IVF and Islam

Post 51 of 65

In vitro fertilization and other methods of assisted reproduction still have quite a controversial status, even though they were discovered more than fifty years ago. The doubts are, of course, of religious and moral nature. Most Western religions, which are mainly represented by Christianity – Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Protestantism –, are very much against IVF, especially Catholicism which is concerned with the status of the souls of those children born through artificial methods. Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism are somewhat more permissive of assisted reproductions, though they have their limits and doubts as well. But what is the relationship between IVF and Islam?

We know that Islamism is quite a censoring religion and many disagree with its restrictive nature over women’s role in society, in the family and so on. Similar to Catholics, Islamists agree that birth and death are directly related to God’s Will. However, trying to conceive and fight against infertility is not seen as an act against God in Islamism. Just like Judaism’s Torah, the Islamists’ Qur’an presents instances where people ask favor from God to give them children.

In the Torah, several matriarchs plead with God, or use herbs to try and conceive, and most times God fulfills their wishes and cures them of barrenness. As for IVF and Islam, in the Qur’an, God comforts those who cannot conceive. Since nor Qur’an, nor the Hadith speak directly against artificial methods of reproduction, most scholars agree that a married couple can seek any help they can to cure their infertility. However, as you noticed, they limit these possibilities to married couples, just like Hinduism. Therefore, the married man and woman can have their eggs and sperm extracted and fertilized together, and then inserted in the woman’s uterus. The eggs and sperm cannot come from outside of the marriage, so egg and sperm donation and surrogate motherhood are prohibited.

Also, in vitro fertilization cannot take place if one of the spouses has died or if the couple is divorced. As you can see, IVF and Islam have quite a normal relationship, especially when considering how ancient and strict this religion is. Surprisingly, though perhaps not, Islam seems to be more permissive than Catholicism, which prohibits any method of assisted reproduction and which considers its subjects’ reproductive lives are entirely in God’s hands. Another aspect of the relationship between IVF and Islam is that this religion allows for cryopreservation of embryos, but they must be used during the marriage. Sperm banks are inexistent and prohibited in the Islamic world.