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Organ Donation: A Supreme Virtue

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The measure of life is not its duration, but its donation.

Organ donation is the donation of biological tissue or an organ of the human body, from a living or dead person to a living recipient in need of a transplant. Experts say that the organs from one donor can save or help as many as 50 people. Most organ and tissue donations occur after the donor has died. But some organs and tissues can be donated while the donor is alive, without the slightest harm being done to the donor. People of all ages and backgrounds can be organ donors.

Organ donation is a great boon of modern surgery. In previous ages, it was quite impossible to have this kind of donation. Organ donation is allowed in every religious tradition, including Islam. Moreover, it is a highly rewardable act. An artificial transplant is no substitute for a natural organ transplant.

According to Islam, organ donation is what is called sadqa jariyah, that is, continuous charity. For example, if a blind person receives another person’s eyes after the person’s death and is able to see, then that is sadqa jariyah, because even after his death the benefits from his donation continue to be received by another person.

Organ donation is the greatest way of showing sympathy to others. In this sense, it promotes a noble, humane spirit in society. It signifies living with the spirit of compassion for others. It means that one is desirous of extending one’s spirit of service to others even after one’s death. In organ donation, the donor loses nothing, but he gives others something which is more precious than even diamonds or gold.

There is a saying: . This saying applies most to organ donation.

Organ donation is not simply a donation. It is more appropriate to say that it is a kind of sharing. Every organ is a natural gift, and when a person donates his organs to others, he wishes others also to have a share in this gift. Organ donation is a kind of divine donation. God Almighty has given you an organ, and you receive its benefits. Every organ is entirely a divine gift. No one can make an organ, neither the donor nor the recipient. But when a person donates his organs to someone else, he does something that only the Creator can do: what a great credit for the donor!

According to the Quran, that kind of deed is a very good deed that has a lasting value (18:46). This Quranic teaching, in its extended sense, is applicable to the practice of organ donation also. In fact, organ donation is not only a moral deed, but it is also a deed that is approved of by God Almighty.

Some Muslims may argue that organ donation is like ‘muthla’ or disfigurement, and muthla is unlawful in Islam. But drawing this parallel is completely wrong. Muthla, or disfigurement, always involves extremely bad intentions, in terms of humiliation. Anything, including disfigurement, is unlawful only when it is done with bad intentions, otherwise, it is lawful. Organ donation is entirely an act of good intention. It is done with the best of wishes for fellow human beings. So, there is no similarity between disfigurement and organ donation.

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