Is surgery prohibited in the Quran?


Email with question:
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Could you tell me if surgery is prohibited in the Quran? I was told that 4:119 prohibits us from having any surgery on our bodies, wasalam.

Reply:

We read in 4:119 that the devil will entice humans to change the creation of God, and that whoever takes the devil as a Lord instead of God has incurred a great loss.
First we must realise that all medical knowledge available to us is God given. God provides us with such knowledge so that we are able to better our lives and cure illness’s. Useful surgery cures illness but does not change God’s creation. Surgery restores God’s creation to how it was meant to be.
However, some other types of surgery would indeed be subject to the prohibition in 4:119.
One such example is a surgery whereby a person changes his/her sex (e.g. from male to female). This type of surgery would indeed be subject to the prohibition in 4:119 since it does not cure an illness but it changes the way God created a person.
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It is also important to note that the word used in 4:119 is “yughayyir” which means: to change. This key word is very significant. A normal surgery is not aimed at changing the body but curing a malfunction that has developed. However a surgery to change the sex of a person does indeed change the way God created that person.
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To conclude, it is essential to differentiate between surgery that corrects a malfunction or improve a person’s condition, and between surgery that changes a person’s identity without there being a malfunction or an illness.