The End of Human Life in Light of the Opinions of Muslim Scholars and Medical Science
There is no single statement either in the "Qur'an" or "Sunnah" (Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] traditions) which defines the precise moment of death or even gives a hint or a clue to such a moment. In the absence of such a text "Nass", one has to seek the learned opinion of scientists/physicians, while taking into account the Islamic scholars' views of the spirit, life, and death. Islamic jurists believe that life begins-by "Allah's" (God) order -- with the breathing-in of the spirit into the fetus. Life thus must end and death occur with the departure of the spirit from the body. Muslim jurists believe that the spirit is the source of perceptions, behavior, and actions of the body (voluntary movements). They further believe that the body is the vehicle through which the spirit functions. When the body "spoils" and cannot respond to the spirit's orders (will), the spirit departs, i.e., death occurs. According to current medical knowledge, the brain controls all bodily functions. From an Islamic viewpoint then, the spirit acts through the brain. When the brain is damaged and fails completely to respond to the spirit's will, all other organs fail. The complete and irrevocable failure of the brain (defined by science as brain death) could then be the moment of death.
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