My question was in relation to ART [Assisted Reproductive Technologies].
Would it be permissible for an unmarried man to use frozen sperm cells of his acquired before he gets married (frozen due to some illness and treatment that may harm or reduce his fertility) to have children with his wife, using her eggs once he gets married in the future?
Also would the same man be allowed to use sperm cells created using stem cell technologies from his own DNA/cells in the future once this has been proven safe to use for human reproduction through scientific research?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
In your query, you have stated that you wanted to secure yourself from infertility by freezing your sperm out of the fear that you may become infertile in the future.
There are two important principals in Shari’āh that have to be considered in response to your query.
1. Necessity unrestricts that which has been restricted in Shari’āh.[i]
2. Whatever is permitted due to dire need will be restricted to the extent of its necessity.[ii]
Necessity is when a person reaches such a state that if he does not indulge in an unlawful act, he will die or be close to death. It is only in this state when unlawful becomes lawful. Also, in the state of necessity, unlawful becomes lawful only with the following three conditions:
a) The person is so sick that his life is in danger
b) The fear of losing life is not just an assumption, but a reliable doctor also agrees, and the treatment is unavailable with lawful substances
c) The doctor is convinced that the person will be cured by using the unlawful substance
Reverting back to your situation, you have stated that you fear that you may become infertile. You fear you won’t have any children. Out of this fear, you want to freeze your sperm. This would be impermissible since this is merely an assumption. The laws of Shari’āh are not relaxed based on assumptions. They are based on an absolute situation.
The following may also be considered:
1. Firstly, the sperm is normally acquired through masturbation, which is prohibited.[iii]
2. An insemination procedure uses a thin, flexible tube (catheter) to put sperm into the woman’s reproductive tract which would require the wife to expose her private parts which is Harām.
3. There are many risks involved in such a procedure. Here are few which are listed below:
· Insemination combined with superovulation increases the risk of multiple pregnancies (conceiving more than one fetus).Multiple pregnancies are a high risk for mother and fetuses.
· Insemination procedures pose a risk of infection.
· Some women experience severe cramping during insemination.
· There is a slight risk of puncturing the uterus during intrauterine insemination.
· There is a slight risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome if superovulation is used together with insemination.
· There may be a higher risk of birth defects for babies conceived by certain assisted reproductive techniques.
· Usually, ones sperm is kept frozen for a period of 6 months in the laboratory before it can be used. After this period of time when one goes back to retrieve it, how does he not know that it might have been mistakenly switched around with someone else’s sperm since so many incidents like this have occurred in the past leading to a dispute and argument amongst the husband and wife. Also, Shari’ah has taken a lot of precautions in preserving ones lineage.
Islam teaches us that the creation of life is the exclusive act of Allah Subhānahu wa Ta’lā. No matter what method and means one employs, if Allah Almighty does not wish to grant children, one will never have children. Allah Subhānahu wa Ta’lā says:
لِلَّهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاءُ يَهَبُ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ إِنَاثًا وَيَهَبُ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ الذُّكُورَ Oأَوْ يُزَوِّجُهُمْ ذُكْرَانًا وَإِنَاثًا وَيَجْعَلُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ عَقِيمًا إِنَّهُ عَلِيمٌ قَدِيرٌ42) O : 49– 50(
“To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills. He bestows female (children) to whomsoever He wills and bestows male (children) to whomsoever He wills, or He bestows both males and females, and He leaves barren whomsoever He wills. He is full of Knowledge and Power.” (42: 49-50)
Once a person came to Rasullullah Sallalahu alaihi wa Sallam and asked regarding coitus interrupts (azl), He replied saying that when Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’lā intends to create something, nothing can prevent Him.[iv] Similarly, when Allah does not intend to create something then there is nothing you can do contrary to that.
The Qur’an mentions two great Prophets of Allah who desired children. They beseeched Allah Subhanahu wa Taa’lā and were granted children in their old age. Allah says in the Quran regarding Zakaria Alaihis Salām :
فَنَادَتْهُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَهُوَ قَائِمٌ يُصَلِّي فِي الْمِحْرَابِ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يُبَشِّرُكَ بِيَحْيَى مُصَدِّقًا بِكَلِمَةٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَسَيِّدًا وَحَصُورًا وَنَبِيًّا مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ O قَالَ رَبِّ أَنَّى يَكُونُ لِي غُلَامٌ وَقَدْ بَلَغَنِيَ الْكِبَرُ وَامْرَأَتِي عَاقِرٌ قَالَ كَذَلِكَ اللَّهُ يَفْعَلُ مَا يَشَاءُO (3: 39-40)
“So the angels called him while he was standing in prayer in the chamber, “Indeed, Allah gives you good tidings of Yahya, confirming a word from Allah and (who will be) honorable, abstaining (from women), and a prophet from among the righteous.”He said, “My Lord, how will I have a boy when I have reached old age and my wife is barren?” The angel said, “Such is Allah ; He does what He wills.”.(3: 39-40)
It has been stated that Zakariya Alaihis Salām was 120 years old at that time and his wife was 90 years old. In another place in the Quran Allah Subhānahu wa Ta’lā mentions about Ibrahim Alaihis Salām:
وَامْرَأَتُهُ قَائِمَةٌ فَضَحِكَتْ فَبَشَّرْنَاهَا بِإِسْحَاقَ وَمِنْ وَرَاءِ إِسْحَاقَ يَعْقُوبَO قَالَتْ يَا وَيْلَتَى أَأَلِدُ وَأَنَا عَجُوزٌ وَهَذَا بَعْلِي شَيْخًا إِنَّ هَذَا لَشَيْءٌ عَجِيبٌ( 11:71-72) O
“And his wife was standing, and she smiled. Then We gave her glad tidings of Ishāq and after Ishāq, Ya’qoob. She said, “Woe to me! Shall I give birth while I am an old woman and this, my husband, is an old man? Indeed, this is an amazing thing!” (11:71-72)
It is also recorded that Ibrahim Alaihis Salām was 120 years old and his wife was 90 or 98 years old.
The recent issue of embryonic stem cell is still undergoing a research. Once this issue is researched, we will be able to issue a Fatwā.
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Mawlana Abdul Hannan Nizami,
Student Darul Iftaa
Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.
[iii] العناية شرح الهداية (2/ 330)
نَاكِحُ الْيَدِ مَلْعُونٌ
نَاكِحُ الْيَدِ مَلْعُونٌ
[iv] صحيح البخاري 3/ 148
حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ يُوسُفَ، أَخْبَرَنَا مَالِكٌ، عَنْ رَبِيعَةَ بْنِ أَبِي عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ يَحْيَى بْنِ حَبَّانَ، عَنِ ابْنِ مُحَيْرِيزٍ، قَالَ: رَأَيْتُ أَبَا سَعِيدٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، فَسَأَلْتُهُ، فَقَالَ: خَرَجْنَا مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِي غَزْوَةِ بَنِي المُصْطَلِقِ، فَأَصَبْنَا سَبْيًا مِنْ سَبْيِ العَرَبِ، فَاشْتَهَيْنَا النِّسَاءَ، فَاشْتَدَّتْ عَلَيْنَا العُزْبَةُ، وَأَحْبَبْنَا العَزْلَ، فَسَأَلْنَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، فَقَالَ: مَا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنْ لاَ تَفْعَلُوا مَا مِنْ نَسَمَةٍ كَائِنَةٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ القِيَامَةِ إِلَّا وَهِيَ كَائِنَةٌ