Hindu Dharma and organ donation
A guide to organ donation and Hindu beliefs
There are many references that support the concept of organ donation in Hindu scriptures. Daan is the original word in Sanskrit for donation meaning selfless giving. In the list of the ten Niyamas (virtuous acts) Daan comes third.
Life after death is a strong belief of Hindus and is an ongoing process of rebirth. The law of karma decides which way the soul will go in the next life.
Organ donation is an integral part of the Hindu way of life, as guided by the Vedas. That which sustains is accepted and promoted as Dharma (righteous living). Scientific treatises form an important part of the Vedas – Sage Charaka deals with internal medicine while Sage Sushruta includes features of organ and limb transplants.
“…it is said that the soul is invisible…knowing this you should not grieve for the body.”
Bhagavad Gita, chapter 2:25
“Of all the things that it is possible to donate, to donate your own body is infinitely more worthwhile.”
“The important issue for a Hindu is that which sustains life should be accepted and promoted as Dharma (righteous living). Organ donation is an integral part of our livin.”
Hasmukh Velji Shah, International Trustee, World Council of Hindus
“Organ donation is in keeping with Hindu beliefs as it can help to save the lives of others.”
Mr Om Parkash Sharma MBE, President, National Council of Hindu Temples
Christianity and Organ Donation
A guide to organ donation and Christian beliefs
The Christian faith is based upon the revelation of God in the life of Jesus Christ. Throughout his life Jesus taught people to love one another and he proved his love for the world upon the cross. It seems in keeping with this that Christians consider organ donation as a genuine act of love and a way of following Jesus’ example. This act of love then becomes part of a Christian discipleship or faith journey that is motivated by compassion to help someone else and demonstrates a sense of social responsibility. Sacrifice and helping others are consistent themes in Christianity, which teaches the principle of seeking for others what you hope others would do for you. Enabling life to be lived as fully as possible is consistent with the teaching of the Son of God
“…freely you have received, freely give”
Matthew, chapter 10:8
Christians should be encouraged to help others in need. Discussing organ donation with family and friends is a responsible and thoughtful act.
“I hope that Christian people will seriously and positively consider organ donation. The ready willingness to donate an organ is a clear sign of that sacrificial self-giving for others patterned by Jesus Christ.”
David Ebor: Archbishop of York
“Every organ transplant has its source in a decision of great ethical value…Here lies the nobility of a gesture which is a genuine act of love. There is a need to instil in people’s hearts a genuine and deep love that can find expression in the decision to become an organ donor.”
His Holiness Pope John Paul II
“Any act that can save life, such as organ donation, is a great thing and quite acceptable within our faith.”
Council of African & Afro-Caribbean Churches (UK)
“The Methodist Church has consistently supported organ donation and transplantation in appropriate circumstances, as a means through which healing and health may be made possible.”
Methodist Church UK
Islam and Organ Donation
A guide to organ donation and Muslim beliefs
In 1995 the Muslim Law (Shariah) Council UK issued a fatwa (religious opinion) on organ donation. The council resolved that:
- The council supports organ transplantation as a means of alleviating pain or saving life on the basis of the rules of the Shariah
- Muslims may carry donor cards
- Rights of indian's children
- The next of kin of a dead person, in the absence of a card or an expressed wish to donate their organs, may give permission to obtain organs from the body to save other people’s lives.
The fatwa is based on the Islamic principle of al-darurat tubih al-mahzurat (necessities overrule prohibition). Normally, violating the human body, whether living or dead, is forbidden in Islam – but the Shariah believes this can be overruled when saving another person’s life.
However there are also a significant number of Muslim scholars who believe that organ donation is not permissible and hold the view that this does not fall under the criteria of the Islamic principle of al-darurat tubih al-mahzurat (necessities overrule prohibition) due to other overriding Islamic principles. Both viewpoints take their evidence from the Qur’an and the Ahaadith and therefore individual Muslims should make a decision according to their understanding of the Shariah or seek advice from their local Imam or scholar.
The Muslim Law Council UK fatwa draws on one of the basic aims of the Muslim faith: saving life.
“Whosoever saves the life of one person it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.”
Holy Qur’an, chapter 5:32
“Whosoever helps another will be granted help from Allah.”
Prophet Muhammed (pbuh)
“If you happened to be ill and in need of a transplant, you certainly would wish that someone would help you by providing the needed organ.”
Sheikh Dr MA Zaki Badawi, Principal, Muslim College, London
Sikhism and Organ Donation
A guide to organ donation and Sikh beliefs
Sikh philosophy and teachings place great emphasis on the importance of giving and putting others before oneself.
“Where self exists, there is no God Where God exists, there is no self.”
Guru Nanak, Guru Granth Sahib
The Sikh faith stresses the importance of performing noble deeds. There are many examples of selfless giving and sacrifice in Sikh teachings by the ten Gurus and other Sikhs.
Sikhs believe life after death is a continuous cycle of rebirth but the physical body is not needed in this cycle – a person’s soul is their real essence.
“The dead sustain their bond with the living through virtuous deeds.”
Guru Nanak, Guru Granth Sahib
“The Sikh religion teaches that life continues after death in the soul, and not the physical body. The last act of giving and helping others through organ donation is both consistent with, and in the spirit of, Sikh teachings.”
Dr Indarjit Singh OBE, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations UK
Endorsed by Sikh Authorities in Amritsar, Punjab
“The true servants of God are those who serve Him through helping others.”
Guru Nanak, Guru Granth Sahib