is a lung transplant permitted in islam?
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatoh
Allāh Ta’āla has created human beings as the best of the creations and has granted human beings a lofty status. In relations to this honor, Allāh Ta’āla has made it impermissible to derive any type of benefit from human parts, even if it does not cause any harm to the donor. ‘Allāma Burhānuddīn ‘Ali bin Abi Bakr al-Marghinānī in his famous treatise Al-Hidāya says:
وشعر الإنسان وعظمه طاهر وقال الشافعي نجس لأنه لا ينتفع به ولا يجوز بيعه ولنا أن عدم الانتفاع والبيع لكرامته فلا يدل على نجاسته والله أعلم (الهداية)
And human hair and bones are pure. Imām Shāf’i says [it is] impure, since benefit cannot be derived from it nor can it cannot be sold. Our view is that the impermissible of deriving benefit is due to it being sacred; therefore this does not give proof for it being impure. And Allāh Knows Best.
Hereunder is a summarized version of Mufti Shafi’s (ra) book on organ transplant by Hadrat Mawlāna Yusuf Ludhyānwi (ra).
At the outset a few fundamental principles of Shari’a should be understood.
- Whatever is unlawful in Shari’a is harmful to mankind, regardless of how beneficial it may seem. This harm could be physical and spiritual. At times this harm is as clear as daylight to everyone. At times it is only apparent to the experts in the field, and at times it is so hidden that only Allāh is aware of its harms.
- Allāh Ta’āla has bestowed mankind with the highest status from all His creations and has made man superior over all others. The entire universe is made subservient to man in which man uses what is lawful for his nourishment and well being. Under certain circumstances, unlawful entities also become lawful. Also, due to this status and sanctity bestowed to man by Allāh, it is also unlawful to derive any benefit from any part or limb of man.
- The life bestowed to man is a Divine loan. To harm it or destroy it is a grave sin. It is essential to uphold this trust and look after it. For this reason, it is necessary to adopt methods and treatments in which one’s life can be saved. For the maintenance of health, the laws of Shari’a also become flexible and lenient. That is why we find leeway in wudu, prayer, fasting, etc for the sick. In fact, in order to save one’s life, a Muslim will be excused to such an extent that even utterance of the words of kufr is forgiven. Similarly, if a person is at the throws of death due to hunger and the only food available is pork and wine, he will be excused to consume the pork and wine to the extent that it saves his life.
How does one determine whether a situation falls under ‘necessity’? ‘Allāma al-Hamawi (ra) in his commentary of al-Ashbāh wal-Nadā’ir classifies five levels of necessity.
- Darūra – A person reaches such a state that if he does not indulge in an unlawful act, he will die or reach close to death. This state makes unlawful things lawful.
- Hāja –A person reaches such a state that he will not die, but will experience extreme difficulty. It will not make unlawful entities lawful, but it will create leniency in aspects of purity, prayer, fasting, etc. For example, a person is in the state of such hunger that if he does not get something to eat, he will not die, but he will be in great difficulty. This stage does not make an unlawful thing lawful, but it gives leeway for a person not to fast.
- Manfa’ – To be of benefit. For example a person desiring wheat bread, mutton, and fatty dishes.
- Zīna – Luxuries. For example a person desiring sweet dishes and sugar.
- Fudūl – Extravagance. For example expansion in eating unlawful foods and doubtful.
فالضرورة: بلوغه حدا إن لم يتناول الممنوع ،هلك أو قارب، وهذا يبيح تناول الحرام الحاجة: كالجائع الذى لو لم يجد ما يأكله لم يهلك غير أنه يكون فى جهد ومشقة، وهذا لا يبيح الحرام، ويبيح الفطر فى الصوم المنقعة: كالذى يشتهى خبز البر ولحم الغنم والطعام الدسم الزينة: كالمشتهى بحلوى والسكر الفضول: التوسع بأكل الحرام والشبهة (شرح الحموى على الاشباه والنظائر 1:252 ادارة القران والعلوم الاسلاميه)
For darūra (life threatening situations), it should be kept in mind that an unlawful entity becomes lawful only with the following three conditions.
- This patient truly is sick to the extent that his life is in danger.
