Fri 9 Saf 1435 - 13 December 2013
When is it
permissible to turn off the life support systems of a person who is thought to be dead?
Many doctors hesitate to decide the
right time to turn off the life support systems of a person who is clinically dead. The
doctor has two conflicting feelings: he may think that he is prolonging the agony of the
dying person, and that if he turns of fthe life support system, he will be giving the
person the relief of dying. On the other hand, however, he fears that by turning the life
support systems off, he is depriving the person of the opportunity to continue living.
When is it permissible to turn off the life support systems in the case of people who are
Praise be to Allaah.
In sharee’ah, a person is considered to be dead and therefore
subject to all the rulings concerning the deceased, when either of the two following signs
When his heartbeat and breathing stop completely, and the doctors decide
that they cannot be restarted.
When all the functions of his brain stop completely, and experienced
doctors and specialists state that this is irreversible, and his brain has started to
In these circumstances, it is permissible to turn off life support
systems, even if some parts of his body – such as the heart, for example – are
still functioning artificially with the help of these machines.
Majma’ al-Fiqh al-Islami, p. 36.