Artificial Insemination (AI) from the husband or by a sperm donor (Ethics 1.7)

Artificial Insemination (AI)

Artificial Insemination (AI) has been used in farming for many years as an easy way of ensuring that animals, especially cows, become pregnant. Much of the farming industry claim that without its use, dairy products and meat would be in short supply and more expensive. Similarly, cross pollination of plants helps to increase the supply of crops. In fact cross pollination of date-palms was practiced by the Disciples of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and at the end of the hadith of cross pollination the Prophet said: “You are more knowledgeable concerning your worldly affairs.” (Sahīh Muslim) This shows that the Islamic religion has no problems with the use of modern technologies so long as they do not oppose the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Human artificial insemination is the process in which sperm is collected from a man and inserted into the uterus of the woman via her vagina. The hope is that fertilization will take place and she will become pregnant. There are two types of artificial insemination:

  1. Artificial insemination by the husband (AIH) – this is where the sperm used comes from the husband of the woman hoping to get pregnant.
  2. Artificial insemination by donor (AID or DI) – sperm is donated (for a fee) by a male volunteer and, after being screened for diseases such as HIV. Then that sperm is inserted into the uterus of the woman other than his wife.

Questions:

1. Carefully explain the difference between AID and AIH.

2. Which of the two processes is acceptable do you think to Muslims?

For the exam, you need to know this and you should know that Islam does not oppose technological advancements so long as they do not oppose the Qur’an and Sunnah (i.e. Sharī’ah Law).

Muslim Attitudes To Artificial Insemination (AI)

There seems to be some differing amongst Muslims regarding the permissibility of AI. Some Muslims believe that since children are a gift and a blessing from Allah, then couples who cannot have children should accept that fate, and not become disheartened, since it was Allah’s will. Not all couples receive the gift of children. Other Muslims believe that though it is true that to have children through the natural process of sexual relations between couples is indeed a gift and blessing from Allah, BUT this does not exclude the use of science or fertility technology that is itself God-given. It is Allah who gave humans the ability to develop these technologies. So long as these technologies do not contradict the Qur’an and Sunnah, they are permitted. Allah said:

“It is He Who has created you from a single person (Adam), and then He has created from him his wife (Eve), in order that he might enjoy the pleasure of living with her. When he had sexual relation with her, she became pregnant and she carried the foetus about lightly. Then when it became heavy, they both invoked Allah, their Lord (saying): “If You give us a good and pious child, we shall indeed be among the grateful.”” (Qur’an 7:189)

AI may involve masturbation, and most Muslim scholars forbid masturbation. In the Quran it states:

“Successful indeed are the believers.. those who abstain from sex except with their wives.” (Qur’an 23:1-7)

Many Muslim scholars interpret this to mean that masturbation is wrong. However, Shaikh Ibn Uthaimīn said in Majmū` Al-Fatāwa (vol. 17, pp. 27-28) that there nothing wrong with using artificial insemination by the husband (AIH) and a man can produce the sperm by ejaculation into the hand of his own wife after intimacy with her, as that is absolutely not forbidden. So it seems that actually there is no textual proof forbidding AIH. So after the semen is collected, then the egg of his wife may be fertilised with it. Ibn Uthaimīn (in vol. 17) and many other scholars state that the egg must be placed into the uterus of the wife and it is absolutely forbidden to place it into another woman because that involves placing the sperm of a man into a woman that he is not married to, which is clearly not permissible. The Qur’an states:

“Your wives are a tilth for you, so go to your tilth, when or how you will.” (2:223)

So the “tilth” is mentioned with regard to the one’s wife – so the only place for a man’s sperm is his own wife. Artificial insemination by donor (AID or DI) is forbidden because it breaks the Islamic code of ethics for the reason stated, and due to the following reasons:

  1. The donor is a stranger.
  2. Inserting the sperm from a man other than the woman’s husband could be seen as a form of adultery.
  3. It allows an unmarried woman to have a child from other than her husband, and bring it up on her own.
  4. It allows homosexual couples to have a child and bring it up in a ‘single-sex home’.
  5. The child may become very upset when they find out their genetic father (the donor) is unknown (and anonymous) and different from the father who brought them up.

Questions cont’d:

3. Which of the above points do you think a Muslim should consider as the strongest argument against AID? Explain why.

NOTE:

I initially compiled these worksheets for my students at the Redstone Academy (aged between 13 and 16 years), Moseley Road, Birmingham, UK who are working towards their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). I felt that others who do not attend the school can also benefit from these topics since they are presented in simple bitesize chapters. I have relied upon GCSE text books and adapted them for my classes.

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