The moral code in Islam and organ donation in Western countries: reinterpreting religious scriptures to meet utilitarian medical objectives

Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 9:11 (2014)
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Abstract

End-of-life organ donation is controversial in Islam. The controversy stems from: scientifically flawed medical criteria of death determination; invasive perimortem procedures for preserving transplantable organs; and incomplete disclosure of information to consenting donors and families. Data from a survey of Muslims residing in Western countries have shown that the interpretation of religious scriptures and advice of faith leaders were major barriers to willingness for organ donation. Transplant advocates have proposed corrective interventions: reinterpreting religious scriptures, reeducating faith leaders, and utilizing media campaigns to overcome religious barriers in Muslim communities. This proposal disregards the intensifying scientific, legal, and ethical controversies in Western societies about the medical criteria of death determination in donors. It would also violate the dignity and inviolability of human life which are pertinent values incorporated in the Islamic moral code. Reinterpreting religious scriptures to serve the utilitarian objectives of a controversial end-of-life practice, perceived to be socially desirable, transgresses the Islamic moral code. It may also have deleterious practical consequences, as donors can suffer harm before death. The negative normative consequences of utilitarian secular moral reasoning reset the Islamic moral code upholding the sanctity and dignity of human life

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