Ramadan Edition: The Fiqh of Medicine Review

Thinking about becoming an organ donor?

“In Saudi Arabia, organs from two brain-dead persons were used for transplantation for six needy patients, between July 10 and 15 1999.” p. 274

*Original Report referenced- Ash Sharq Al- Awsat 26 July 1999 p18, Muwataq an Nawysir, reporting work of ‘The Saudi Centre for organ transplantation.’ 



I had been wondering if it is permissible to sign up as an organ donor for a while now. However, this taboo topic is rarely spoken about amongst the Muslim community. Many are quick to say we can accept transplants but stumble about its donation. In order to make an informed decision, I decided to pick up a book written by someone in the field who can really explain why we should or should not donate organs.

The late Dr Yacoub illustrates the journey through time, from cauterisation to sterile surgeries, explaining how far Islam has allowed room for change to ensure protection of both patient and practitioner. 

I enjoyed how the reader is able to understand the implications of procedures as recent as gene therapy from viewpoints of different scholars but is also left room for personal judgement. The diplomatic approach allows the reader to connect with the medical cases from a legal and islamic standpoint without feeling bias from the author which I found liberating in making a decision.

Here’s what I concluded with:

In the past, when education was mainly accessible for the wealthy, patients had less knowledge of their conditions where the doctor played a more paternal role. Now that education in the West is much more accessible and advanced communication via the web has allowed more people to research and understand complex conditions the importance of patient autonomy has risen. 

Reading this book helped me understand the foundation of Law and how far Islam agrees with Western judgement on organ transplantation as well as cloning, abortion and euthanasia. Many accounts show that Anglo Saxon laws have progressed in a similar direction as Islamic views. For example, with our ageing population, dying with dignity has caused euthanasia to become a major issue. Here, the laws have been set in order to protect the majority so that a few cannot use the right to take life to their advantage; abusing the system. 

Therefore, in terms of becoming an organ donor, I am grateful to all those who have contributed to the healthcare system of today, enabling us to share organs with patients in need in a humane manner. It is this evolution from the black market to sterile, controlled and documented surgery which now allows muslims to donate and transplant organs. 

Please note: There should be a living will from the donor and there are exceptions which need to be considered for reproductive organs as well as non-regenerative organ transplantation with regards to the state of death; brain/cardiac death. Before committing please read up on this and discuss with family, especially the rights of Permanent Vegetative State patients and anencephalic infants.



“The aim of this work is not to say that islamic fiqh had it all. No, rather it is to put forward that islamic fiqh is compatible with present day views in medical law; and has the ability to move on with time.” p. 286



Overall, the book coming from a doctor with a law doctorate makes the concepts easier to relate to from both perspectives. I respect the active effort Dr Yacoub made to differentiate facts from opinions. This allows the reader room to make their own decision without feeling intimidated by the author’s views which is crucial when making these life-changing decisions. 

Above all, I commend Dr Yacoub for forming an all inclusive piece of work. Not only does this thesis shake hands with the West but also between the four major schools of islamic thought. At a time of such division, this shines a whole new perspective on the very essence of growth people from all walks of life are trying to achieve. 

First Published – 2001       

Rating – 4.5/5


  • Basis of Jurisprudence
  • Patients’ rights and responsibilities
  • Liabilities of medical practitioners
  • Euthanasia
  • Prevention and termination of pregnancy
  • Reproduction and Cloning
  • Transplantation


StructureThe book can be read in any order with separate source notes provided at the end of each chapter.

The font size and page format make a comfortable read for both eyes and hands. 

Clear and simple formatting with bold subheadings split the chapters into small pockets of information; easy to follow and return to at a later time. 

The four major schools of thought are integrated in the text for the analysis of the Quran and supporting scriptures to portray how individuals interpret the same data. 

The input of specific cases, such as Diane Blood’s 1997 win after a 3 year battle to pregnancy using sperm from late husband. This approach demonstrates how the legal system interacts with medical situations, showing how far it works for both patient and doctor.

Number of pages: 349

Settings: UK, USA and the Middle East


The late Dr Yacoub was a Cardiothoracic Surgeon from Sudan who practised in Sudan, UK, Scotland and the USA. During the peak of his career he acted upon his interest in the legal system as a Law student in Cairo to gaining a Jurisprudence doctorate from London SOAS in 2000. Thus joining the academic department of surgery well past his retirement age where he continued to provide support until sadly passing away due to Parkinson’s disease in 2013. 

Sixteen years on, this piece of work remains an exemplary model for all societies to discuss difficult topics more openly and move forward as a more integrated community. 

Ahmed Abdel Aziz Yacoub 1931 – 2013  

Click to buy (Amazon)


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