Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - 9 Safar 1440

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Is it permissible to conceive through medical intervention?

I have three daughters two of whom are from my former husband and one from my current husband. I wish to have a fourth child. What is the ruling for gender selection through medical intervention?


There is no legal objection to conceiving a child by fertilizing the wife’s ovum with her husband’s sperm outside he body and then transferring the fertilized egg to her uterus. However, the following conditions must be observed:

1. It is proven beyond doubt that the egg comes from the wife and the sperm from the husband.
2. Fertilization takes place outside the wife’s body and the fertilized egg is implanted in her uterus without being replaced or mixed with another man’s sperm sample.
3. There is a medical necessity for the procedure such as for instance either spouse having a disease that prevents natural conception or when it is the only way for the wife to conceive.
4. A skillful and trustworthy doctor must conduct the procedure.

God created man in balanced proportions, so He created him in pairs—male and female. He distinguished each with characteristics suitable for the functions He created them for and revealed the necessity of such for man's continual existence. He says,
“O mankind! Fear your Guardian Lord, Who created you from a single person, created out of it, his mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women; -fear God, through Whom ye demand your mutual (rights), and be heedful of the wombs (that bore you): for God ever watches over you” (Quran 4:1).

“That He did create the pairs, --male and female, from a sperm-drop when lodged (in its place)” (Quran 53:45-6).

“And of everything We have created pairs: That ye may reflect” (Quran 51:49).

This diversity in creation and balance in nature has been deemed necessary by the judgment of God, the All-Knowing, All-powerful. God the Almighty says,
“To God belongs the dominion of the Heavens and the earth. He creates what he wills. He bestows (children) male or female according to His will, or He bestows both males and females, and He leaves barren whom He will: He is full of knowledge and power” (Quran 42:49-50).

When dealing with an issue such as gender selection, it is important to take into consideration both the individual and community levels. Gender selection on the individual level: The principle with regard to all things is permissibility. This is because on the individual level, a person may choose either to marry or not. If he does, he can choose to have children or not and, if he does, he can choose to use birth control or not—each according to his circumstances.

Moreover, it is permissible for a person to strive to increase the possibilities of conceiving a child of the preferred sex in the manner determined by specialists i.e. by choosing certain foods, having intercourse before or during ovulation, sperm spinning or other methods known to experts. It is also permissible to use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis for the same purpose. There is nothing in Islamic law that prevents gender selection on the individual level provided the method used does not harm the fetus prior to or after its birth. Specialists are the ones to determine this since it is unacceptable to use people as guinea pigs and tamper with the human body.

Gender selection on the community level: The ruling for gender selection conducted on the individual level differs from that conducted on the community level. This is based on the well-established legal principle that there can be a difference between a fatwa (religious edict) directed towards an individual and one directed towards a community. This distinction has been frequently discussed in books on jurisprudence, an example being the permissibility of using force against the residents of a region if they prohibit the observance of the sunnah portions of the dawn prayer or the call to prayer even though it is permissible to omit them on the individual level.

The case differs when dealing with gender selection on the community level since the matter is then connected with disturbing the natural balance created by God as well as the ratio of males to females which is an important factor in human procreation. Gender selection on the community level amounts to objecting to God’s creation by trying to change His system, disturbing His structure and undermining the means upon which He has based human life.

Based on the above, conceiving through IVF is permissible if it is incontrovertibly proven that the egg comes from the wife and the sperm from her husband, the fertilized egg is returned to the wife’s uterus without being replaced or mixed with another man’s sample, and there is a medical necessity for it. Moreover, gender selection is permissible in Islamic law if it does not become a prevalent phenomenon.
God the Almighty knows best.

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