I am a professor of emergency medicine. I am currently sitting for a Master in Medicine in Science degree in Bioethics and I am currently undertaking research into the use of the newly dead patient for life saving skills competency training.
Although it is expected that all doctors on duty in the emergency department should be completely competent in lifesaving skills when confronted with a medical emergency, developing and maintaining competency requires practical training using a variety of methods including simulated scenario teaching, plastic manikins, conscious and anaesthetised patients and use of the newly dead patient. Methods involving patients, both alive and newly dead are described as being the most appropriate for certain lifesaving skills practical training.
I have read in various articles of the medical literature that the deceased of Islam may not have such post mortem training undertaken, irrespective of whether the surviving family grants permission of not.
Please may I ask your humble advice whether this practice is indeed forbidden, any exceptional circumstances that may apply and whether it would be possible to obtain any references from the Holy Quraan and Hadith books that I may include in my research to ensure to all that such information is authentic.
Assalāmu `alaikum Warahmatullāhi Wabrakatuh,
The Shar’ee ruling pertaining to specializing in the field of forensic medicine: –
Choosing such a field that will involve a person in acts contrary to the commands of Allah Ta’ala is not permissible. Since seeing that carrying out of post-mortems is not allowed in Shari’ah (Islam), choosing a career which will involve a person in doing so, is not permissible.
The Shar’ee perspective regarding post mortems is as follows: –
Allah Ta’ala has categorically stated in the Qur’aan that:
“We have honoured and revered the children of Adam”.[Surah Bani Israel-Ayah 70]
The demands of this honour and reverence is that man at all times be sanctified and accorded the true recognition of his position in the eyes of Allah Ta’ala whereby just as his honour and dignity is binding to preserve, similarly the well being of his personal self and the limbs of his body also be accorded the same reverence.
Allah Ta’ala has also decreed that the body of man has not been merely given to him but it has been entrusted to him, due to which he is compelled to uphold this trust at all times.
Given that these two concepts of reverence and upholding of trust with regard to the body of a person are binding upon every individual, any form of misappropriation or disregard to the same will not be permissible.
Furthermore, just as these laws apply while a person is alive, similarly it applies and remains binding after the demise of a person.
This has been clearly alluded to in the Ahaadith that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wassallam) is reported to have said:
“To cause any harm to a believer after his death is tantamount to harming him whilst he is alive; i.e. the sin in both cases is as heinous and offensive.” (Recorded in Ibn Abi Shaibah)
Similarly another hadeeth states:
“Mutilating the body of a deceased person by breaking his limbs is tantamount to doing the same in his life time; i.e. just as in his life time it is not permissible, similarly will be the case after his death.”(Sunan Abu Dawud, Sunan Ibn Majah & Musnad Ahmad)
A human whether he is a believer or disbeliever is honoured by the Shari’ah, therefore mutilating of the body, organs and breaking of the bones is impermissible. (Raddur Mukhtaar)
Hence, in the light of these citations we learn that post mortems for medical training purposes is not permissible.
The law of Allah Ta’ala is supreme and it cannot be superseded by any man-made declaration which is always subject to change.
However, living in a non-Muslim country and being subject to the laws of the country, if one is faced with such a situation where one is forced and compelled to have a post mortem carried out and there is no other alternative to avoid a post mortem, then one will Insha-Allah not be held liable in the court of Allah.
Nevertheless all out efforts should be made to evade such a practice at all costs.
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Mufti Mohammad bin Saeed
Student Darul Iftaa
Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.