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            Every man is free to say whatever he wants, and no one is entitled to stop him from doing so. By the same token, it is also not incumbent upon anyone to heed his statements or to consider them with respect. This is true irrespective of the speaker's station, whether high or low, venerable or otherwise, when his speech pertains to something outside the area of his specialty.  Therefore, if an authority on law gives an opinion on a question of medicine or agriculture, it is not correct for a plaintiff to cite that opinion in support of his case, nor is it correct for a judge to base his judgment upon it.  

            Similarly, in the case of apostles, prophets, Imáms and authorities on law, it is not obligatory upon anyone to believe their statements about issues concerning physical nature, such as the creation of the earth and the heavens, the distances between them, their origin and their end, the elements of which they are composed and the forces therein.  Sacred personalities at times explained a certain phenomenon in their capacity as a sacred authority; at other times they spoke about things in their personal capacity, like all other human beings who say what they conjecture or hear from others. Therefore, when they speak in their religious capacity, it is mandatory upon us to listen to them and to obey them, as long as their religious decree does not exceed the limits of their specialty.  But when they speak in their personal capacity, it is not mandatory to follow them, because, here, their word is not regarding religion or things related to it.

            Thus a legislating authority, religious or secular, should limit itself to framing and expounding laws and regulations, with the aim of encouraging some acts and discouraging others, and explaining their causes and effects, approving one contract as binding together with its terms and conditions and invalidating another as not binding, and issues of this kind which safeguard the social order and ensure the common good.  

            But as regards natural phenomena--such as the minimum or the maximum period of pregnancy--it is not within the domain of a lawgiver to either affirm or deny them or to make amendments. This is because the realities of nature and their causes are not alterable; they do not change due to the change of conditions and passage of time, in contrast with social laws, which are laid down, abrogated and modified by the lawgiver's will.  

            It is obvious that a lawgiver does make external realities of nature the subject of his laws, for instance, when he lays down that a child in the womb has the right to inherit from the father, that the birth of a child leads to an increase in the statutory allowance of the mother, or that when the wheat produce exceeds the consumption of farmers, the surplus should be taken into government custody, etc. But the explanation of natural phenomena relating to the subject of laws is the task of specialists. If there is anything in the statements of legal authorities explaining or defining such phenomena, it is nothing but an attestation of what specialists have reported. Therefore, when a judge refers an issue for specialist opinion and the fact is known showing the error of its description by jurists, it is not mandatory that their observations be followed, because we know with certainty that the jurists have spoken regarding a phenomenon which pre-existed legislation; the intent of their remarks was to explain this pre-existing fact. Thus, when the opposite is proved to follow their word would be equivalent to acting against their purpose and intention. The jurists themselves name this kind of mistake "mistake in application"; it is similar to the mistake of a person who asks for a cup while pointing towards a stone resembling it.  

            After this introduction, we move on to our actual subject.  As the child is the subject of many Islamic laws--such as its right to inherit from the father; the illegitimacy of its marriage with its sibling, the father's right to act as a guardian of its person and property until maturity; the mandate of its maintenance, and such other legal and moral rights--the jurists are forced to determine the minimum and the maximum period of gestation. It is obvious that this issue pertains to the specialty of doctors of medicine not of law, and, therefore, it is not necessary that the word of jurists be acted upon if it contradicts actual fact and reality. Because, in such circumstances, the logic of reality is stronger than their logic, and its proof prevails over their evidence. When the opinions of natural philosophers and physical scientists collapse before reality, it is more in order that the observations of those who are in no way connected with a particular field of specialization should collapse before facts. We mention here the views of different schools of Islamic law regarding the minimum and maximum period of gestation, on the assumption that one is not obliged to follow these views when they are not in consonance with facts.

The Minimum Period of Gestation:

            The opinion of all the legal schools of Islam, both Sunni and Shi'i, is that the minimum gestation period is six months, because the 15th verse of the chapter al-’a<qáf expressly states that the gestation period (muddat al-<aml) along with the period of suckling (rida`ah) is thirty months:

... And its gestation and its weaning shall be a period of thirty months

and the 14th verse of chapter Luqmán states that the period of suckling is to be two complete years:

... And its weaning shall be in a period of two years.