- The fear of losing the life is not just an assumption, but a reliable doctor state so, and treatment is not available with lawful substances.
- The doctor has conviction that the sickness will be cured through the unlawful substance.
With these three conditions, an unlawful entity will become lawful. However, there are some situations wherein the unlawful entity will remain unlawful, e.g. to kill another human to save one’s life. Shari’a has given equal rights to each human being and one’s life will not be preferred over another.
There is a difference of opinion regarding the issue whether unlawful substance can be used in a case where the sick person is in great difficulty but it is not life threatening. The majority of Jurist say it is permissible when the above three conditions are met.
Aap kay masa’il aur un ka hal (9:167) Maktaba Ludhyanwi
The Jurists have taken into consideration situations of dire need, hence the famous principle of Fiqh:
الضرورات تبيح المحظورات
Necessities permit the prohibited.
المشقة تجلب التييسر
Difficulties bring easiness.
It is from the above principles, the Jurist have stated that harām entities become permissible when there is a dire need. Ibn ‘Abidīn writes:
مطلب في التداوي بالمحرم ( قوله ورده في البدائع إلخ ) قدمنا في البيع الفاسد عند قوله ولبن امرأة أن صاحب الخانية والنهاية اختارا جوازه إن علم أن فيه شفاء ولم يجد دواء غيره قال في النهاية : وفي التهذيب يجوز للعليل شرب البول والدم والميتة للتداوي إذا أخبره طبيب مسلم أن فيه شفاءه ولم يجد من المباح ما يقوم مقامه ، وإن قال الطبيب يتعجل شفاؤك به فيه وجهان ، وهل يجوز شرب العليل من الخمر للتداوي فيه وجهان ، وكذا ذكره الإمام التمرتاشي وكذا في الذخيرة وما قيل إن الاستشفاء بالحرام حرام غير مجرى على إطلاقه وأن الاستشفاء بالحرام إنما لا يجوز إذا لم يعلم أن فيه شفاء أما إن علم وليس له دواء غيره يجوز ومعنى قول ابن مسعود رضي الله عنه لم يجعل شفاؤكم فيما حرم عليكم يحتمل أن يكون قال ذلك في داء عرف له دواء غير المحرم لأنه حينئذ يستغني بالحلال عن الحرام ويجوز أن يقال تنكشف الحرمة عند الحاجة فلا يكون الشفاء بالحرام وإنما يكون بالحلال ا هـ
The issue at hand is can a person use another human being’s organ in the state of dire need?
Here under is the resolution of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy (al-Majma’ al-Fiqhi al-Islāmi) which took place in 28 of Rabi’ al-Thani, Jamadi al-Ula 1405.
It is permissible to take an organ from a living individual and place it in another individual who is in need of the organ to save his life or to bring into use such a limb which is from the necessary limbs of a human. This is not considered as desecration in relation to the person donating the organ. It is considered as helping and aiding another in time of need, which is a praiseworthy action. It will be permissible with the following conditions:
- The donor’s life is not endangered by donating the organ, as it is the principle of Shari’a that for ridding a harm, another harm which is equal or greater will not be undertaken. Also in such a situation, by donating an organ, it will equate to destroying one’s life, which is prohibited.
- The donor gives the organ from his free will without any pressure put on him.
- The sickness is such that the only way for cure is through organ transplantation.
- There is a high probability for cure through organ transplantation.
(Taken from the Urdu translation Fiqhi Faslay p. 157)
In the medical field, techniques have been refined and the human body is treated with much respect during surgical procedures. Organs transplant is no longer considered desecration, neither by the medical society nor by common individuals.
Mufti Kifāyatullah writes, “This doubt that that it is unlawful to derive benefit from human parts should not remain, because it is unlawful in situations wherein there is desecration of a human. In situations where there is no desecration of a human, it will be permissible. (Kifāyat al-Mufti 9/143 Maktaba Haqāniyya)
In the view of the above, it is our humble opinion that if a person is in a dire need of a lung transplant and his life is at stake, it will be permissible for him to undergo a lung transplant.
And Allah knows best
Ml. Ehzaz Ajmeri,
Student Darul Iftaa
Checked and Approved by:
Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In’aamiyyah