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THE ISLAMIC VIEW ON CLONING AND STEM-CELL RESEARCH

By Dr. Malik S. Khan

A Publication of Motamar at the United Nations by

the International Islamic Council for Da`wa and Relief


Cloning is different from the natural way of reproduction.  Matrimonial relationship, including sex, is a sacred and private activity according to the Qur’an.  Allah (S.W.T.) says, “They (wives) are (like) a garment to you, and you are like a garment to them.” (Ayah 187, Surah 2, Al-Baqarah).  When Allah (S.W.T.) cursed Satan, Satan said, “I will most surely take due share from thy servants and will mislead them; I will entice them by vain desires; I will command them and they will slit the ears of the cattle by my order, and I will command them and they will make alterations and corrupt Allah’s creation.”  (Ayahs 118 and 119, Surah 4, Al-Nisa, page 143.)  Therefore, cloning of a mixture of third-party semen or third-party egg through which a clone is produced by replacing the nucleus is haram on the grounds that the third-party egg or semen has been added in order to clone, where both the egg and the semen are required to be of the same married couple, and it is very sacred for them.  On these grounds the cloning becomes haram.  But if you take the semen and the egg of a married couple, whether you clone it for the purpose of producing the baby or for the purpose of medical research, it may be allowed to see how the disease genes can be replaced within the same system of genes with the halal method.


  It is a misguidance ordered by Satan, though it appears to be a use of an advanced human knowledge.  No doubt, it is a misuse of knowledge and technology, like use of mathematics in gambling, art of photography for pornographic pictures and indecent activities, etc.  As Muslims it is our belief that Allah (S.W.T.) is All-Wise and Rasulullah (S.A.W.S.) had prophetic wisdom given by Allah (S.W.T.).  Therefore, every order of Allah has wisdom and every order of Rasulullah (S.A.W.S.) has wisdom.  Allah’s orders and the Prophet’s orders are for our own good.  Rasulullah (S.A.W.S.) cursed the women who practice tattooing, who remove hair from the eyebrows (it is to be noted that artificial eyebrows were nonexistent during that period; just trimming of eyebrows was a fashion) and making an artificial gap between their teeth, referring to these ayahs of Surah Al-Nisa (using the three words of the second ayah, meaning to alter the creation of Allah). 


The world today is encountering a new Pandora’s box.  This Pandora’s box is about to open its lid to a billion-dollar industry for doctors and lawyers.  But unfortunately it is going to destroy the fabric of the family, resulting in criminal and ethical chaos.  191 nations at the United Nations all are also debating which side of the coin they are on as to whether to support or prohibit human cloning and its applications, such as stem-cell research for curing diseases and repairing defective human parts.  But it all boils down to haram and halal, which we have to look at from the Islamic perspective.  Unfortunately, under the umbrella of fertility the big semen banks are geared to make the so-called supermen with pre-designed gene structure.  The semen bank will provide semen for women to choose the father’s side of the offspring.  The woman may or may not use her own egg.  It will be very dangerous for those who will wipe out races from the world.  The idea behind it is to choose the color of the skin, the color of the eye, the color of the hair, the height, and everyone to have a macho generation, a sportsman-type creature to be produced.  It is like reproduction by group sex (combining genes of a few or many persons).  It is fornication in the laboratory.


It may or may not be permissible in a non-Islamic society.  However, this misuse of knowledge and technology can create new social and legal problems.  There is a case, for instance, where a woman took the stored semen of her deceased husband and made herself pregnant to claim inheritance.  The surrogate mother and the biological mother fighting for custody of the baby is another case.  Who is the mother of the baby in society?  By cloning, there would be no biological father or mother.  Custom designing from a legitimate married couple is also a Satanic and sinful activity.  Handling of semen and eggs, genes, etc. by others in a laboratory can never be reliable, and there is always a risk of intentional and unintentional errors (change of labels, etc.)  There has been an incident in the U.S.A. that a doctor used his own semen for eight eggs of different women, and he admitted that.  (This incident was published in a newspaper.)  The clone of a human creating a copy of himself to carry on his inheritance will create conflict of the children with his wife.  Now the emergent phenomenon of cloning will produce all same-looking humans, which will create new chaos.  One aspect of the issue is stem-cell research, and another is using adult cells to produce embryos for harvesting body parts.


