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Human Procreation

Commentary

A fatwa is a formal legal opinion or interpretation given by a jurisconsult (mufti) in response to a request from a judge (qadi) or an individual. Some modern Muslim governments have obtained fatwas to legitimate their reforms.

Birth Control

Date: 6/July/2003

Question of Fatwa: What does Islam say about birth control? Is it true that sex cannot be used for pleasure and only for reproduction? I was under the impression that this view exists only in Christianity. Please give references from the Qur'an and Hadith. (Jazakum Allah khayran)

Mufti: Sheikh Ahmad Kutty

First of all, it should be clear that the preservation of the human species is unquestionably the primary objective of marriage, and such preservation of the species requires continued reproduction. Accordingly, Islam encourages having many children and has blessed both male and female progeny. However, it allows the Muslim to plan his family due to valid reasons and recognized necessities.

In his response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

Marriage in Islam is based not on one single objective or purpose such as procreation or sexual fulfillment. Rather, it is intended to cater to multiple purposes which include, above all, spiritual tranquility and peace, and cooperation and partnership in fulfilling the divine mandate. Let me explain this briefly. Islam, being a natural way of life, takes into account all of genuine human instincts such as physical, spiritual, intellectual, emotional, et cetera. It is for this reason that, unlike some other religious ideologies, Islam looks at sexuality positively. In other words, instead of attaching any taboo to sexual fulfillment, Islam teaches us to celebrate sexuality within the framework of a lawful union. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “You merit rewards of charity in your sexual union with your spouses!” His companions asked in surprise, “How shall we be getting rewards for fulfilling our natural instincts?” He asked, “What if someone were to fulfill his desire unlawfully; would he/she be punished for doing so?” They replied, “Certainly.” Then he said, “Likewise, when one does it within the framework of marriage, he/she will be rewarded for it!” Although sexuality is one of the main purposes of marriage, it is not the sole one. According to the clear statement of the Qur'an, tranquility and peace through a successful union is considered the primary objective of marriage: “Among His signs is that He created for you spouses of your own kind in order that you may repose to them in tranquility and He instilled in your hearts love and affection for one another; verily, in these are signs for those who reflect (on the nature of the reality)” (Ar-Rum: 21). In another place, Allah refers to the relationship between males and females in terms of partnership for achieving goodness and fulfilling the divine mandate for their lives. “The believers, males and females, are partners of one another; they shall jointly enjoin all that is good and counsel against all that is evil” (At-Tawbah: 71). And procreation of the human species is also another important purpose, although marriage is still valid if, for one reason or another, the stated purpose of procreation cannot be achieved. Now coming to the issue of birth control, there is nothing in Islam that prohibits it so long as it is done consensually for valid reasons such as the following: putting off pregnancy until such time when the spouses are in a better position to shoulder the responsibilities of parenting, to allow for space between pregnancies in order to provide proper nurturing and care to existing children, et cetera. Birth control is, however, forbidden or undesirable when it is resorted to as a permanent measure to prevent conception altogether; likewise, it is forbidden if resorted to for fear of poverty. Allah says, “Don’t kill your children for fear of poverty; it is We who provide sustenance for them and you; verily killing them is a most heinous crime!” (Al-Isra’: 31). After reflecting on this verse, scholars have concluded that practicing birth control for fear of poverty is unlawful since it implies weakness of faith and trust in Allah as the Provider and Sustainer of all beings.

Artificial Insemination

An Islamic Approach to The Issue of Artificial Insemination

Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America, states:

Indeed, artificial insemination is one of the new issues on which Muslim scholars have recently done some Ijtihad in the light of some basic prin-ciples and values of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Artificial insemination for conceptual purpose is generally needed in the situation when the husband is not able to deposit his semen inside his wife's genital tract. This procedure is allowed in Islam as long as it is between legally married couples during the life of the husband. The jurists have emphasized that under the Shari‘ah, a wife is not allowed to receive the semen of her ex-husband after divorce or after his death.

Stressing the irreparable harms that occur as a result of another donor's involvement in the process, it must be borne in mind that “Islam safeguards lineage by prohibiting Zina and legal adoption, thus keeping the family line unambiguously defined without any foreign element entering into it. It likewise prohibits what is known as artificial insemination if the donor of the semen is other than the husband. . . .”

