Taking terminally ill patients off ...

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

Taking terminally ill patients off life support machines


no. 11 for the year 2006 which includes a question on the ruling of taking terminally ill patients off life support machines and the difference between this and euthanasia.


It is permissible to take terminally ill patients off life support machines which sustain life without improving a patient's prognosis. Such patients are declared 'clinically dead' and are taken off life support only upon the recommendation of a physician. However, it is impermissible to take patients off machines that are for other purposes such as suction machines used to aspirate fluids to facilitate breathing.
Taking a 'clinically dead' patient off life support is different from what is called 'mercy killings' which involves a patient asking his physician to end his life or the physician making an independent decision to end his patient's suffering and pain. This is definitely prohibited since, in this case, a patient's life can continue and is not dependent upon life support machines; it is the patient himself or his physician who seek to end his life due to extreme pain. In such a case, ending a patient's life is tantamount to killing a soul which Allah has prohibited except by [legal] right.

Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah has previously issued a fatwa on Euthanasia under no. 2689 dated 7/11/2004.

Allah Almighty knows best.

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