Asking people to donate blood.

Q. Is it permissible to ask people to donate blood even if there is no specific need at the time of donation? Please note that overall there is a shortage of blood in the country which is available to be donated.

A. The question which has been asked surrounds the issue of Blood donation and as such, it is important for one to understand the Islamic law regarding this issue. Many of the contempory Jurists of Islam, have written on this topic and have given the guidelines of the Sacred Shariah with respect to permissibility and impermissibility.

In this regard, the late grand Mufti of Pakistan, Mufti Muhammad Shafi has written extensively on this subject and has dealt with the issue of ‘Blood Transfusion’ in his book, ‘Islam on Grafting and Transplanting of Human Organs’. Having discussed the matter at length, showing the opinions of the great Scholars of the past including that of the Imams of Fiqh, Mufti Shafi (AS) identified that the statement of the general body of Scholars allude to the fact that under normal circumstances, blood transfusion is not permissible for two reasons, namely:

(1) Blood is a component part of the human body, and the use of a human part is not permissible.
(2) Blood is impure and hence, prohibited.

However, taking into consideration the aspect of need and necessity where there may be certain allowances in the Shariah, Mufti Shafi has mentioned the following injunctions, as given by the general body of contempory scholars. He writes:

(1) Blood transfusion is lawful when there is a necessity for it and where there is a definite risk to the life of a patient, and on the opinion of a specialist doctor, there is no other way of saving his life.

(2) Blood transfusion is also lawful when there is a need for it, that is, there be no risk to life, but in the opinion of a specialist doctor, restoration of health may not be possible without it.

(3) When there is an option of not giving (donating) blood, one must abstain from it, since its allowance was in the case of necessity and there is no present need.

(4) When blood transfusion is meant for additional benefit and there is no risk to life or danger for the disease to be prolonged, then it is not permissible at all. (Islam on grafting and transplanting of Human Organs pg 39-40).

The same Fatawa has been issued by the Permanent Committee of Scholars of Saudi Arabia including the Muftis of the Haram, that is, Shaikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz, Shaikh Muhammad bin Salih Al Uthaimin and other great Scholars. This fatawa is mentioned in Fatawa Islamiyah Vol 4 pg. 434 and states, ‘Blood is impure and it is not permissible to use or to take as a cure for anything. It makes no difference if it is used by way of the mouth or the arteries or other than that.’ This is due to the reported Hadiths concerning the prohibition of using impurities of that which is forbidden for medical treatment. Among these evidences is the Hadith of Umm Darda. She said that the Messenger of Allah said, ‘Verily, Allah send down the illness and the cure, and He has made a cure for every illness. Therefore, treat each with medication, but do not seek medication with that which is Haram (forbidden).’ (Abu Dawood)

This was recorded by Abu Dawood, Ibn Masood (RA) said concerning intoxicants, ‘Verily, Allah did not place your cure in what He has forbidden for you’. This was mentioned by Al Bukhari.

However, if the illness causes the man to reach a situation of dire necessity and he fears that he may die if he does not use the blood, then the necessities make prohibited things lawful. Allah, the Most High, said, But whoever is forced by severe hunger with no inclination to sin, then surely Allah is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful’. (5:3)

So if the situation caused the sick person to reach a state of fearing death for himself, it is permissible to transfer blood to him and it may even be obligatory to save his life’. The Permanent Committee (Fatawa Islamiyah Vol. 4 pg.434-435).

In light of that which has been ruled by these great jurists of Islam, it is evident that blood transfusion is only allowed in cases of dire need and necessity. Once this situation does not exist, it will not be allowed for one to donate/give blood.

With this explanation, it can be clearly understood that requesting Muslims to donate blood to a ‘blood bank’ which will then be ‘stored’ and used when/if the need arises, does not fall within the allowance which has been granted by the jurists.

In our understanding, storing blood is not a necessity which renders a prohibited thing Halal (lawful). Instead, identifying persons who would be ready to donate their blood in dire cases of necessity can be done and when the need arises, they can be called upon.

Their act of donating blood at that time becomes allowed due to the necessity in saving someone’s life or health. However, donating/giving blood before that would not be allowed since there is no need to save one’s life at that moment.

Based on that which is clear to me from the explanations and fatwas of the great jurists of Islam, my opinion on this matter is that it would not be permissible to request Muslims to donate blood when there is no specific need at the time of donation.

The Shariah has allowed the donation of blood at the time of necessity and not necessarily on account of ‘a shortage (of blood)’. It is hightly possible that there may be a shortage of a thing, but it does not mean that it is a necessity. The term ‘shortage’ can refer to the state of a thing which is not within its required or expected amount. This however, does not mean that people are dying and suffering on account of its shortage. Hence, a thing being declared under the rule of ‘shortage’ may not fall under the category of being a necessity.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan