Artificial Insemination in Sharia’h and the Position of a Child Born Under It in Focus

ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION IN SHARIA’H AND THE POSITION OF A CHILD BORN UNDER IT IN FOCUS

Infertility is often incorrectly defined as a state of being barren or sterile. However, physicians consider infertility in childless couples a failure in conception that can be reversed so that fertility can be restored. They reserve the term “sterile” for a barren state that is permanent and irreversible from a medical view point, a couple is considered to be infertile if they are unable to conceive a pregnancy after a year of trial without contraception.

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The problem of infertility is as old as humanity itself. Sir William Osler, a Canadian physician once proclaimed; “the natural man has two primal passions, to get and to beget”[1]. Nevertheless, there are at all times in the USA five million couples who are able to experience only one of those desires. These involuntarily childless men and women are infertile. It is widely estimated that approximately 10% of British married couples are infertile responsible in about a third of these cases[2]. Couples often are relentless in efforts to achieve parenthood, and increasingly are seeking help from physicians trained in the management of infertility.

Treating infertile couples has become a growing specialty for gynecologists and urologists for a number of reasons. Foremost among them is the increased difficulty of adopting a child. In the past few decades, fewer babies have been available for adoption, simply because fewer were born. Later marriages, birth control increased availability of abortion, and effective publicity founded programs to control fertility all have had the effect of reducing the birth rate in many countries. In fact, population control has received such serious private and public attention in USA that it now experiences a new-negative population growth.

Happily, many couples no longer keep their infertility a secret no longer do they consider their childless state to be a reflection on their sexuality or human qualities. Instead they are appearing on programs or giving press interviews to inform others about nature and treatment of their problem. They have realized that there is simply no reason to think of infertility as a sign of being unfeminine, unmasculine or with today’s technology untreatable[3]. Herein past practices of the Muslims in coping with the infertility and their reactions to the innovation of modern science will be examined.

 2.2 Infertility as Mentioned in the Holy Qur’an

Creation of life is the function exclusively reserved to Allah. If Allah has not decreed a life, it will never come into existence, no matter what methods or techniques are applied. On the other hand, if Allah has decreed the creation of a life, there is nothing to prevent its coming into existence. If conception does not occur naturally, the Muslim should resign him/herself to the will of Allah.  In this regard the Qur’an declares:

Unto Allah belong; the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what he desires. He bestows females to whomever He wills or He grants them males and females, and whomever He wills He makes barren (infertile) verily He is the All knowing, the most powerful”[4].

 

Explicit mention is made in the Qur’an of at least two prophets viz, Ibrahim and Zakariyya may the peace of Allah be with them whose wives could initially not conceive, but after much supplication, eventually did bear children in their old age.  The Qur’an mentions:

And they gave him (Ibrahim) glad tidings of a son endowed with knowledge. But his wife (Sarah) came forward (laughing) aloud: she smote her forehead and said: “A barren old woman!” they said, “even so has thy Lord spoken: and he is full of wisdom and knowledge”[5].

 

The angels declared themselves and announced the glad tidings of the birth of a gentle son to Ibrahim may the blessings of Allah be with him who was approximately 100 years old. His wife Sarah was old (nearly ninety) and barren. Thus news seemed to her too good to be true. She came forward, laughed struck her forehead with her hands, indicative of her amusement as “a barren old woman”. Angels said: “what may found improbable to human beings will yet come to pass if Allah commands. And Allah thy Lord has spoken so shall it be. For all his promises are full of wisdom and knowledge”

This declaration by the angels was on that occasion, but the application is for all times and all human affairs never despair!

The Qur’an also mentions: “Said he (Zakariyya), ‘O Lord! How can I have a son when old age has reached me and my wife is barren? said God, “thus Allah does whatsoever he will!”[6] 

According to Muslim calculation Zakariyya, was 99 years old and his wife 98[7] Allah’s power is unlimited. His will is independent and is not bound by the known laws of universe. The general practice of divine will accords with the famous laws of cause and effect, but it is also the practice that Allah sometimes, creates things against the known  laws man extraordinary way.

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Islam is thus explicit in the matter of the creation of life all souls to appear on earth have already been decreed and predetermined in eternity. Long before the creation of the earth Islam tells us that Allah had decided on all creation. In view of this decreed of Allah, there is no need for Muslims to despair. Du’a is sufficient.

Nevertheless, childless couples in their yearning for children are hopeful that they, like the prophet Abraham and Zakariyya may the blessings of Allah be with them “would one day be blessed with children, their first step is to supplicate to Allah to cure them of their barrenness. It is quiet undoubtful that the highest number of those seeking for artificial reproduction are childless couples, for that Muslims among them should remember that they ought to apply Islamic channels in yearning of children.

