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Q&A: Blood Donation and Testing

(a) People donate blood to blood banks for free, for reasons that are well known. The blood banks carry out checks on this blood and if it is found to be safe, it is then used on other patients. But if the blood is found to be contaminated or if it has any type if virus such as Hepatitis or AIDS for instance, then the blood is disposed off. Now we require this contaminated blood for our laboratory to carry out investigations. Is it permissible for us to obtain this blood from blood banks free of charge and carry out tests on it, and then safely dispose of the remaining quantity of blood without causing any harm to anyone or the environment?
(b) In some cases, we purify the virus-contaminated blood of the virus during the investigation process which is complex and expensive and we are able to isolate the virus which is then used in our laboratory to develop scientific research and manufacture reagents. We then sell the other portions to different laboratories, and if we are unable to isolate viruses, we purchase such viruses from other laboratories.
Is it permissible to buy and sell viruses for such a purpose?
Before we reply, we would like to clarify the following:
1. Blood is unclean and forbidden.
As for the evidence of human blood being unclean, there is a hadith narrated in Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Asma (ra), where she says: "A woman came to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and said: ‘What do we do when one of us soils her dress with the blood of menstruation?' The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم told her: ‘she must take hold of the blood spot, rub it and wash it with water and then pray with it.'"
The very fact that the dress was ordered to be washed before one could pray in it points to blood being impure and unclean.
As for the evidence of it being prohibited to eat and drink etc., Allah سبحانه وتعالى says:
حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةُ وَالدَّمُ وَلَحْمُ الْخِنْزِيرِ
"Haram for you are carrion (al-Maitah), blood and pork." [al-Maaida, 5:3]
قُلْ لَا أَجِدُ فِي مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيَّ مُحَرَّمًا عَلَىٰ طَاعِمٍ يَطْعَمُهُ إِلَّا أَنْ يَكُونَ مَيْتَةً أَوْ دَمًا مَسْفُوحًا أَوْ لَحْمَ خِنْزِيرٍ فَإِنَّهُ رِجْسٌ أَوْ فِسْقًا أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ بِهِ ۚ فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ غَيْرَ بَاغٍ وَلَا عَادٍ فَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
"Say: ‘I do not find, in what has been revealed to me, any food it is haram to eat except for carrion, flowing blood, and pork - for that is unclean - or some deviance consecrated to other than Allah. But if anyone is forced to eat it, without desiring to or going to excess in it, your Lord is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.'" [al-An'aam, 6:145]
2. Extracting benefit from unclean and prohibited things is forbidden, and among the evidences for it are:
Bukhari has narrated on the authority of Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah (r.a) that he heard the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said while in Makkah:
I heard the Messenger of Allah, in the year of the Conquest of Makkah, saying, "Allah and His Messenger made illegal the trade of alcohol, dead animals, pigs and idols." The people asked, "O Messenger of Allah! What about the fat of dead animals, for it was used for greasing the boats and the hides; and people use it for lights?" He said, "No, it is illegal." The Messenger of Allah further said, "May Allah curse the Jews, for Allah made the fat (of animals) illegal for them, yet they melted the fat and sold it and ate its price."
In Tahdheeb al Aathaar of Tabari, there is a narration by Jaber (ra) who says that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
لا تَنْتَفِعوا مِنَ الميْتَةِ بِشَيْءٍ
"Do not utilise or take advantage of the dead at all."
The skin of the dead is an exception to the above as has been narrated in Abu Dawood on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas and Wahb from Maymoonah, who says that a sheep was given to her servant as charity and it died. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم passed by it and said: "Have you tanned its skin or used it?" They said, "O Messenger of Allah it is dead. He صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "Indeed its eating is forbidden."
Bukhari has a narration on the authority of Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah (r.a) that he heard the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم say in the year of Conquest of Makkah whilst he was in Makkah:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ حَرَّمَ بَيْعَ الْخَمْرِ
"Indeed Allah and His Messenger have forbidden the sale of intoxicants."
Bukhari has another narration on the authority of Anas (r.a). He says that on that day I was at the house of Abu Talha (r.a) and al-Fadikh wine was being served when the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم ordered his man to announce "Beware,! Wine has been forbidden". So Abu Talha asked me to spill the wine so I came out and spilled the wine. The streets of Madinah were flowing with wine.
