Should I accept a proposal from a g...

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

Should I accept a proposal from a girl in appreciation of a favor I will do to her family?


I wish to donate one of my kidneys to a Muslim brother who is in bad need of a kidney transplant. However, his family insists on giving me their daughter to marry without a dowry. Am I permitted to marry her on this condition?


There are several points involved in this question. I will start with the most important which is your marriage to the girl the family wants to give you in marriage, in appreciation of what you want to do. You seem to be willing to undertake a great sacrifice to help an ill person, and your action will not go unrewarded. However, you do not ask for anything in return. Yet the family wants to give you their daughter in marriage. This may be the family’s way of thanking you and making you feel that you now belong to their family. All of this may be commendable, but what about the girl herself? Is she willing to marry you? Is her willingness genuine, or does she feels pressured to marry you because of what you are going to sacrifice to help her sick brother?

The pressure may be tacit in this case. No words may be said in persuasion, but the girl may feel that she cannot refuse. She may feel that if she declines, she would appear ungrateful, and her family may think her selfish. If something happens and the prospect of donating a kidney to the patient goes wrong, then she would be blamed for it on account of her refusal to marry you. This is a very weighty pressure indeed, and it should be removed before asking her whether she consents to this marriage. I suggest that you speak to the girl alone [without the intervention of a third person], preferably on the telephone, before doing anything about the marriage. You should tell her that you want her to decide freely. You should also tell her that you appreciate the delicacy of the situation.

Therefore, she must be frank with you about her feelings. If she shows the slightest reluctance or expresses fears about the marriage, you should do the honorable thing and tell the family that you are not donating your kidney for the marriage but because you want to help the patient. You should tell them that you will go ahead with the donation, but do not wish to marry their daughter. You should also give some plausible excuse, such as asserting to them that you are happily married and do not want to marry again [or for reasons of compatibility]. You should give the family the impression that you are the one who is withdrawing from the marriage and not their daughter.

On the other hand, if you feel that the girl is genuinely willing to marry you, then you may go ahead with the marriage in the proper way. You should give her a dowry, even a nominal one, provided that she accepts such an amount. Alternatively, you may offer a larger dowry, and the girl may then forgo it as a personal gesture, which she herself is willing to make [which shall not be a precondition].

As for donating a kidney, that is also an complex subject. We have to consider several factors. These include the patient’s need to have a kidney transplant and how much your body can tolerate the removal of one kidney. Are you likely to lead a physically normal life after the donation? Furthermore, there should be a clear medical decision that the patient’s body is highly unlikely to reject the transplanted kidney. This is very important, because if the transplant takes place and the patient’s body rejects the new kidney, the patient will remain in the same position he was in before the transplant and you will have to live with one kidney.

I know a case where a patient with complete kidney failure was given a kidney by his own brother. The transplant was successful at first, but within two weeks, the body rejected the transplanted kidney. Although this operation was carried out in one of the leading hospitals in London and by one of the best surgeons in the field, all attempts to save the kidney and make the body accept it failed. The patient died a few months later. I am not aware of what happened to the donor. This shows the need to be extra careful in these cases. If all these factors are positive and encourage the transplant, then the donation may be acceptable. If the case carries a substantial degree of doubt, then it is better abandoned.

Having said that, I should add that this is different from a post-mortem transplant. In this latter case, the transplant is permissible.

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