Donating body parts and medical use of cadavers!

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Islamic Medicine
Staff member
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the World; and may His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions.

Originally, it is forbidden to aggress a Muslim. This is a well established principle in Sharia. Similarly the rights of the Muslim must not be violated regardless of whether he is alive or dead. Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah reported from Ayisha (Radiya Allahu Anha) that she said: "The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said: 'breaking the bone of the dead is the same as breaking the bone of the living" .
Ibn Hajar said: 'This means that the immunity of the believer remains after his death as it was during his life' . But the rules of Sharia call for getting the benefits while avoiding the shortcomings. This is why many Muslim scholars permit opening the belly of the dead pregnant woman to take out her living fetus. They also permit cutting the fetus into pieces if there is no other way to save his mother who will die otherwise. Some scholars even permit eating the flesh of dead human beings for dire necessity. Ibn al-Subky states in his introduction about al-Muzni that the most sound opinion in al-Shafi Madhab is that 'It is lawful for the person in need to eat the flesh of the dead human being' .
Therefore, it is lawful to anatomize or dissect the corpse of the dead person regardless of his age for medical purposes. The reason for this is that the purpose behind studying medicine is to save the lives of the sick and this is a dire necessity. The purpose can also be to relieve the pain of the sick and this is a necessity of lesser degree. As for violating the immunity of the dead, this is disregarded in this case, as the aim here is to acquire the most important of the two benefits. It is a common rule in Sharia if two benefits are conflicting, the most important of them is given priority over the least important. And if there is conflict between two blights the least of them is given priority as to avoid the worst.
In addition, the benefit from treating disease and acquiring safety is a common benefit. While avoiding to anatomize the dead body is peculiar to that person only. It becomes then obligatory to give priority to the common benefit over the individual one which is not well established. No doubt also that parrying the harm from inflicting a living person is more important than parrying the harm from a dead person when both benefits are conflicting. Moreover, learning medicine is a common obligation on the Muslim Ummah and doing so nowadays requires learning anatomy and other medical branches. It is a rule in Sharia that anything which is needed to fulfill an Islamic obligation, becomes obligatory as well.
But if there is a corpse of a disbelieving person that can be used for the purpose of learning, or if there could be some teaching aids for anatomy without having to use a corpse, then it becomes unlawful to use the Muslim's corpse in anatomy as necessity is weighed according to its degree.
Similar Fatwas to the one above have been issued by: The council of the senior scholars in Saudi Arabia in its ninth session from its decision No. 4796 dated 13/08/1420. The Islamic Fiqh Assembly in Mecca in 1408 and al-Azhar Fatwa section in Egypt 29/02/1971.
Allah knows best.
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