm
(22) Naomi Chambers says:

I remember when a friend of mine from Saudi Arabia was killed accidentally in Seattle.

The hospital could not contact his family in the emergency situation. They ended up using his organs – and saved many lives in the process.

When his religious family found out, they were so angry they wanted to sue the city. The lawsuit was not successful.

The belief is that the body must be entact. This is not only Islam but Judism as well.

Muslims who say that Islam allows organ donation are not very familiar with their own religion. Organ donation is not even allowed in a lot of Islamic Nations – for religious reasons. Middle Eastern people purchase organse from poor people and have the transplants they need done in countries like India where it is legal.

October 30, 2009 at 8:26 pm
(23) Naomi Chambers says:

I had a thought

Saudi Arabia apparently “allows” organ donation.

Here is the Saudi Organ Donation Link you can check out just to prove that the do allow it

http://www.scot.org.sa/contact-us.html

Next, according to Amnesty International – Saudi Arabia executes women and men fairly often – for all sorts of crimes, many of them imaginary. Here is the link to that info

http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/report/saudi-arabia-executions-target-foreign-nationals-20081014

http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2009/05/11-16

This woman was executed for witchcraft in Saudi Arabia

http://www.nowpublic.com/world/execution-woman-witchcraft-saudi-arabia

So – when you think about it. Saudi Arabia should be in the organ donation business.

There is no need for Saudi’s to donate their own organs when they have a fresh supply

December 11, 2009 at 1:46 pm
(24) Sadek Obeidat says:

Hey Austin, regarding your comment on how the scholars which believe organ transplants/donations are allowed are a minority, this was in fact very true at one time.

However, this has changed dramatically over the years as the process in which Fatwa (rulings) regarding such matters has changed. Before, it was based strongly on the personal beliefs of the scholar, with little look into the scientific and religious aspects of these topics.

Here is a ruling by the Islamic scholar Muzammil Siddiqi:

http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?cid=1119503543346&pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar/FatwaE/FatwaEAskTheScholar

Sadly, what Naomi said above about angered family is true, however, one must keep in mind that how people react does not necessarily mean this is what the religion orders them to do. In fact, i would say that most Muslims world wide do not follow the religion very closely.

Here is a verse in the Quran which many people do not hear of, and one i think is very important to note:

“If anyone kills a person not in (lawful) retaliation for murder, or to spread mischief in the land, it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saves a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind”

P.S. I would like to say, shame to all of you above who simply attacked Austin for his comments, although one may feel they were unjust or biased… The Quran also states clearly “And Argue with them (the nonbelievers) in the best of manners.” Do not go attacking everyone who makes a statement against or questioning Islam this will only make them reject whatever you say.

I truly apologize for the long comment, hope you get the time to read it all

Regards,

Sadek Obeidat

July 22, 2010 at 4:55 pm
(25) Osman says:

Austin, I think the fact that you keep asking for sources and claiming that people aren’t proving their point, despite the fact that an abundance of links and resources have been posted in various comments, points to your motivations and intentions more than any claims that you are being indifferent.

As to why it is not popular in Muslim countries, it is probably because muslim countries tend to be poor and uneducated compared to highly advanced and wealthy societies like the US and Europe. They don’t have the monetary resources, nor do they have the infrastructure to support organ donation on a scale like it is done in the west.

July 22, 2010 at 9:43 pm
(26) Austin Cline says:

Austin, I think the fact that you keep asking for sources and claiming that people aren’t proving their point, despite the fact that an abundance of links and resources have been posted in various comments, points to your motivations and intentions more than any claims that you are being indifferent.

Except that none of the links posted thus far refute or rebut any of the arguments I’ve made. The fact that Muslims like you think that they have just points to a disturbing lack of basic critical thinking and reasoning skills — at least where your religion is concerned.

October 19, 2010 at 5:29 am
(27) mehdi says:

Austin; simply put, you;re an idiot!

November 12, 2010 at 2:13 pm
(28) ks says:

Dear Austin,

I am muslim, thank God. You are trying to prove there is no God when in fact everything within you is probably struggling with the real truth which is God exists and he created you and everything on earth for our benefit. Look within yourself and ask God to guide you and bring the truth to you. Submitting to your creator will free you from slavery to anything else or anyone. Take Care!

November 12, 2010 at 2:27 pm
(29) Austin Cline says:

You are trying to prove there is no God when in fact everything within you is probably struggling with the real truth which is God exists and he created you and everything on earth for our benefit.

OK, prove it.

July 9, 2011 at 11:48 pm
(30) Mohamed says:

I am sorry! I was going to leave an answer not realizing it is atheism.about.com

You started your insightful and quite illuminating and unbelievably inspiring research paper by writing, “Organ transplants and organ donations don’t happen very often in Muslim countries.” May your highness show the ignorant among us some statistics? I have the statistics of Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia, by the way. Have you tried to check the Egyptian Dar-al-Ifta website? Have you tried to check the Saudi official fatwas? The Iranians? Do you read Arabic by the way?

May your majesty sleep very very well, have the sweetest dreams, and never bothered by the annoying public! Hahahahaha…

July 17, 2011 at 12:39 am
(31) haroon tariq says:

Whenever someone is outspoken against Islam and they have an odd and nonsensical argument, I look them up. A lot of the time they turn out to have Jewish heritage. Debbie Schussel, Pamella Gellar, You. Most Muslim’s can’t pass as white, but most Jews can. Jew’s are always bashing Muslim’s in the media. If a Muslim does it, everyone hears what a Muslim said about a Jew.

May 2, 2012 at 11:50 pm
(32) Most common name says:

This article looks as if though it were written by someone in high school.
Good luck trying to stop the FASTEST growing religion (or should i say way of life) in the world.

August 7, 2012 at 8:09 pm
(33) Akbar says:

Hi Austin, if you read the trail of comments you would find that you are constantly defending yourself. So ask yourself why? Granted that majority of the comments are made by muslims, I believe you will find that your article attracts more muslim readers than otherwise. I don’t think you put much thought into the type of readers you were targeting with this article.

With that said, I am a muslim and I came to this article because I have been made aware of organ donation recently and I thought I’d just check around to see what is the ruling. The good thing is that I have come across positive encouragement to sign up for organ donation.

I hope you take this comment constructively. Accuracy of your research or comments by others can always be debatable and changes with time. Whilst I have no interest in debating the validity of your research, I do implore you to perhaps write according to your targeted audience. Perhaps you did intend for it to only be read by Atheists / Agnostics as you have posted it in this category. But the power of Google has made this article appear high in the ranks and open to the rest of the world.

Muslims are often misunderstood, and so are atheists / agnostics. Both have very different belief systems, and whilst we may not see eye to eye, we must learn to accept each other for who we are and respect each other.

Have a good day everyone.

August 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm
(34) Austin Cline says:

Hi Austin, if you read the trail of comments you would find that you are constantly defending yourself.

Not really. I don’t regard challenging people to support their claims as “defending” myself.

But the power of Google has made this article appear high in the ranks and open to the rest of the world.

I find it amusing that you don’t think this was the point.

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