Family says autopsies violated their religion

FORT WORTH – A North Texas family says a medical examiner violated their religion by going forward with autopsies of two young men.

Yesterday, they asked a judge to issue a restraining order against the Tarrant County Medical Examiner.

Abdel Rahman Joudeh and Mohammed Khan were raised in Tarrant County but they were also raised in Islam.

“They are so good, they are so nice, they pray five times a day, they fast,” said cousin, Sehar Ahmed.

When they died in a car crash late Sunday night, their families prepared to bury them quickly, in accordance with their faith.

Then they found out Tarrant County’s Medical Examiner planned to perform an autopsy.

“The first thing his mom started crying and she said no don’t let them do anything with them,” Ahmed said.

The family hired an attorney and just hours after learning of the deaths sued the medical examiner, asking a judge to stop the autopsies.

“Even before I come to work, I got calls at home requesting that I do not perform an autopsy because of religious reasons,” said medical examiner Dr. Nizam Peerwani.

A local Muslim leader, Imam Moujahed Bakhach, tells us Islam allows autopsies if they’re necessary to determine how a person died but are a source of confusion for many Muslim immigrants, accustomed to cultures where autopsies are less common or accepted.

“Many Muslims are living in this society but they’re not yet involved in the society itself,” he said.

In this case, the medical examiner, who happens to also be Muslim, needed to check for internal injuries and the possibility of the driver being under the influence.

“I said whatever he says I will follow. He’s a professional, he’s very well known,” Bakhach said.

This is an opinion the families found hard to accept.

“They are good boys they are good Muslims. There is no need to do an autopsy,” Ahmed said.

Yesterday, a judge denied the families’ request, and the autopsies went forward. The result: the young men died of internal injuries. No drugs or alcohol were found in their systems.

While this case is settled, Bakhach knows the issue is not.

So he plans to pass out literature in his mosque this Friday, reassuring the faithful that autopsies are often legally required, and religiously allowed.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Chris Hawes, WFAA-TV, Nov. 28, 2007,

Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday November 29, 2007.
Last updated if a date shows here:


More About This Subject


Our website includes affiliate links, which means we get a small commission -- at no additional cost to you -- for each qualifying purpose. For instance, as an Amazon Associate, Religion News Blog earns from qualifying purchases. That is one reason why we can provide this research service free of charge.

Speaking of which: One way in which you can support us — at no additional cost to you — is by shopping at