30-06-2006, 07:33 PM
Is it permissible to carry out dissections on cadavers to enhance one's knowledge of anatomy? I applied for a summer job at my uni that requires defasciating cadavers. I thought it would give me an opportunity to learn more anatomy. I got the job, but I am having second thoughts. I really need to know what Islam says about this.
30-06-2006, 07:56 PM
this may be of help. Shaykh Faraz didn't say it was haram in his reply, and i am sure he would have if it were:
and sayyidi shaykh afifi al-akiti states:
"O' servants of Allah, seek treatment for your ailments, for surely He who has created the disease has also given a cure for it. Those who are knowledgeable will be able to discover this cure." (Related by Bukhari)
Aisha' narrated that the prophet (s.A.w.) said:
"Indeed the Believers would be hardly pressed, and indeed every believer who is to suffer even from a sting or pain, Allah would as a reward, erase one of his sins and increase his rewards a degree." (Related by Ahmad, Ibn Sa'd, al-Bayhaq & al-Hakim)
The opinion among most Fuqaha (jurists) is that seeking medical treatment is either recommended (Mandub) or obligatory. There are many Ahadith which encourage the Muslims to seek medical treatment. Therefore it is up to the patient to decide whether or not if he or she wants to undergo organ transplant.
In regards to the prohibition of violating and mutilating the dead, it has been narrated that a man was digging a grave and he stumbled on some bones, the Prophet of Allah (s.A.w.) said:
"Breaking the bones of the dead is like breaking the bones of the living."
(Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud & Ibn Majah)
It is a general rule in Fiqh in which it is prohibited to violate, harm or mutilate the dead body whether it is a Muslim or non-Muslim cadaver, as an act of revenge, showing disrespect or doing so without any good reason. There are exceptions to this general rule especially in the light when there is a Necessity (Darurah).
"The Fuqaha of the Maliki and the Hanbal schools state that it is impermissible to dissect a dead pregnant lady in order to retrieve the baby, as it is difficult to determine whether the baby is alive. Because of this uncertainty, it should not be a cause to violate the sanctity of the dead. On the other hand, the Fuqaha of Shafi'i allows this dissection to be carried out. Besides, to dissect a dead body in order to remove valuable goods is allowed according to Jumhur (majority of scholars or the three Madhdhabs as opposed to just one) except the Hanbal school."
(Ad-Durr al-Mukhtar 3/246)
Nowadays, it is possible for medical authorities to determine whether the baby is alive or not when such cases arise. The uncertainty that some Fuqaha had, is thus removed.
In Fiqh al-Islam wa Adillatuh (7/3), the author concludes:
"Based on the rulings which allows dissection on dead bodies in specific cases, therefore any dissection or operation done on the dead body due to a significant necessity is allowable. For example, dissection for the knowledge of medicine and dissection in order to find the cause of death to convict criminals by which there are no other avenues to come to the truth (al-Haq). These are based on the Shari'ah principle of establishing justice ('Adil) in any ruling given by the court, in order to avoid injustice (Dhalim) from happening to the innocent or to ensure the guilty not to escape from the punishment as a result of his crimes.
Even though such dissections are allowed, it should be done within necessary limits without overdoing it. Besides, the sanctity of the dead body has to be respected and handled properly. After the investigation, bits and pieces should be gathered, the body should be closed by suturing it up and finally shrouding the body.
It is also allowable to perform any organ transplant such as the human heart or the eye. This must be with the condition that the donor is proven to be dead by a specialist in the field. This is because the priority is given to the living. The success of recovering vision for a human is a wonderful gift and is demanded by the Shara'."
In al-Ifta', The Permanent Committee for Legal Rulings (Fatawa) in Saudi Arabia conclude the following regarding dissection on dead bodies:
Dissection to discover if there is a criminal act causing the death is sanctioned.
Dissection to see if there is a contagious disease and to then conclude how to stop its spread is sanctioned.
Dissection for educational and training purposes is accepted.
M. Afifi al-Akiti
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