When two years are subtracted from thirty months, the remainder is six months, which is the minimum period of gestation. Modern medicine supports this view and the French legislature has also adopted it.  

            The following rules are derived from the above observations:  

1. When within six months of her marriage a woman gives birth to a child, the child will not be attributed to her husband.  Al-Shaykh al-Mufíd and al-Shaykh al-^úsí-- both Imamis-- and al-Shaykh Mu<yí al-Dín `abd al-\amíd of the \anafi school have said that the choice of denying or accepting the child's parentage lies with the husband.  If he accepts the child as his, the child shall be considered his legitimate offspring, and shall enjoy all the rights of a legitimate child.   Similarly, the father shall have all those powers over it as over the other legitimate children.

    When the couple differs regarding the period of their conjugal relationship (she claims that they existed since six months or more, and he denies it, claiming the period to be shorter than six months and denying the child to be his), Abu \anífah is of the opinion that the wife's word shall be considered true and acted upon without her taking an oath.      The Imamites say: If circumstantial evidence favors his or her contention, it will be acted upon, and if no such evidence exists, the judge shall accept the wife's word after she takes the oath that sex relations with the husband had existed since six months; then the child shall be attributed to the husband.    

2. When a husband divorces his wife after intercourse and she, after observing the waiting period, marries another and gives birth to a child within six months of her second marriage, if six months or more--but not exceeding the maximum period of gestation--have elapsed since her intercourse with the first husband, the child shall be attributed to the former husband. But if more than six months have elapsed after her second marriage, the child be attributed to the second husband.

3. When a woman contracts a second marriage after divorce and then gives birth to a child within six months of intercourse with the second husband, if more than the maximum period of gestation has elapsed since intercourse with the former husband, the child shall not be attributed to any of them. For example, if eight months after divorce a woman marries another person and after living with him for five months gives birth to a child, supposing the maximum period of gestation to be a year, it is not possible to attribute the child to the former husband, because more than a year has elapsed since they had intercourse. It is neither possible to attribute the child to her present husband because six months have not yet passed since their marriage.

The Maximum Period of Gestation According to Ahl al-Sunnah:

            Abu Han;fah has said: The maximum gestation period is two years on account of a tradition narrated by 'A ishah that a woman does not carry a child in her womb for more than two years. Malik, al-Shafi'; and Ibn Hanbal state the period to be four years, on the basis that the wife of 'Ajlan carried her child for four years before delivery. It is strange that the wife of his son, Muhammad, had a similar gestation period. In fact all women of Banu 'Ajlan have a gestation period of four years,  which indicates God's power over His creation.  

            This argument, if it proves anything, shows the piousness of these legists and their good intentions, and how often the logic of piety prevails over the logic of reality.     'Abbad ibn 'Awwam puts the maximum period of gestation at five years, al-Zuhar; at seven years, and according to Abu 'Ubayd there is no maximum period of gestation.    

            It follows from these conflicting opinions, that if a person divorces his wife or dies and she, without marrying again after him, bears a child, the child shall be attributed to him if born after: two years, according to Abu Hanlfah; four years, according to Sháfi`is, Málikis and \anbalis; five years, according to Ibn 'Awwam; seven years according to al-Zuhar;; and twenty years according to Abu 'Ubayd.  

            Legislation in Egypt relieves us from a critical examination of these varied opinions. The Egyptian Sharí`ah courts followed the Hanafis code until the passing of Act 25 of 1~29. Section 15 of this Act categorically mentions that the maximum period of gestation is one year.

The Maximum Gestation Period According to the Shí`ah:

            There is a difference of opinion among Imam; scholars regarding the maximum period of gestation. Most of them have stated it to be nine months, some of them ten months, and some others a year. Thus there is a consensus that the period does not exceed a year, even by an hour. Therefore, if a woman, divorced or widowed, gives birth to a child after one year, the child shall not be attributed to the husband, because there is a tradition from al-'Imam al-@ádiq ('a):

If a man divorces his wife and she claims to be pregnant, and then gives birth to a child after more than a year has passed, even though by an hour, her claim shall not be accepted.

