Reaching Consensus on Organ Donation

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Jay Willoughby



On July 20, 2016, IIIT held a forum entitled “Reaching Consensus on Organ
Donation,” in collaboration with the Washington Regional Transplant Community
(WRTC;, to hear presentations by medical
professionals, community leaders, religious scholars, and social scientists. Each
of the four panels was followed by a robust Question and Answer session.
Panel 1: Conceptual Framework. Lori Bingham (president and CEO,
WRTC) outlined the organ donation process in terms of which organizations
and partners are involved, how medical suitability is determined, consulting
with the surviving members, and deciding who receives the available organ.
After listing the agencies and the high degree of regulation involved, she
thanked Imam Johari Abdul-Malik (outreach director, Dar al-Hijrah Islamic
Center) for his help in reaching out to area Muslims, some of whom decline
to donate their organs on religious grounds.
Muzammil Siddiqi (chairman, Fiqh Council of North America) said that
such decisions require ijtihād, for there are no relevant Qur’anic verses or hadiths.
Although widely accepted by jurists, questions remain, such as which
organs can be donated, should this be encouraged before or after death, can a
family donate an organ if the deceased died without a will, does donating “deform”
the body, how is death determined, is the patient obliged to receive it,
can he/she buy it or should it be made available for free, and so on.
In his “Organization of Islamic Legal Ethics.”Abdulzziz Sachedina (professor
and IIIT Chair in Islamic Studies, George Mason University) stated that
the main issue is procuring organs, a topic surrounded by “cultural impediments
and religious misunderstandings.” People are asking to whom does the
body belong (the person or God), can one donate that which will not grow
back, and if the donated organ will be returned on the Day of Judgment. As
this is a modern issue, imams and scholars need to identiy ethical grounds in ...

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