 2.3 Causes of Infertility

Modern science has discovered that infertility could be caused by certain “defects” in either the husband or his spouse.

 2.3.1 Male Infertility

According to “World Health Organization (WHO) counting study, 49 percent of infertile men have no demonstrable cause of infertility, 13 percent have varicoceles, 11 percent have testicular failure, 7 percent have made accessory gland infection, 18 percent have other causes and only 2 percent of male infertility is due to congenital abnormalities[8]. The following are some of the known and possible causes of male infertility. They fall under two (2) categories poor sperm and no sperm. Those causes associated with poor sperm are discussed first, they are as follows:

Varicoceles: These are swallow vein in the testes, often referred to as resembling a “bag of worms” they are the most common diagnosable problem associated with infertility in men.

Infection: Several infections can reduce infertility or cause infertility by affecting glands, sperm and the immune system. They include tuberculosis, mumps, typhoid, influenza, small fox and brucellosis; all of which are now uncommon in western countries; where sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) are more common. STDs can affect sperm quality and in severe cases a blockage in the reproductive tract. Untreated STD infections can result in permanent infertility. In western countries; STDs account for probably a fifth of male and female infertility and are by far the most preventable cause. The main culprits are gonorrhea and Chlamydia[9].

Environmental factors: Occupational hazards such as exposure to toxic chemicals, heat, noise and vibrations may affect fertility as well as well as sexual behavior by causing reduced sperm production and impotence. People in agriculture, laboratories, the oil, chemicals and atomic industries, pulp and paper manufacturing and textile work are the most likely to be exposed to substances that may affect reproduction, according to the study by the United state Office of Technology Assessment[10]. Heat around the testes can temporarily reduce or stop sperm production. The testes can hang in the scrotum so that they stay about two degrees Celsius cooler than body temperature. The effect of increased testicular temperature on sperm has been known since the 1920’s when Chicago pathologist Carl Moore quality sperm[11]. Infertility or sub fertile man one often told not to have hot baths or saunas. Men who sit for a long time, such as taxis and truck drivers, are thought to be more at risk than someone moving around a shop, office or factory; as are men who wear tight underwear, compared with boxer shorts. Very tight jeans may also have the very same effect.

Stress: This may be far more influential in infertility that doctors are prepared to admit. Men in life and death situations have been known to stop producing sperm, including those on death row.

Obesity: Just being overweight is thought to reduce fertility fatty tissue metabolizes hormones and obese people have abnormal hormone levels that could affect sperm production.

Cigarettes, Drugs and Alcohol: These reduce sperm count and motility. Alcohol in large amounts is definitely responsible for many cases of impotence. It can also cut the production or testosterone, leading to shrinkage of the testes.  Heroin and other narcotics can cause ejaculation problems and impotence.

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Injuries:  Torsion usually occurs during puberty when one testicle or the cord supplying blood on it twists inside the scrotum. It can be extremely painful and dangerous. The testicles swell because the blood cannot escape and if the vessels rupture, the internal bleeding can damage the sperm reproducing cells. The causes of male infertility associated with no sperm are as follows:

  1. Congenital problems: Very occasionally men are born with hypospadians, where the urethra opens above or beneath penis rather than at the end[12].
  2. Problem with intercourse: Some experts report up to 10 percent of male infertility is due to problems with intercourse known as sexual dysfunction. A man is unable to deposit sperm in the cervix if he suffers from impotence, premature ejaculation, or failure to ejaculate. It is not surprising that a husband might have doubts that he will be able to perform once he experience his first episode of dysfunction[13].
  • Paraplegia: A man is paralyzed in the lower half of his body cannot get an erection naturally. It is important that doctors investigate men thoroughly and that men realize it takes two for a conception to occur. No loving man should subject his wife to drugs and surgery until he has undergone a full fertility and analysis, which is cheap instant and for less strenuous than testina infertility in his partner.

 2.4 Infertility in Women

The union of a health egg with a health sperm is the basic of infertility. Anything that interferes with this process and the implantation of the fertilized egg in the wall of the uterus can cause infertility. The “World Health Organization (WHO) 25 country study found that worldwide tubal abnormalities and ovarian failure were the prime causes of female infertility. 41 percent of infertile women who had diagnosed condition had tubal malfunction and 38 percent had ovarian uterine and cervical abnormalities for 5 percent congenital abnormalities and TB were rare[14]. To give an idea of numbers professor Ricardo School of the University of California at Irvine has calculated that 121500 American women are infertile because of ovulation failures, 675000 because of tubal damage, 180,000 have endomentnoses, 135,000 immunological problems, 90,000 have cervical problems. He estimated that about 855,000 cases have known cause[15]. The following are some of the known and possible causes of female infertility.

