Is Motherhood changing – Islamic view on New reproductive methods
Dr. Hassan Hathout, May 13, 2007
When I was working in Kuwait, I came across a Muslim couple who complained that they have a clash with their son. Their son was a religious young man who sported a beard and was well versed with the Quran. When I asked him why he is having a clash with his parents, his reply was, “I owe nothing to my parents”. I was quite shocked and asked him if he is a Muslim and as a Muslim, how can one say something like that to his own parents. The young man replied, “My parents always wanted to have only two children. Every time my mother got pregnant after my birth and my sister, they aborted the baby. If I had been their third or fourth child, then they would have definitely killed (aborted) me. Hence I don’t feel much loyalty to them”.
This gave a new dimension on the abortion issue.
Children after their school join the university far away from home, and then we learn a lot of crimes committed by children killing their parents. The bond between generations is getting weaker and weaker. Abortion may be one
of the factors.
Islamic view of abortion is that after the pregnancy, the fetus should be protected except in case of necessity if the mother has illness and she will be exposed to danger of death or permanent illness. The sharia considers the mother to be the root and the fetus to be the offshoot; the latter to be sacrificed if this is necessary to save the former.
In Islam, a pregnant woman is exempted from fasting during the month of Ramadan if it is tiresome, she has to look after her own nutrition, so that the baby is not born anemic, retarded etc.
If a woman commits a crime punishable by death and is proven pregnant, then the execution of the punishment shall be postponed until she gives birth and nurses her baby until it is weaned. This applies irrespective of the
duration of the pregnancy, denoting the right of the fetus to life from its beginning. It applies even if the pregnancy was illegitimate, which shows that the fetus conceived out of wedlock also has the right to life. All sects and juridical schools unanimously uphold this ruling.
There is also a money penalty for abortion even if it was inadvertent. If the abortion takes place in less than three months of pregnancy, then one-tenth of the fine should be paid. If the abortion takes place after 120 days of pregnancy, then full ransom should be paid because it is treated as killing of an adult. The 120 day limitation is set by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who said that the “Spirit” is blown into the fetus. The spirit, however, is some-thing we human beings cannot grasp or know the meaning of. It is a mystery that God kept the truth about to Himself, and we are told by God not to pursue the attempts to unravel its secret. God says in the Quran
addressing the Prophet (PBUH): “They put questions to you concerning the Spirit. Say the Spirit is at my Lord’s command. ..and of knowledge only a meager part has been imparted to you.” (17:85)
The blowing of the spirit is therefore a metaphysical phenomenon beyond human comprehension at all times, and the hadith is taken as a matter of faith.
Motherhood in modern times
Motherhood in our times has been separated from sexual function. Sex is a temptation to attract a man and a woman. It is to marry and get children. Now there is a separation between sexual and motherhood. Sex can be
enjoyed without having a child. This is a new thing of 21st century.
Contraceptive pills were made. It was made by a grant from a wealthy American woman, Katherine McCormick to have equal status of man. In sex, woman is threatened to become pregnant and hence Katherine donated the money and said, “A woman can be as free and enjoy sex with man without becoming pregnant”.
Islam permits contraception as long as it does not entail the radical separation between marriage and its reproductive function.
With the advent of contraceptives, the number of illegitimate pregnancies arose instead of declining. Therefore government set to legalize abortion. This has its effect on the value of motherhood in the eyes of the future
generation. The permissibility of sex has hit the very institution of marriage and the marriage rate is declining.
Different types of Family structure
In schools, they teach about different family structures.
1. Traditional family – Husband and Wife.
2. Man-Woman family without marriage.
3. Man-Man family – The gay couple adopt a child.
4. Woman-Woman family – The lesbian couple adopt a child.
In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a technology to overcome the obstacle of sperm reaching the egg.
This technology, commonly known as the test tube baby technology, is Islamically acceptable as long as it is between husband and wife, i.e. within the boundaries of the marriage contract. The marriage contract should
be valid and live. Since divorce or widowhood bring the marriage contract to a conclusion and they are then no more husband and wife, it follows that a woman may not be impregnated by the sperm of her ex-husband kept in deep freeze in a semen bank. Intervention of a third party other than husband and wife and the bearers of their genetic material (sperm and ovum) is not permissible because this would be an intrusion into the marriage contract binding the pair. “Alien sperm,” or an “alien egg”, or an “alien womb” (to carry a couple’s embryo) is not allowed.
Unfortunately the limitation is transgressed. Husband, wife and somebody else giving the sperm or wife giving the egg (ovum) or someone carries the pregnancy (surrogacy).
Splitting of Parenthood
A woman delivers a baby and there is a dispute, who is the father; the donor of the sperm or the commissioning father. The result is that the child has two fathers. When woman acts as a surrogate mother carrying commissioning couple’s child, who is the mother of the child; the one who gave the egg (ovum) or who carried the child for nine months. The result again is that the child has two mothers. This has resulted in the splitting of parenthood.
Someone in Netherlands (formerly Holland) suggested having three names, mother, formal father and donor father on the child’s birth certificate. We are entering into the style where the traditional family structure is threatened.
In olden days, a girl will be praised for her chastity but now things are changing. I found a girl rebuking her friend, “You Virgin” as if it was an insult.
Mother can produce a baby without the need of semen and that is known as cloning. Take the skin cell chromosomes of the woman and put them in an emptied ovum that can turn into an embryo that she can carry until she gives birth to a baby without interference of a male partner. A day will soon come where woman becomes self-sufficient. The things are moving quickly. The religious thinking is weakening.
If one reviews world budget, more and more money is spent for destroying the life rather than saving the life. This is the new order. Will this be allowed to continue or will someone rise to oppose it? In reality, the opposition is not so strong. Muslims are the people who follow the Quran that is preserved in the original text and Muslims are probably the only hope and should guide the rest of the humanity.
But unfortunately, Muslims are engaged in suicide (bombing) killing the other Muslims. Muslims should reverse their trend by raising their voice. Instead of reading this as an article, you should assume the role of ‘World
Changers”. Everyone should know that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is not going to come back and it is YOU who should take this matter to your heart and deliver it in actions to save life and to preserve the sanctity of
Excerpts from the Sunday lecture addressed by Dr. Hassan Hathout at the Islamic Center of Southern California, Los Angeles on May 13, 2007.