There is Allah’s wisdom in the individuality of humans’ facial features, physical features, voice, fingerprints, skills, knowledge, etc.  If Allah (S.W.T.) willed, He would have created all human beings alike and with the same skills or level of skills, but He did not.  Otherwise, the world affairs would not run.  There is His wisdom.  Allah (S.W.T.) says, “Glorified is He Who created in pairs all species that the earth produces, as well as of their own (humankind) (male and female), and of those which they know not.”  (Ayah 36, Surah 36, Ya-Sin).


True cloning is still not possible because, though they may produce a clone specimen in physical looks, but with spirituality, emotions, personality, and other features it may always lack.  At the time of conception, the conditioning process, the feeling of the mother and father, passes on to the baby, giving it its personality and behavior in life, as mentioned by Imam Ghazali and confirmed by today’s scientific evidence.  Contrary to that, it is possible that the cloned baby will be machine-made with the traits to be a druggie, alcoholic, gambler, adulterer, or a ruthless, feelingless person.


Therapeutic cell treatment is the name for the scientific research involved in curing diseases or making the defective organ workable again.  We have to look from the perspective of using the technology to repair the organ by growing cells in the laboratory.  For instance, creating for a diabetic person a pancreas in the laboratory and injecting the cells of that healthy pancreas into the diabetic’s defective pancreas to repair the pancreas so the person will no longer be diabetic.  It can be halal only if the person is given from the fair and square means of this laboratory growth. 


In the Western world today mother, grandmother and grandchild are producing babies and parts for each other, as in the recently publicized case of the woman being the surrogate mother of her own daughter-in-law's embryo.  In the Islamic sense it will be zina (adultery) for a woman to carry her daughter’s or daughter-in-law's fertilized egg.  That will be an illegal and unethical conception.  At the same time, it is not allowed in Islam to make an abortion of a baby in order to use the organ or tissues for another person, though a therapeutic abortion to save the life of the expectant mother is permitted in Islam.  Islam allows saving the life, but the concept of haram and halal prevails.  At the same time, Islam does not allow trade in human organs.  Nuclear somatic cell transfer is prohibited in Islam. 


Islam also does not allow the taking of any part of, or tissue of, any human embryo for someone else.  The halal and haram concept restricts the tissues and body parts, semen and egg, to be utilized between husband and wife and for the baby, but cannot take to the grandparents and to the grandchildren in any form.  Simultaneously, it is the matter of shariah to point out to you that in Islam a baby who drinks the milk of a woman other than his biological mother is considered to be the brother or sister of the milk mother’s children and cannot marry his or her milk siblings.


Organ transplants among family members are often successful because the genetic similarity reduces the chances of the organ being rejected.  But at the same time, if the organs or the therapeutic cells are produced, we are limited only by the haram and halal concept.  Shariah will allow only to a certain extent. To create tissue or organs by a non-sexual process from the cells of a body for the same body’s benefit may be allowed.  But shariah will not allow the creation of stem cells by sexual reproduction for other members of the family or other persons, because it will be a violation. 


Cracking the human genetic code is the most advanced scientific progress the human race has achieved.  It might or might not result in a breakthrough against AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and other diseases.  But the advancement in biomedical technology has come at the expense of the human conscience.  Science has set before us decisions with immense consequences.  We can pursue medical research with a clear sense of moral purpose, and we can travel only through the ethical and moral process that we have to live by as for thousands of years the human family has survived on Planet Earth and must keep the sanctity of the sacred bond between husband and wife.  Today the West has used its cloning methods to achieve and put genetic material from a donor into a woman’s egg which has had its nucleus removed.  As a result, the new or cloned embryo is an identical copy of only the donor.  Human cloning has moved from science fiction to scientific possibility.  This is a sad day of history.