Walad al-Shubhah:

            Shubhah--that is a mistake which leads a man to have intercourse with a woman haram to him, as a result of his ignorance of her being such--is of two kinds: shubhat `aqd(mistake of contract) and shubhat fi`l (mistake of act).     1. 'Mistake of contract' occurs where a man concludes a marriage contract with a woman in a manner in which legal contracts

of marriage are concluded and later it is known that the contract was invalid due to the presence of a cause sufficient to invalidate the contract.     2. 'Mistake of act' occurs where a person copulates with a woman without there being between them any contract, valid or invalid, and he does so either without conscious attention or thinking that she is ,halal to him, and later the opposite is discovered.     Sexual intercourse by a lunatic, or an intoxicated person, or a person in sleep, or a man under the false impression that the woman is his wife, comes under this category. Abu Hanífah has extended the meaning of this form of 'mistake' to its utmost limits where he has observed: Where a man hires a woman for some work and then fornicates with her, or hires her for fornication and does so, the two will not be penalized for fornication, because of his ignorance that his hiring her does not include this act.

            Accordingly, if she is working in a business establishment or a factory and the proprietor of such establishment copulates with her believing this to be one of the benefits which accrue to him as a result of his hiring her, this act will not be termed fornication, but will be considered 'a mistake' and shall be a valid excuse for the proprietor in Abu Hanífah's opinion.  

            It follows from the above discussion that a child born as a result of 'intercourse by mistake' is a legitimate offspring and is equal in all respects to a child born out of a valid wedlock, irrespective of whether the mistake is a 'mistake of contract' or a 'mistake of act'. Therefore, he who has intercourse with a woman while in a state of intoxication, or in sleep, or in a state of lunacy or under coercion, or before reaching the age of maturity, or under an impression that she is his wife, with the opposite being discovered later--in all such cases if she gives birth to a child, it shall be attributed to him.  

            The Imamiyyah have said: In all such cases of mistake, the legality of lineage is established and if the man refuses to recognize the child as his, his refusal shall not be accepted and the child will be compulsorily attributed to him.

            Muhammad Muhyi al-Din, in al-'Ahwal al-shakh,siyyah, p. 480, observes that lineage is not established in any form of 'copulation by mistake' unless the person acting mistakenly claims the child to be his and acknowledges it, because he knows himself better. But this view is incorrect when applied to a lunatic, to one in sleep, or to an intoxicated person, because they do not act with conscious intent. It is also inapplicable in the case of mistake of contract because there is no difference between a valid contract and an invalid contract except that the couple shall separate when the invalidity of the contract becomes known, and there is a consensus among the Sunni and Shí`i schools that whenever a mistake, in any one of its different forms, is proved, it is wajib for the woman to observe 'iddah, as observed by a divorcee; she is also entitled to receive the full mahr. Therefore, the rules which apply to a wife will apply to her as regards 'iddah, mahr and child's lineage.

            The mistake may be from the side of the man as well as the woman, so that both are ignorant and inattentive. It may be from only one side, such as when the woman knows that she has a lawful husband but hides it from the man, or when he is aware while she is a lunatic or in a state of intoxication. When the mistake is from both sides the child shall be attributed to both of them, and if the mistake is from only one side the child shall be attributed to the parent acting under mistake and not to the parent who was aware.  

            If a person copulates with a woman and then claims ignorance regarding its being haram, his word shall be accepted without proof and oath.

            In any case, the legal principles, according to Sunni and Shí`i schools, do not permit any ruling ascribing illegitimate birth to a child born of a father when there is a possibility of ascribing its birth to a mistake. Therefore, if a Qádí has evidence before him to suggest 99% probability of the child's illegitimate birth and only 1% probability suggesting it is 'a child by mistake', it is incumbent upon him to accept the latter evidence and disregard the former, giving preference to halal over haram and legitimacy over illegitimacy, in consonance with the Divine injunctions:

               And speak good to the people (2 83)

k~sehew much su.spicion, for surely some suspicion is a sin. (49 12)

    Commentators of the Holy Qur'án have narrated that one day when the Prophet (s) was delivering a sermon, a man who was taunted by people regarding his lineage, stood up and asked, "O Prophet, who is my father?" The Prophet (s) replied, "Your father is Hudhayfah Ibn Qays." Another parson asked him (s), "O Prophet, where is my father'.)" The Prophet (~) replied, "Your father is in hell. ' Here verse l~)1 of the chapter nl-Ma'idah was revealed:

O believers, question not concerning things which, if they were revealed to you, would vex you....

