Welsh organ donation policy poses troubling questions for Muslims

The Welsh government has made organ donation at death mandatory

The Welsh government is the first country in the UK to make organ donation at death mandatory. People will have to opt-out if they don’t want their organs donated after they die. It is very likely that sooner or later England and Scotland will follow Wales and make organ donation opt-out part of the law. But Sherfan Ayaz asks: what does this mean for Muslims?

The main thrust of the argument, to forcibly take people’s organs when they die is there are people with life threatening illnesses and diseases, where the only chance of survival is to receive an organ. Though this may be the public position on this law, the background to this law is very important.

This new law has come at a time when there is huge austerity and funding cuts for all departments. No doubt research has been affected by government cuts. The solution to life threatening illnesses and diseases is to research to find a medical treatment. But rather than funding and working to find the cure, the government has decided to cut funding all round and shift the onus on to people.

Not only will the people’s wealth at the time of death be distributed according to government policy but now people’s organs will also be distributed according to government policy. Such is the bizarre and distressing situation that people are in, that they have to apply to prevent themselves from being mutilated when they die.

With the excuse of needing to get the country “back to growth”, companies are working with the government to have more tax breaks, lower tax rates, more infrastructure and more loans. The government can only fulfil its agreement with the companies by cutting spending. This all means less funding for research into medical treatments.

But the same companies that are demanding help from the government are experiencing a boom. The FTSE 100 is at a record high and rather than helping people, companies are using every ounce of leeway to get what it can from the government. All in all the companies aren’t concerned about the effects of spending cuts as long as they are making huge profits.

Islamic perspective

Islam recognises the need to seek cures and as the Prophet Muhammed (saw) said: “There is no disease that Allah has sent down except that He also has sent down its treatment” [The Book of Medicine: Sahih Bukhari].

This policy of Islam pushes the Muslims to seek the cures for illnesses but not at any price. In Islam the body is sacred when dead as it is when it’s alive. The Prophet (saw) said: “Breaking the bone of a dead person is just like breaking it when he is alive.” No one would accept that a person must donate an organ when they are alive, so why is the sanctity of the body violated when they die?

The Islamic approach of seeking the cure and maintaining the sanctity of the deceased means there are no short cut answers to the medical treatment. Muslim physicians and scientists should always be seeking new medical treatments without violating a person’s sanctity due to austerity measures.

The Islamic approach also prevents businesses affecting and changing government policy. Businesses as in any society are encouraged to operate in an Islamic society governed by Shariah in its totality. Company structures, business sciences and tax systems exist in Islam to make businesses grow and make profits.

However this is not at the expense of society and definitely not at the expense of people. In Islam business has its place in society but in western societies business is given free access to government policy and we are seeing another example of the disturbing effect of free market capitalism with the Welsh government’s decision on mandatory organ donation.

You can follow Sherfan Ayaz on Twitter @Fridays_post

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