brain dead is defined as Irreversible brain damage and loss of brain function, as evidenced by cessation of breathing and other vital reflexes, unresponsiveness to stimuli, absence of muscle activity, and a flat electroencephalogram for a specific length of time.

Most people believe that one who becomes brain dead has no chance at survival, although a few cases prove otherwise. The only thing that is keeping the patient alive is a respiratory machine that keeps the heart pumping. Most of patient’s vital organs have ceased to function, causing them to be pronounced as legally dead.

There are few cases where the patient has recovered after a long period of time, giving small chance of survival to those who are pronounced brain dead, but even when they do wake up they face years of trauma and rehabilitation from shock and the inactivity of their organs for so long.

So would it be haram to pull the plug on the respitory machine, as most doctors suggest you do? Or is the persons soul still in their body causing them to be alive and have a chance at survival. Should we leave their time of death to Allah? Or should we let them rest in peace to avoid pain and suffering to the patient and their family?


5 Answers 5


Although many people are told that its best to pull the plug on paitents that are brain dead, there are cases in which people have survived, such as this one.

If it is possible for someone to recover from brain death that must mean that the human soul is still in the body while they are being pronounced as "leagally dead."

death is usually defined as the end of life for a living creature.

“Allah takes soul at the time of their death and [the souls] of those that do not die during their sleep. He retains those souls for which He has ordained death, whereas He releases the rest for an appointed term.39:42”

If one soul is still in their body, their life must not have ceased, because a soul only returns to the body at the day of ressurection. So in that case, when you pull the plug and their heart stops beating and their soul leaves their body, they would die at that instance not when they are prounouced as leagly dead.

Allah says that he has determined a time for us to die, and even if you hide you will die at that moment.

Then after distress, He sent down upon you security [in the form of] drowsiness, overcoming a faction of you, while another faction worried about themselves, thinking of Allah other than the truth - the thought of ignorance, saying, "Is there anything for us [to have done] in this matter?" Say, "Indeed, the matter belongs completely to Allah ." They conceal within themselves what they will not reveal to you. They say, "If there was anything we could have done in the matter, some of us would not have been killed right here." Say, "Even if you had been inside your houses, those decreed to be killed would have come out to their death beds." [It was] so that Allah might test what is in your breasts and purify what is in your hearts. And Allah is Knowing of that within the breasts.3:135

the example in the Quran above is much like the situation of brain death, the people believe that they had no chance at survival and that nothing could have been done. But Allah reasurred them that no matter what, they would die at the instance that he planned for them.

If a person is still alive, even if it be with a respitory machine, it must mean that it isnt their time to die yet. Allah has still allowed them to live. By pulling the plug, you are interfearing with Allah's plans for that human. If it were really the time to let that person go, then Allah would do so, not us.

in the same verse above, Allah says that it is a test for us that he has determined our time of death, and we must give our trust to allah. When we pull the plug, we are not givng our trust to allah and determining for ourselves that it is better for them to die.

So in conclusion, we should trust allah for our time of death if it were best that we die at that moment then we will by the decree of allah. By pulling the plug we are interfearing with our qadr. If there is a possibilty of a brain dead person to recover, than that means that the soul is still in their body. By pulling the plug, we are killing that human.


According to the Jafari Fiqh, yes it is haram.

Question :

Some people believe that a brain-dead person is a dead person, even if the heart has not yet stopped and that it will definitely stop after that. This is what the doctors say. Is a person who has been pronounced brain-dead be considered dead, even if his heart is still working?

Answer :

The criterion in applying the term “dead” in so far as the application of religious laws goes is the common perception of people, in the sense that they would call him “dead”. And this is not proven in the situation mentioned in the question.

(Q.63) What is the ruling on patients, who are brain dead, i.e. they do not have any senses and are only kept alive through some life supporting devices? Should the doctor, following hospital orders, remove such devices and let the patient die peacefully?


If the patient is non-Muslim, there is no objection to removing such medical devices, that help the patient continue life. If the patient is Muslim, it is not permissible to do so. The request of his relatives to switch off the life supporting machine must be rendered ineffective.


Official website of Grand Ayatollah Sistani:


Don't pull the plug! It's haram. People. Have waken up after 3 months! This means pray and make Dua for you loved one. Don't shed tears make prayers Only Allan can bring a person back to life as he pleases. Doctors want to pull the plug because insurance can only cover a certain amount. In a doctor's eyes It's another patient. Be smart and think twice make dua make Umrah Give Sadaqua.


I'm an example of this situation.

I was involved in a very terrific car accident (October 2015) in which the car lost control at 86mph. The car hit into 3 parked cars, a parked van and an oncoming range rover struck my window where my head was against. It was 1am in the morning.

There was a ambulance going past in another emergency 30 seconds after the crash. They had another emergency to go to, but they seen how bad the accident was and stopped. They pulled me out of the car, realised my heartbeat was very low and gave me electric shocks. My heart suddenly started beating, and they put me on a life support machine in coma.

My parents had a number of meetings with doctors who were trying to convince my parents to switch off the machine and end my life by withdrawal of care. The doctors try to save the NHS money and try to persuade your next of kin to switch the machine off. I was seriously injured. I had suffered from a very severe traumatic brain injury, and at the same time, a spinal cord injury.

My parents had the trust in Allah that he would save me, and kept refusing to turn the life support off. After 3 months of being on a ventilator, the doctors decided that I could breathe on my own and removed the machine and I started breathing on my own. I was in hospital for several months after that. It's been 2 and a half years, and I'm still recovering. It will possibly take another 1-2 years to fully recover for me, in'sha'Allah.

So this was a really bad car accident, but I survived! (Thanks to Allah).

So if you ask me, is it haram to turn off a life support machine? Of course it is! It will be classed as murder, the second greatest sin. A person can survive. I'm a great example. I didn't feel any pain whilst in coma. If a person is brain dead, he doesn't feel any pain. I just remember waking up in hospital 3 months after the accident.

I've got my left arm which has minimal movement in it, but I still have a couple of years to make progress. I ask everyone who's reading this post to make sincere dua for me, ask Allah to give me a full recovery and heal my arm. I will ask Allah to reward all the people who make dua for me.

JazakhAllah khair Brother Aqib

But which of your lord's favours can you deny?

  • Glad to hear brother that by God's Grace and Mercy you survived and are recovering. I was curious how you were able to write this long answer with such limited mobility. Voice to text speech or some other app?
    – Ahmed
    Aug 26, 2018 at 7:16

A brain dead person is actually already dead. He is alive only with the help of machinery. A brain dead person can not feel any pain, cannot move on his own, cannot cough or inhale or eat. He can't even involuntary things such as breathe. His brain is completely dead. He is dead.

In this case two separate doctors opinion should be collected and if they agree, the patient is brain dead and there is no chance of his recovery, the life support should be taken off on his guardians will.

Islam is a very practical religion. It does not makes thing hard for us but rather makes things easy for us. An example is when a person dies, Islam tells us to mourn no more than 3 days. Some people mourn for two long which is against Islam.

In this event doctor should be the authority. They are the one who put him on life support and if they agree the patient cannot live on his own and is brain dead, life support should be removed. There should be no sin. A doctor was qualified enough to make that decision. We did not make that decision out of ignorance.

I must mention one should not haste in removing the life support. But once verified the patient is being dead and is only on live support, an appropriate decision must be made sooner.

This is my opinion not a complete answer

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