What is the Islamic ruling on pig-to-human organ transplant?

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Last Updated on 6th May 2022

Someone wrote to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa that American doctors had transplanted a pig’s heart into a sick person’s body to save his life. He asked if it was permissible to do so. 

In a letter dated 2 February 2022, Huzooraa gave the following answer to this question:

“I have already said on some occasion that when it comes to saving human life, there is nothing wrong with this type of treatment. Alcohol is also forbidden in Islam, but its use in medicines, that result in preserving human life, is permissible. This is so because all of these conditions fall under the category of iztirar – being driven by absolute and extreme necessity. Where Allah the Exalted has stated the prohibition of the flesh of swine in the Holy Quran, there He has also given permission for its use in cases of iztirar.

“Therefore, it is permissible to perform pig-to-human heart transplantation as a treatment, as is it done on grounds of iztirar, and there is no prohibition of this.

“Some of the classical jurists and other scholars are of the opinion that it is forbidden to eat pork but pig’s hair and hide etc. are allowed to be utilised. Some of them have ventured so far as to say that it was permissible to eat its fat. However, in our view, under normal circumstances, it is not permissible to use any pork product in a way that could be regarded as consumption. Hence, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra wrote in his commentary on Surah al-Baqarah, verse 174:

“‘There is a difference of opinion among the jurists as to whether the phrase lahm al-khinzir [flesh of swine], used in the verse under discussion, also connotes fat or not. As far as language is concerned, shahm i.e. fat is considered to be different from lahm but the commentators assert that the term lahm also encompasses shahm. Although the argument of the commentators is based on their personal interpretation and the words of the lexicographers on this matter are more reliable, even so, I am of the view that pig shahm i.e. fat is not permissible. The proof I have for this is that the Holy Prophetsa said that the fat of a dead animal was unlawful [haram]. The prohibition of pig[’s flesh] and the prohibition of the dead are mentioned in the same verse and in the same words. Thus, one kind of ruling will apply to both. However, it is permissible to use pig hide as its usage does not equate its consumption.’ (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 4, tafsir Surah al-Nahl, p. 260)’

“Similarly, in response to the question on what he thought about toothbrushes ‘they were often made from pig’s hair’, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra said:

“‘Our investigation, however, shows that not all brushes are made from pig’s hair. As for the use of pig’s hair, it is permissible according to the Shariah because it is pig’s flesh that is forbidden from being consumed and no one eats hair. An eminent classical scholar has ventured so far as to say that pig fat was also lawful because pig’s lahm [flesh] had been forbidden and not its fat. Other jurists have said that although the eminence of the person issuing this fatwa cannot be disputed, his argumentation is flawed and that he is mistaken in terms of language because fat is included in the term lahm but he has understood it to be a separate word. (Al Fazl, Qadian, No. 5, Vol. 16, 16-17 July 1928, p. 7)

“Even in Judaism, pig farming and its consumption are forbidden, but since saving human life is of paramount importance, according to modern Jewish scholars, obtaining [and utilising] a heart from a pig [for this purpose] does not in any way violate Jewish dietary norms.

“Similarly, some contemporary Muslim scholars have issued a fatwa stating that if there is a fear of death of a patient, failure of any of his organs, the spread of a disease or its worsening, or severe damage to the body, then a pig’s heart valves can be transplanted into a human.”

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