You might be associated with certain religious beliefs, but your organs are not

Published: April 19, 2015
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Amid cultural challenges, organ donation thrives in many countries, owing to tireless awareness efforts by their government and the media. PHOTO: PINTEREST

If you had a chance to help save lives, would you seek the approval of a religious cleric before doing so?

Unfortunately, for a considerably large number of people in our society, the answer is yes.

In a recent blog, I urged readers to donate their organs to those in need. In response, many people asked if donating organs was allowed in Islam; a few declared it was not.

In a country where people vehemently rely on opinions of religious scholars, it would be naive to expect them to choose rationalism over faith. To promote a culture of organ donation in our country, it is necessary to acknowledge and address the religious taboos associated with this subject.

Knowing this, the Sheikh Zayed Islamic Centre and University of Karachi, in collaboration with the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT), organised a seminar called Donation and transplantation of organs in the light of Quran and Sunnah’. Addressing the seminar was a body of scholars who explained that not only is organ transplantation permitted in Islam, it is, in fact, considered a ‘Sadqa-e-Jariya’ (continual charity).

You might be associated with certain political or religious beliefs, but your organs are not. For Muslims who might shy away from the thought of a non-Muslim being saved by their posthumous charity, and for Muslims who might refuse to be saved upon discovering differences in religious affiliations between the donor and themselves, Mufti Muneebur Rehman clarified that the transplantation of any organ from a Muslim to non-Muslim or vice versa is allowed in Islam.

The president of Jamiat-e-Ulema Pakistan Noorani, Dr Abul Khair Mohammad Zubair identified organ donation as the greatest charity to save human lives and summed up his stance by saying,

“Saving lives can never be against Islam.”

Hopefully, the effort does not stop here. People who might have had religious reservations holding them back from registering as organ donors will now be encouraged to rethink their position.

Our ethical behaviour should be based on sympathy, education and our social needs, not on dogmas or preconceptions. In a country where religious influence is so overwhelming, such willingness by a clergy to revise and clarify their stance in the light of modern science, demonstrates signs of an ideological reformation which we as a society are in dire need of.

Bangladesh, being a Muslim country, curbed their burgeoning birth rate by involving religious leaders in vigorous population control programs through changing conceptions about contraception, which is regarded as the ‘act of Satan’. Their efforts are remarkable.

If they can do it, why can’t we?

By educating and training clerics to join our efforts to combat the ills of our society, we can unite our apartheid-torn land, advocate women empowerment and its gravity for sustainable development, contribute towards a tolerant and diverse society, and shed prevalent taboos by putting an end to the silent approach on these issues.

Seminars of this calibre are essential for guiding public opinion and political actions. The organisers of this seminar have my utmost respect. However, this is only a milestone and greater challenges lie ahead. Besides religious concerns, there are socio-cultural barriers restraining us from saving and improving lives. The availability of organs can be a matter of life and death – as it has been for many who have lost their lives knowing they could have been saved if only their compatriots could have discerned the value of human life – and therefore this issue deserves our utmost attention.

Amid cultural challenges, organ donation thrives in many countries, owing to tireless awareness efforts by their government and the media. By arduously fighting against illegal trafficking, launching education campaigns to deal with public distrust in the procedure, promoting enlightened family discussions on the issue, and eulogising selflessness by propagating narratives revealing how impactful one’s willingness to gift life to others can be, we can eventually witness a tremendous decline in the stigma of organ donation.

Many might feel uncomfortable talking about death, but it remains to be a subtle reality each of us will encounter sooner or later. If you decide to register as an organ donor because you consider it “Sadqa-e-Jariya” or merely out of kindness, in the end, knowing that the end of your life will be the beginning of a new one for somebody, will allow you to say goodbye to the world with pride.

Danish Nazeer

Danish Nazeer

A student, learner and a keen observer, he tweets as @IamDanishNazeer (twitter.com/IamDanishNazeer)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • wb

    Very good blog.

    “Bangladesh, being a Muslim country, curbed their burgeoning birth
    rate by involving religious leaders in vigorous population control
    programs through changing conceptions about contraception, which is regarded as the ‘act of Satan’. Their efforts are remarkable.

    If they can do it, why can’t we?”

    India hasn’t done it. Indian leaders fear talking about population explosion which is going to be a massive problem in the coming decades. We simply don’t have any honest leaders left. Even BJP trembles to talk about it or too stupid to understand it.Recommend

  • Dragana Kislovski

    A human being is all of the organs, vital energy, mind, intellect, ego and soul. Every organ has its energy which is part of the whole. Organ donation does have spiritual risks. Recommend

  • Dragana Kislovski

    Organ donation is a compassionate act but there are spiritual ramifications as well. http://www.spiritualresearchfoundation.org/organ-donationRecommend

  • Ahmed

    Actually my organs submit aswell. Otherwise it will be just like secular Muslims believe. Which is the following:

    Organs acting to our own will i.e. sinning as we like, but we agree to Islam beliefs by cherry picking the ones we like. Still our hands, eyes , private parts etc acting to our desires rather than that of Allah.Recommend

  • Blu

    “spiritual research”Recommend

  • Bushra

    u are wrong on this one…our organs are associated with religious beliefs..
    on the day of judgement our eyes will testify what we have seen and our hands will testify what we done and our feet will testify of where we have gone. each and every part of our body will be a witness on the judgment day.Recommend

  • Jor El

    Humans have organs, this is a fact …
    Humans have souls, this can’t be proved …
    “Organ donation does have spiritual risks.”
    Care to clarify pls ???Recommend

  • HASSAN

    I will never seek the approval of a religious sholar for donating my organs because i know it is a Nobel cause and by doing so i can save or improve a life of any person in need. In my opinion it is SADQIA JARIA and GOD will reward us for donating organs to others on the day of judgmentRecommend

  • siesmann

    If God can raise you up from death,he is entirely capable of giving you eyes and feet et al.Everything except bones will be decomposed anyway.Don’t put science in the hands of ignorant mullahs.You think God won’t ask you on judgement day why you didn’t give your organ to save a life,help a blind man see?God knows what is one’s heart and doesn’t require testimonies to know what one did in life.Recommend

  • siesmann

    What is more of a spiritual risk?To keep an organ from a needy person-an organ of no use to you in death;or help a dying person with something that wont cost you a nickel.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Organ Donation is another area where clerics are being involved in where they don’t belong.They will always interpret the language of texts to rule on current problems that didn’t exist before.There are certain decisions left to an individual per his conscience rather than as a ruling for all from ignorant clergy.Nobody forces anybody to donate their organs.And none should be not to.Recommend