RICHMOND, November 1, 2016 – Last week, Donate Life America (DLA), a national non-profit organization committed to increasing the number of donated organs, eyes and tissue available to save and heal lives, presented Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, with the James S. Wolf, M.D., Courage Award at DLA’s annual meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The James S. Wolf, M.D., Courage Award is named in honor of the transplant surgeon pioneer who founded the Coalition on Donation (now Donate Life America). The award is presented annually to an individual outside the professional donation and transplantation community, who has: played a significant national role in helping to educate the public about organ, eye and tissue donation and promoting donor registration; expressed personal commitment and enthusiasm in educating the public; sought to reach audiences on a national level; and demonstrated the ‘service above self’ attitude in their mission.
The Washington, D.C. metropolitan region has the highest concentration of newly entered Muslims in the U.S. When given with the option of donation, the overwhelming majority of family members who self-identified as Muslim, did not authorize donation on behalf of their deceased loved one. The singular reason that was given: “It’s against my religion.” Similarly, these case reviews also revealed that none of these deceased Muslim individuals was a registered organ, eye and tissue donor. Washington Regional Transplant Community’s (WRTC) Community Affairs team needed to launch a highly strategic public education and community outreach initiative designed to educate those of the Islamic faith that organ donation is permitted in their religion. WRTC needed a partner, an advocate and a leader in the Islamic community. Imam Johari Abdul-Malik is the outreach director at the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Northern Virginia, one of the largest Islamic Centers in North America. He has a Master’s degree in Genetics and Human Genetics, is currently completing his PhD course work in Bioethics at Georgetown University’s Kennedy Center for Ethics, and is a passionate advocate for organ, eye and tissue donation.
In 2015, Imam Johari agreed to partner with WRTC in its efforts to educate those of the Islamic faith that organ donation is allowed by their religion, and they are empowered to give the gift of life. His partnership has been exclusively on a volunteer basis without any form of compensation—and it has had an incredible effect:
- In 2015, through his contacts at the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA), he secured a 60-minute panel presentation on organ donation at the Islamic Society of North America’s (ISNA) Annual Convention. This Convention attracts almost 50,000 people and is the largest gathering of Muslims in the country.
- In 2016 he facilitated a critically important meeting between WRTC and the International Institute Islamic of Thought (IIIT), the preeminent Muslim think tank in the country. It was at this meeting that IIIT agreed that the topic of organ donation, and the myths and misconceptions around it within the Muslim community, needed to be discussed among Islamic experts.
- On July 20th, 2016, Imam Johari, WRTC and IIIT hosted a national Fiqh Forum titled, Reaching Consensus on Organ Donation: A Call to the American Muslim Community where national leaders in Islamic religion and law joined national leaders in the donation community of practice including AOPO*, AMAT*, DLA*, HRSA*, MOTTEP*, UNOS* and WRTC*.
- Executive Members of the Fiqh Council of North America also attended the Forum and agreed to examine and review this matter to decide if they will issue a fatwa to American Muslims that communicates permissibility of organ donation.
- Two moths later, The Fiqh Council of North America met during this year’s ISNA Convention and reached a consensus that the Council will be issuing a fatwa to American Muslims in support of, and permissibility for, organ eye and tissue donation. Further announcements and promotion of this development are forthcoming.
“I am deeply humbled and grateful to partner with WRTC and Donate Life to contribute, in any way I can, to this lifesaving work,” said Abdul-Malik.
Donate Life America is honored to present this year’s James S. Wolf Courage Award to Imam Johari Abdul-Malik for his incredible commitment to ensure that Muslims across the United States know they have the power to save lives through donation.
To find out more about Donate Life America and organ, eye and tissue donation—and to register your decision to be a donor, please visit www.donatelife.net.
*AOPO – Association of Organ Procurement Organizations
*AMAT – Association for Multicultural Affairs in Transplantation
*HRSA – Health Resources Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
*MOTTEP – Minority Organ and Tissue Transplant Education Program
*UNOS – United Network for Organ Sharing
About Donate Life America
Donate Life America is a 501(c)3 nonprofit alliance of national organizations and Donate Life State Teams across the United States committed to increasing the number of donated organs, eyes and tissue available for transplant to save and heal lives. Donate Life America manages and promotes the national brand for donation, Donate Life℠; develops and executes effective multi-media donor education programs; motivates the American public to register now as organ, eye and tissue donors; maintains the National Donate Life Registry, RegisterMe.org; and assists Donate Life State Teams and national partners in facilitating high-performing donor registration programs.
Donate Life America