Islamic perspectives in human reproduction

Reprod Biomed Online. 2008;17 Suppl 3:34-8. doi: 10.1016/s1472-6483(10)60328-8.


Assisted reproductive technology is widely practised around the world for the treatment of virtually all forms of infertility. The application of this technology in the Islamic world had been delayed for many years, based on the misconception that Islamic teachings do not approve assisted reproduction. The paper discusses derivation of Islamic rulings and its impact on the ethics of contemporary issues, including family formation and assisted reproduction. It clearly shows that Islam encourages family formation and assisted reproduction, when indicated, within the frame of marriage. It also discusses differences among Muslim sects, Sunni and Shi'aa. The paper also discusses Islamic rulings on the new emerging practices in assisted reproduction, including surrogacy, multifetal pregnancy reduction, cryopreservation, pregnancy in the post-menopausal period, sex selection and embryo implantation following the husband's death. The moral status of the embryo in Islam is discussed. Organ differentiation and ensoulment are believed to occur at 42 days after fertilization at the earliest. As individuation of the embryo does not occur before 14 days from fertilization, research on surplus embryos during this period is allowed. Similarly, preimplantation genetic diagnosis, gene therapy and non-reproductive cloning for the benefit of humanity are ethically acceptable in Islam. This information should help physicians in their decision before conscientious objection to offering various modalities of assisted reproduction to their infertile patients.

MeSH terms

  • Cloning, Organism / ethics
  • Cryopreservation / ethics
  • Female
  • Genetic Therapy / ethics
  • Humans
  • Infertility / therapy
  • Islam*
  • Male
  • Menopause
  • Posthumous Conception / ethics
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Reduction, Multifetal / ethics
  • Religion and Medicine
  • Reproduction*
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / ethics*
  • Sex Preselection / ethics
  • Surrogate Mothers
  • Uterus / transplantation