Abu Dawood has a narrartion on the authority of Abu Hurairah (r.a) that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ حَرَّمَ الْخَمْرَ وَثَمَنَهَا وَحَرَّمَ الْمَيْتَةَ وَثَمَنَهَا وَحَرَّمَ الْخِنْزِيرَ وَثَمَنَهُ
"Allah has forbidden wine and its price; forbidden carrion and its price; and forbidden pork and its price."
3. Medical treatment is an exception to this prohibition and use of prohibited and unclean things is allowed for medical purposes.
The evidence that medical treatment is an exception and not haram is substantiated in a narration by Muslim on the authority of Anas (ra), where he says that "the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم granted concession to Abd al-Rahman b. Auf and Zubair b. 'Awwam for the wearing of a silk shirt during the journey and because of an itch which they both had or any other disease from which both of them had been suffering." Wearing of silk is forbidden for men, but is allowed for medical reasons.
Similarly, there are narrations in Sunan an Nasai, Abu Dawood, and Tirmidhi: Abdur Rahman bin Turfah reports from his grandfather ‘Arfajah bin As'ad who says that "he had his nose cut off at the battle of al-Kilab and got a silver nose, but it developed a stench, so the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم ordered him to get a gold nose." Gold is forbidden for men, but its use is allowed for medical purposes.
As for the use of unclean things not being haram for medical purposes, it is narrated in Bukhari on the authority of Anas (ra): "Some people came to Madinah and (they became ill, so) the Prophet ordered them to go to the herd of (Milch) she-camels and told them to go out and drink the camels' urine and milk (as a medicine). So they went and drank it..."
When the people became ill, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم permitted them to use ‘urine' which is unclean. Bukhari has narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah (ra), he says: A Bedouin stood up and started urinating in the mosque. The people caught him but the Prophet ordered them to leave him and to pour a bucket or a tumbler of water over the place where he had passed the urine. The Prophet then said, "You have been sent to make things easy and not to make them difficult."
4. In origin, things are permitted unless there is evidence to the contrary, the evidence for this are the Words of Allah سبحانه وتعالى:
أَلَمْ تَرَوْا أَنَّ اللَّهَ سَخَّرَ لَكُمْ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْض
"Do you not see that Allah has subjected to you everything in the heavens and earth." [Luqmaan, 31:20]
أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ سَخَّرَ لَكُمْ مَا فِي الْأَرْضِ
"Do you not see that Allah has made everything on the earth subservient to you." [al-Hajj, 22:65]
وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمْ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا مِنْهُ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
"And He has made everything in the heavens and everything on the earth subservient to you. It is all from Him. There are certainly Signs in that for people who reflect." [al-Jaathiya, 45:13]
From these texts, it becomes clear that the Legislator has permitted all things, which means that they are allowed, i.e. the opposite of haram. Hence the prohibition of certain things requires a text that makes an exception to it being permissible in origin. Thus the original rule for things is permissibility unless there is a text providing evidence for it being prohibited.
This rule is different to actions which in origin are subject to the Shara'i commands which makes actions as either: Obligatory, recommended, etc. and this requires a reason, condition etc. as is known in the science of the principles (Usool).
Hence the answer to the two questions would be as follows:
Firstly: If the investigations on the contaminated blood are medical/pathological investigations, i.e. they are meant to diagnose a disease and treat it with appropriate medication etc. Then these are permitted. But if the investigations on the contaminated blood are not related to any medical/pathological investigation or finding a medicine to cure such a disease etc., then these are not be permitted.
This is because blood is unclean and forbidden and as such it is permitted only for medical purposes.
Secondly: If the isolation of the ‘virus' from the blood is for carrying out investigations and medical research, then it is permitted, i.e. if the contaminated blood is subjected to laboratory tests in order to isolate the virus from it and this is done with the objective of carrying out medical tests on the virus so that appropriate medicine could be developed, then it is permitted.
However, if the process of isolating the virus from the blood was meant for non-medical purposes, then it is not permitted because the contaminated blood is impure and forbidden, and as such taking any advantage from it is not permitted.
Thirdly: The viruses are clean since there is no evidence reported on their prohibition, thus it is clean in accordance with the above-mentioned Shara'i rule. Thus if the virus was found alone/isolated i.e. not contaminated with the blood, then its sale, purchase as well carrying out any investigation will be permitted. As a matter of fact the scientific tests must be meant for the benefit of human beings and not to cause harm because the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "Do no harm and do not be harmed."
22nd Safar 1432 A.H
26th January 2011 C.E


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