In the name of Allāh, Most Gracious, Most Merciful





One of the biggest dilemmas facing the U.K. Muslims at present is the issue of organ donation. With the introduction of the  Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act, 2019, (Wales 2015, England 2020 and Scotland 2021) if you are an adult when you die it will be deemed that you have consented to donate your organs for transplantation unless you have recorded your decision to the contrary or if you are in an exempted group.


This idea of deemed consented may be seen as problematic from an ethical perspective in certain ethnic minorities, such as the Muslim community, where to presume that the majority if asked would consent to organ donation cannot be justified.


Knowledge and facts are of different types and the scientific and religious approaches can be very different when providing evidence to justify a decision. In religion knowledge revealed via sacred texts is the highest level of evidence, whereas when making decisions based on science religious texts hold no value.



  1. There is a shortage of organs for donations worldwide including in the U.K.
  2. 3 people a day die in the UK waiting for an organ transplant.
  3. Asians, including Muslims, are over-represented on the transplant waiting list and under-represented on the organ donation register. (2018-19 data)
  4. 4%  of all deceased donors Asian and 13% of all deceased transplants are Asian. (2018-19 data)
  5. Asians in the U.K. needing organ transplantation have to wait longer, on average, than their white counterparts due to lack of suitable organs.
  6. Essential organs for transplantation such as the heart, liver and lungs can only be removed from a dead person since their removal from a living person would be the cause of death.
  7. In the U.K. the majority of organ donations are from those declared brainstem dead.
  8. Brainstem dead individuals will never regain consciousness, never be able to move purposefully, never breathe on their own, they will never recover based on our current medical knowledge. So to keep them “alive” with artificial feeding, breathing, and in some cases, artificial circulation using limited precious resources would seem unreasonable. Such individuals are, from a medical perspective, no hope no purpose situation.
  9. Brainstem death is recognized as legal death in the U.K.
  10. Whether brain death is actual death or not has been and continues to be debated amongst western academics.
  11. For certain medical conditions, organ donation is the most effective treatment, medically and financially.
  12. Scientific data shows that organ transplantation saves lives. Muslims in favour of organ donation often quote the Quranic verse, “If anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind.” (Quran 5:32)



  1. There is a difference of opinion amongst Muslim scholars on whether it is permissible or not to remove organs from a dead body or not. Some scholars consider the removal of organs from a dead body to be ḥarām (forbidden) other scholars consider deceased organ donation not only to be permissible but recommended or highly recommended. Some consider it to be a form of ongoing charity (sadaqa jariya) as there is potential to save other people's lives.
  2. All Muslim scholars agree that essential organs such as the heart, liver and lungs can only be removed from a dead person.
  3. Islamic death is defined as the removal of the soul from the body by the Angel of death. All Muslims agree on this.
  4. No individual dies before his or her time. All Muslims agree on this.
  5. Muslim scholars disagree if brainstem death equates with Islamic death. The majority of fatawa issued for UK Muslims do not consider that brainstem death equates with Islamic death.
  6. After life support measures have been withdrawn from a brainstem individual the heart will stop permanently, no air will be going in and out of the lungs then it can be said that the soul has departed from the body and the individual is Islamically dead.
  7. If essential organs are removed from brainstem individuals who are not Islamically dead then the removal of organs is the cause of Islamic death. “Whoever kills a person it is as though he has killed all mankind. And If anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind.” (Quran 5:32)



  1. There is no doubt that there is a need for organ donation from the Asian and Muslim communities in the U.K.
  2. If Muslims are willing to receive organs they must be willing to donate organs (the principle of reciprocity).
  3. The crucial question for an individual is: Can I give doctors permission to remove essential organs from my body when I have been declared brainstem dead but not Islamically dead in the hope that my organs will save other people's lives but the removal of my organs will be the cause of my Islamic death. This is the dilemma.
  4. After you have considered the matter carefully and derived at a decision, you can register your decision to donate your organs after you die or register your decision not to donate



Opt-Out Organ Donation Law FAQS

Does brainstem death equate with Islāmic death




Dr. A. Hussain, July 2021