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The Heinz Dilemma: Morality Test July 15, 2007

Posted by Muhajirah in General, Random Musings.

A woman was near death from a special kind of cancer. There was one drug that the doctors thought might save her. It was a form of radium that a druggist in the same town had recently discovered. The drug was expensive to make, but the druggist was charging ten times what the drug cost him to produce. He paid $200 for the radium and charged $2,000 for a small dose of the drug. The sick woman’s husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money, but he could only get together about $ 1,000 which is half of what it cost. He told the druggist that his wife was dying and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the druggist said: “No, I discovered the drug and I’m going to make money from it.” So Heinz got desperate and broke into the man’s store to steal the drug for his wife.

Should Heinz have broken into the laboratory to steal the drug for his wife? Why or why not?

After you’ve answered the question read the stages of morality according to a dude called Kohlberg and then see what stage ur at



1. Suleman - July 17, 2007

yeah, it was to save life, especially when the druggist was being mean.

2. Anonymous - July 19, 2007

hmmm.. interesting but for a muslim that does not fit well as in my humble opinion that the man should not steal for the following reasons

1. Stealing is a major sin and i dont want to be punished
2. Even if i steal the medicine then the medicine is not the guarantee to save my wife’s life. Life and death is in the hands of Allah only
3. “Dua is a weapon of a muslim” and
“And your lord said pray to me, I will respond to your invocations.” (90:60).
4. Narrated Abu Musa: Some people asked Allah’s Apostle, “Whose Islam is the best? i.e. (Who is a very good Muslim)?” He replied, “One who avoids harming the Muslims with his tongue and hands.” (Bukhari)
5. In Islam the golden rule is that ends DO NOT justify the means.

– so point no 1 makes me belong to the Kohlberg’s stage 1 and 2
– point 2 i think may refer to stage 3 as as a muslim’s conformity might equate to believe in Qadr
– and 4 makes it to stage 5.

now how this should be approached
– seek wasta. Goto pharmacists wife, children, friends anyone and try to win their votes and then influence the guy ofcourse while paying the thousand dollars
– arrange a silent protest, Just sit in front of his house holding one placard
“i have only thousand dollars and i love my wife”
– maybe try to raise some funds from the local community
– make dua, make dua and make dua and then make some more

3. Muhajirah - July 20, 2007

as salaamu alaikum

yeh i think this theory is rubbish, as muslims, our morality is defined by the quran and sunnah.

Back when i was studying this in college i said that he should steal the drug but leave whatever amount of money he managed to raise at the store…

now i think the same as you anonymous, dont steal. Put ur trust in Allah but at the same time do something pro active in order to get the drug. Try and persuade the druggist to give u the drug, go around the community for help, make dua. If the druggist gives him the drug then alhamdulillah if not then alhamdulillah. Cos whatever happens it the qadr of Allah…

Sam - April 21, 2012

Not stealing it for the reason of religion puts you in stage 4.

But thats just my opinion

4. funk999 - August 10, 2007

I could just see myself stealing that drug overcome by the fear that i might lose someone special. Im a type of person that makes the same mistakes again unfortunately. the rightful thing to do is consider this as purification and put the trust in Allah. Its so clear that there is such lack of trust in Allah, but what if he did have that trust in Allah and did steal it and she did recover and he did manage to get the funds and pay back immediately. These are individual cases and as we are not in the same shoe as the guy we can make comments without understanding how he is really feeling. Its soo frustrating and Allahs mercy is endless. Clearly there wasnt enough time to get the full money or he would have had a charity bazar or something.

Only last week or the week before that i was swimming in the very salty beaches of Dubai, this was around midnight and pretty dark, we had a dingy, the others decided to swim back to shore only after they started to race I realised and thought i’d tag along. My young aunt was there and i was always keeping my eye on her and wouldnt let her go anywhere without me (in the sea). She left without me, with them. I then realised she also went for the race so i started to look for her. It didnt take long to spot her and realise she wasnt going to make it back. She even had jeans on, it seemed to me everyone knows the dangers of the sea as weve had plenty of experice but no one gave a crap, I started screaming for help because clearly she didnt have the energy to ask for help. A friend was close to her giving her support and her brother came to help her but even he gave up as he could barely save himself. I stayed at a close distance asking for help and for the boat to come to our rescue, but the best they could do was keep an eye out, I just dont know why, maybe they didnt want to get wet. We were all really tired and things were happening fast but alhamdulillah i had a plan and i spose i had it all along which is another factor why i didnt approach her because I’d be tangled in the mess and we would all die. I swam back to the boat to get a float, my fear was i wont make it in time as everything happened so fast and i saw her dip down. My heart pounded. There was two people with her was it worth me getting involved? I wasnt going to let her drown but i was confused, Should i have gone to her and provided aid which im not sure is full proof or should i gamble and get a float even though i saw her dipp down twice.

Alhamdulillah I did and managed to get the float in time, In my cowardly opinion that was a smarter thing to do because I doubt anyone would really helped her back. My mind went totally blank. I could barely swim and barely even talk and i really did not know if my aunt was even safe. I was fighting for my own survival what happened totally shut me down. I was moving towards shore but felt it was a mile away. Then the first friend asks me to help him. I said to him “sorry bro I cant”. It killed me what i said to him but I wasnt thinking too much. I felt the current pushing me towards him. He then asked me can you stand now, so i tried to stand and i could we werent too far from the shore and i called on him “you can stand, you can stand”. I felt so ashamed and cowardly.

My aunt and the boys took the dingy out again even after all that happened. I refused to go. The friend told everyone what i did in refusing to help him. I felt even worse. a few days later we were discussing something and I said in such situation both people can die trying to save one( when i was younger i helped save a friend from drowing, but before he drown he went into a panic attack and grabbed me down, he was drowning me and i got scared. But somehow with Allahs assistance i was okay, i drowned myself and pulled him to a side whilst underneath the pool) . He said well i guess how can you live with yourself leaving someone behind.

I didnt say anything, i thought it was not worth it, i guess i am a coward. But I bet he would have understood if he was in a situation where one starts to panic and grabbed him surely he will fight for his survival. Alhamdulillah its a learning experience of the different character of people. The friend is one of the nicest brother I know, mashaAllah. He gave us a holiday I will never forget.

5. Sujith - June 11, 2012

It is a dilemmatic test of morality! On one hand, you have a life to be saved and on the other, a research that has to be respected in justifiable terms that may involve money!

What the husband did here is appreciable when it comes to save his wife, but deception in the druggist’s point of view!

Of course, perceptions are subjective and can be weighed at both ends, but there is always a chance for resurrection! The husband can later confess and pay the druggist the money he deserves, which would balance out the situation if the druggist can come to a morale conclusion too!

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