Islamic Shari'ah Rulings on New Reproductive Choices

Hossam E Fadel


Infertility is a serious hardship. There have been several advancements in its management. A major breakthrough in 1978 was the successful achievement of pregnancy and the birth of a girl as a result of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). That success led to several technological innovations that heralded a new era of "Non Coital Reproduction". These methods are collectively known as "Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs)." These are now available to women all across the USA and in many other countries. Thousands of couples are achieving pregnancies through the use of ARTs every year. Most of these couples would otherwise never have achieved pregnancies.

Although this is a welcome addition to the medical armentarium, there are several unresolved ethical, societal and religious concerns about their applications, especially in regards to the more recent applications of IVF.

A brief account of "normal" procreation and the basic principles of ARTs are given. Then the sharfa (Islamic law) principles that guide us in deciding the acceptability of these technologies will be discussed. Then the rulings that have been agreed upon by Islamic scholars will be given. Briefly stated, Islam not only allows but also encourages married couples to seek treatment of infertility, including the use of ARTs. However, certain limits cannot be crossed. The Islamic principles that identify these limits are 1) a valid marriage contract; 2) preservation of lineage including adopted offspring; 3) surrogacy is prohibited and the "birth mother" is the mother; and 4) gametes are not to be donated.


Assisted Reproductive Technologies; In Vitro Fertilization; Embryo transfer; egg donation; embryo donation; adoption; surrogate motherhood; Islamic jurisprudence; Shari'ah; Islamic perspective

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