Some of this bio-tech mishmash play with embryonic human clone and animal eggs mixing has given rise to antibiotic-resistant diseases. 


Cloning is an area that needs more research under the auspices of haram and halal.  We may be able to draw our lines to ascertain how far and in what way we will be able to cure certain diseases or treat certain diseases.  As you know, Islam allows the reproduction of human beings through the marriage concept where the limitations are very well defined, and our Muslim medical practitioners have achieved and marked their boundaries not to cross.  They produce positive results.  Today we are involved in an arena where people are trying to create human beings through human cloning.  They have no morals.  They will create monsters.  They will create their own so-called supermen.  Then the world will go into criminal chaos.  It will be difficult to control the identity of human beings.


Remaining with Islam in the haram and halal concept, the Islamic nations are blessed today by not having AIDS at a chaotic rate as compared to all others, who are on a disaster course.  Soon many will be wiped out.  It is my opinion that the `ulema and scientists must work together in a team and teach each other and bring the benefits by creating positive, productive, saleh (righteous), nek (virtuous), God-fearing, law-abiding, gambling-free, AIDS-free, adultery-free, crime-free, divorce-free individuals for our society by practicing the Islamic method. I would request all the non-Muslims to adhere to the religious practices as prescribed by their prophet, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," applying the extended sense of this prohibition as may be applicable to scientific or medical interventions in human reproduction.


The Qur’an orders that a child should be called by his or her father’s name.  Even an adopted child cannot have the name of the adoptive father as Islam protects the rights of the child and the child’s parents.  Islam also requires a Muslim woman after the divorce or death of her husband to wait an `iddat (waiting period) to remarry, in order to determine if she had gotten pregnant during her marriage.  In case of death, the `iddat is four months and ten days and in case of divorce, three months or three menstrual periods, in order to protect the identity and inheritance of the child.


The twenty-first century legacy of Islam will continue.  We must research and look for scientific evidence and read it inside the Qur'an and enforce it in our way of life to make the `ummah receive its maximum benefit.  Also, Islamic da`wah and irshad in the world through scientific evidence and the scientific method will provide an opportunity for non-Muslims to seek guidance and govern themselves and their behavior in a manner in which they will seek their own salvation.  The conference which I attended in Dubai delivered a great message: the Adab-ul-Qur'an, the Ejaz-ul-Qur'an, and the Mumtaz-ul-Qur'an.  It is our obligation that the evidence of science in Qur’an can give benefit of this truth of divine guidance that Allah has provided in the Qur'an and other holy scriptures for the benefit of humanity.  The Qur'an not only verifies but has given advance knowledge 1400 years ago of phenomena that science is still discovering.  It is definitely a passport to Paradise.


I am pleased to present to this Assembly that H.E. Dr. Abdullah bin Omar Nasseef, President of World Muslim Congress, H.E. Dr. Abdullah Al-Mohsin Al-Turki, Secretary-General of Muslim World League, H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Muslah, Secretary-General of The Commission on Scientific Signs of Qur’an and Sunnah, the Fiqh Council of the Islamic world, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Islamic countries of the world jointly and unanimously have condemned human cloning and would like to see a ban on human cloning.  Simultaneously, they are postponing at the United Nations any resolutions regarding cloning.  Nevertheless, they have left a loophole or door open for stem-cell research as a future method or medicine which man will achieve to repair the damaged parts or build spare parts for the human body.


We have produced documentation on cloning research from different sources including CDs, pamphlets, magazines, documents, newspaper articles, and Internet articles as a PowerPoint presentation for any questions to give the pros and cons from different parties.  This presentation has reached 200 slides and is still growing.  We are presenting this paper worldwide and globalizing the international conference findings of scientific signs in Qur’an and Sunnah for the benefit of humanity.