I. Details about the situation

Fatima’s father had an unfortunate car accident on his way to work and his condition is quite dire. The physicians have notified Fatima’s family that his road to recovery is unlikely, but if he were to recover, he would be in the hospital for an extended period. Naturally, this would cause stress on him and Fatima’s entire family.

Thus, the doctor’s advice is to sign a document known as a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. In other words, in case Fatima’s father stops breathing or his heart stops beating, the doctors, following the DNR order, would not perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) or take other measures to help him regain control of his own breathing, and his life would likely end.

What should Fatima do?

II. Background

In Islamic law, life is sacrosanct, for the Quran states, “Take not a life which God has made sacred.”1 and the attempt to save anyone’s life overrides all other related matters such as financial strain or emotional distress.

III. Ruling

Although deferring to experts (e.g., physicians) is the most desirable action to take in many matters, in this unique and challenging case, the potential for Fatima’s father to survive the illness outweighs the advice and recommendations of the physicians. Though his road to recovery may be challenging, and the stress on the family may accumulate, the potential for life, which is in the hands of God, take precedence.

IV. Action

Fatima and her family must opt out of signing the DNR order, and seek for the physician to make every attempt to save her father’s life.

1.The Holy Quran 6:151, Muhammad Sarwar translation.


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