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What is the ruling of Sharia on autopsy?

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Darul Iftaa Jordan
What is the ruling of Sharia on autopsy?


All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; may His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.

Jurists are agreed on the sanctity of human being as well as the impermissibility of transgressing against him/her while dead or alive since Almighty Allah says {What means}: " We have honoured the sons of Adam;" {Al-Isra`, 70}. In addition, ‘A’isha reported God’s Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) as saying, “Breaking a dead man’s bone is like breaking it when he is alive.” {Related by abu Dawoud}. However, this is to the exclusion of autopsies specified by law, even if the cause of death is determined. Usually, this is conducted as a precaution for there could be hidden causes for the death. Reality has proved that discovering other causes of death led to solving some murders. Undoubtedly, the judicial system aims to establish justice amongst people and assert right. Allah the Almighty says {What means}:  " God doth command you to render back your Trusts to those to whom they are due; And when ye judge between man and man, that ye judge with justice: Verily how excellent is the teaching which He giveth you! For God is He Who heareth and seeth all things." {An-Nisaa`, 58}. He the Exalted also says {What means}: "God commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition." {An-Nahl, 90}. In some cases, this objective might need medical intervention to establish the circumstance of the crime and reduce it. Thus, the medical examiner plays a pivotal role to speculate on the cause of death and identify the offender.

 Conducting an autopsy to the extent deemed necessary is based on the Sharia maxim: "Necessity makes the prohibited permissible." However, this is provided that the autopsy is done as needed since necessity is estimated by the extent thereof,  and that all organs are returned as they were and buried with making sure that the sanctity of the dead is observed since Islam has honored man dead or alive, as stated in Resolution No. (201) of the Iftaa` Board. And Allah the Almighty knows best.

This answer was collected from the official government Iftaa Department of Jordan.

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