  1. Ovulation failure: Failure of the ovaries to release an egg may be due to several reasons. An extremely rare but obvious one is that both ovaries are not present, either because the woman was born without them or had them surgically removed, possibly because of cancer. If one or both ovaries are present but not ovulating, it could be because of a temporary shut down due to the effect of certain drugs or it could be physical problem where the ovaries may be too small or immature or the women may reach menopause early. Sometimes the quality of the eggs may be substandard.
  2. Endometriosis: Occurs when some of the lining of the uterus if flushed through the tubes to other parts of the pelvic cavity including the outside of the uterus, bowel, bladder, ovaries and tubes, where it implants and grows and bleeds, as if it were in the uterus resulting in scaring which prevents conception and implantation.

Hyperprolactinemia means too much prolactin (the milk hormone that     normally is deviated when a mother is breastfeeding) condition. David London, Professor of Medicine at BIRMINGHAM UNIVERSITY, England says, elevated prolatin is far more common than doctors are aware of and until recently it was responsible for a large proportion of unexplained infertility[16].

Tubal Damage: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is by far the most cause in damaging the tubes. It is normally caused by sexually transmitted disease the number of women rendered infertile by STDs has increased recently with promiscuity and extra marital relationship. The more sexual partners, the greater the chance of contracting an STD, leading to an infection may be scaring and possibly blocked tubes. This is one of the many reasons that Islam condemned all forms of promiscuous behavior in society.

Surgery anywhere in the pelvic region can stet an infection or inflammation, and leave scarred tissue which can block, damage or distort the tubes, even under the best conditions with the best equipment. Appendicitis is occasionally responsible for scarring. A study released in 1987 by the United States National Institute of Health showed that when the appendix ruptures, the women is five times more likely to become infertile subsequently if she has never had a pregnancy, and three times more likely if she has already had at least one pregnancy[17].

Cervical Problem: A couple can be denied a child because of a cervical problem at opposite ends of the conceiving scale; either before fertilization or before delivery. Sperm may encounter a physical barrier if fertilization and implantation are successful, the pregnancy may be lost in a miscarriage because the cervix is too week or damage to hold the baby. I want to say confidently that, infertility in women is more common than in men and a large proportion of it could be prevented by reducing sexual transmitted disease, which is so rampant in this decadent society of ours, that the immoral behavior of the human race could be the very cause of its self destruction.

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After having diagnosed the causes of male and female infertility which considered to be the major cause of the technique of artificial reproduction, it would now be possible to proceed first to the concept of polygamy and foster parenting as a solution to incurable infertility of childless couples and as well to secondly analyze the biomedical possibilities offered in combating such deficiencies; and thereafter investigate the Islamic response to such innovative techniques.

 2.5 Polygamy

With the advent of Islam the unrestricted number of wives of “times of ignorance” was strictly limited to four, provided you could treat them equally in material things as well as in affection and in all other aspects of life. Therefore, those opting for more than one wife, it is obligatory to maintain equality in all aspects among them. If this equality is not observed, his one side of the body will be paralysed and will crawl by the other side in the hereafter.

Regarding polygamy the Qur’an declares:

“If you apprehend that you may not act justly with the orphan-girls, then marry other women who seem good to you, two or three or four, but if you fear that you will not do justice to them marry one only; or a captive that your right hand possess. In this it is likely that you will not bend towards one side”[18].

         Allamah Daryabadi quoting Mrs. Annie Besant on polygamy mentions:

“When we see thousands of miserable women who crowd the streets of western towns during the night, we must surely feel that it does not lie western mouth to reproach Islam for its polygamy. It is better for a woman to live in Mohammadan polygamy united to one man only, with legitimate child in her arms, surrounded with respect than to be seduced, cast out in the streets perhaps with an illegitimate child outside the pale of law unsheltered and uncared for, to become a victim of any passer-by, night after night, rendered incapable of motherhood, despised of all”[19].

Islam also allows polygamy to permit a man whose wife is incapable of having children for some reason or other, to remarry, to satisfy his natural needs and at the same time maintain his childless wife[20].

Although polygamy may resolve the problem of man whose infertile wife cannot produce children, however, if the defect lies in him; polygamy will not solve his problem. If there is no ingrained defect in the man, having another wife may bring him children, but this would in no way solve his barren wife’s craving to a mother. Therefore, foster parenting is the most practical solution for the barren couple in the both of them can share in the joy of rearing a child, though not their own. The foster child may still be brought up as if she/he is their own offspring[21].  By adopting such a positive attitude Muslims have demonstrated that they have coped with the problem of sterility and have not become victims of depression.

 2.6 Foster Parenting

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