Comparative Islamic Studies, Vol 2, No 1 (2006)

Between Islamic law and science : Contemporary Muftis and Muslim ethicists on embryo and stem cells research

Vardit Rispler-Chaim
Issued Date: 19 Feb 2008


In practice, stem-cell and embryo research have encountered little resistance in Arab and Islamic countries, and it is already in progress in Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Malaysia, and elsewhere. The Islamic scientific community is largely free of religious inhibitions that jeopardize attempts of scientists in Christian oriented countries, for example, to engage in embryo and stem-cell research. The reason lies with the nature of Islamic medical ethics. According to this ethical system, obtaining knowledge is a human’s duty, and an act of faith. Also, science is revealed by Allah to humans to serve humankind, and human life must be saved by all possible means. According to Islamic theology, “humanity”/the soul, is inspired into the fetus only at 120 days of pregnancy. Therefore, the use of fetuses younger than 120 days in research, and especially if sick or disabled and with a short life expectancy, if born alive at all, is not prohibited, provided that certain stipulations are followed. The use of superfluous zygotes in research is also encouraged, instead of their simply being destroyed. The principle that guides the ethics is that the public good [maslaha] gained from the fruits of the research outweighs the harm [darar]. The research is welcomed.

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DOI: 10.1558/cis.v2i1.27

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