In his commentary on this point, Dr. ‘Abdul-Fattah Idrees, Professor of Islamic Jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, states:

Artificial insemination should be conducted under meticulous as well as safe laboratory conditions. The owners of those labs should be trust-worthy people. The board of the Islamic Fiqh Council have agreed on the issue of artificial insemination as long as no other third party is involved. The council also stressed the necessity of carrying out the operation when both the husband and wife are alive. In supporting their view, the council cited the Hadith in which the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is reported to have said: “No one of you should lag behind in seeking progeny because if he dies while having no children, his traces will be wiped out.” In the light of this comprehensive fatwa, it's clear that what the ‘Ulama focus on for the artificial insermination to keep its permissibility is [for it] to be conducted in a safe atmosphere where no slight cheating or deception takes place, and third party should not get involved in this process. If you have any further comments, please don’t hesitate to write back! May Allah guide you to the straight path, and guide you to that which pleases Him, Amen.

Surrogate Motherhood

Date: 19/May/2003

Question of Fatwa: What is the Islamic view of surrogate motherhood? Is a married couple allowed to use this procedure to have a child? (Jazakum Allah khayran)

Mufti: Sheikh Ahmad Kutty

Answering your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

Surrogate motherhood is often euphemistically referred to as “hiring a womb.” The procedure involves using the service of another woman to serve as a carrier for the fertilized ovum of a couple. The woman makes herself available to inject the fertilized ovum into her own womb and then carries the child to its full term on behalf of the other couple. It is often done in lieu of a specified remuneration or free of charge. People resort to this procedure either because a married woman who desires to have a child has problems in carrying her child to its full term or because of her desire to simply forgo the “trouble” of conception and labor. According to the rules of Shari‘ah, surrogate motherhood as described above is not allowed, since it involves introducing the sperm of a male into the uterus of a woman to whom he is not married and, thus, it clearly falls under the specific category of transgressing the bounds of Allah as stated in the Qur'an: “Those who guard their private parts except from their spouses” (Al-Mu’minun: 5). “Whosoever goes beyond that are indeed transgressors” (Al-Mu’minun: 7). By introducing a third party into the family equation, this procedure throws into confusion the issue of the identity of the child. In Islam, every child has a right to a definite parentage, namely, that of a father and mother. In the case of surrogate motherhood, the question arises as to the identity of the real mother of the child thus conceived. Is she the genetic mother who provides the egg from which the child is born, or is she the woman whose womb serves as a carrier for the child? Such confusion is bound to affect the child emotionally as he will be torn between two mothers. Further, it may also lead to legal fights over the parentage of the child, as happened in the United States in the case of a child thus conceived in 1987. Finally, the entire procedure amounts to dehumanizing the process of human procreation by reducing womb down to the level of a commodity that can be bought or rented for service. Ultimately, such a process, yet again, violates the dignity and honor that Allah Almighty has bestowed on man and woman.

Abortion

Date: 4/June/2002

Question of Fatwa: What is Islam's stance on abortion, as the issue is still controversial, especially among Muslims living abroad?

Mufti: Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi

As regards your question, the following is what the eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi states in his well-known book, “The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam”:

While Islam permits preventing pregnancy for valid reasons, it does not allow doing violence to it once it occurs. Muslim jurists have agreed unanimously that after the fetus is completely formed and has been given a soul, abortion is Haram. It is also a crime, the commission of which is prohibited to the Muslim because it constitutes an offense against a complete, living human being. Jurists insist that the payment of blood money (diya) becomes incumbent if the baby is aborted alive and then died, while a fine of lesser amount is to be paid if it is aborted dead. However, there is one exceptional situation. If, say the jurists, after the baby is completely formed, it is reliably shown that the continuation of the pregnancy would necessarily result in the death of the mother, then, in accordance with the general principle of the Shari’ah, that of choosing the lesser of two evils, abortion must be performed. The reason for this is that the mother is the origin of the fetus; moreover, her life is well-established, with duties and responsibilities, and she is also a pillar of the family. It would not be possible to sacrifice her life for the life of a fetus which has not yet acquired a personality and which has no responsibilities or obligations to fulfill. Imam al-Ghazzali makes a clear distinction between contraception and abortion, saying that contraception is not like abortion. Abortion is a crime against an existing being. It follows from this that there are stages of existence. The first stages of existence are the settling of the semen in the womb and its mixing with the secretions of the woman. Then comes the next gestational stage. Disturbing the pregnancy at this stage is a crime. When it develops further and becomes a lump, aborting it is a greater crime. When it acquires a soul and its creation is completed, the crime becomes more grievous. The crime reaches a maximum seriousness when it is committed after it (the fetus) is separated (from the mother) alive.

Bibliography references:

From http://www.islam-online.net.

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