The Soul: Why Medical Practitioners and Islamic Scholars Do Not Accept Brain Death Concept

Nor Aina Mohd Khotib, Universiti Utara Malaysia
Noor Naemah Abdul Rahman, University of Malaya
Shaikh Mohd Saifuddeen, Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia


The concept of brain death refers to the irreversible loss of brain function which includes the brain stem. The diagnosis of brain death is a controversial issue among Muslim scholars and medical experts because it involves the pronouncement of death of a patient whose heart is still beating with the assistance of a ventilator (breathing apparatus). Many countries recognise brain death as true death. However, there are religious scholars and medical experts who disagree with the concept of brain death because they believe that the soul still exists in one’s body although the brain has been diagnosed as dead. From their point of view, the heartbeat shows that the soul is still present in the body. From the perspective of Islam, a person is considered dead when there is separation between the soul and body. This paper will discuss the arguments pertaining to the soul which have been used in rejecting the concept and diagnosis of brain death.


Brain death, cardiac death, death, soul, medical practitioner, ventilator.

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