    Traditions of the Prophet (S) recorded by Sunni and Shí`i sources state:

             Penal consequences are repelled by doubts.

I cavc that which puls you into doubt for that which does not.

Imam 'All Ibn Abu, ^álib ('a) has said:

c~ivc the hcst interpretalion to your hrother~s act.

Al-'Imam al-Sadiq ('a) has said:

    Reject the evidence of your ear and eye regarding your brother.

    The above-mentioned verses of the Qurí·n and the reliable and unambiguous traditions quoted, as well as many other verses and traditions of the kind, make it incumbent upon every person to abstain from testifying and judging anyone as an illegitimate offspring unless there exists certainty that he is not in reality a child of mistake in any of its forms.

Child Born of al-Mut`ah:

    There is something in this regard of which most people are not aware, and I thank the person who wrote me a letter inquiring about this issue. Now, with the present opportunity to explain this legal and historical issue, I intend to be brief to the best of my ability. I shall he a narrator, not a partisan or critic, and shall leave the reader to judge for himself, keeping the matter open for him to affirm or reject.  

            There is a consensus amongst the Sunni; and Shí`i schools that mut'ah (temporary marriage) was halal by the order of the Prophet (S) and that Muslims performed mut'ah during his time. But they differ regarding its revocation. The Sunnls say: Mut'ah has been revoked and made haram after being halal earlier.

The Sh;'ah state: Revocation has not been proved: it was halal and shall remain so until the Day of Judgment. The Shl'ah cite verse 24 of Surat al-Nisá' as evidence:

    ... Give them ~heir dowry for the mut'ah you have had with them as a duty....

    (4 24)

And that which Muslim has narrated in his al-Sahih as a proof:

I he Companions of the Prophet (s) performed mut'ah during his lifetime and during the reigns of Abu Bakr and 'Umar.

    The mut'ah form of marriage is a marriage for a fixed period of timc. and according to the Shi'ah it is similar to the permanent marriage as regards the recital of a contract proving express intention of marriage.  

             Consequently, any form of sexual contact between a man and a woman without a contract will not be considered mut'ah even if it is by mutual consent and inclination. When the contract is recited it becomes binding and its observance becomes obligatory.     It is compulsory that mahr be mentioned in the contract of mut'ah. This mahr is similar to the mahr of a permanent wife, there being no prescribed minimum or maximum limit, and half of it subsides when the stipulated period is gifted or expires without consummalion, in consonance with the rule applied in the mahr of a permanent wife divorced before consummation.  

            It is incumbent upon the woman with whom mut'ah has been contracted to undergo the 'iddah after the completion of the stipulated time, with the difference that a divorcee observes an 'iddah of three months or three menstrual cycles, while in mut'ah she observes an 'iddah of two menstrual cycles or forty-five days. But as to the 'iddah observed on the death of the husband, the wife in mut'ah observes it for four months and ten days, which is the same as observed by a permanent wife, irrespective of consummation.     The child born of this form of marriage is legitimate and enjoys all the rights of a legitimate child without the exception of a single legal or moral right.  

            It is compulsary that mut'ah be contracted for a fixed period of time and it is necessary that this stipulated time be mentioned in the contract. The wife in mut'ah does not inherit from her husband and her maintenance is also not obligatory upon him, in contrast with the permanent wife, who both inherits and is entitled to maintenance. But a wife in mut'ah can stipulate at the time of the contract that she shall inherit and be entitled to maintenance, and if the contract is concluded on these terms, the wife in mut'ah becomes similar to a permanent wife.

            In spite of their belief in the validity of mut'ah, the Sh;';s of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon do not practise it, and the Ja'fari Shar;'ah Courts in Lebanon, since their inception, have neither applied this form of marriage nor authorized it.

The Illegitimate Child (Walad al-Zina):

    One who studies the verses of the Qur'an, the traditions of the Prophet (s) and the statements of Muslim legists, finds that Islam leaves no room for anyone to accuse others of fornication. Islam has framed the related rules of furnishing proof and giving judgment in a manner that makes this task difficult or even impossible. Whereas Islam considers two just ('adil) witnesses sufficient for proving homicide, in the case of fornication it requires four just witnesses to testify that they have witnessed the act of penetration itself. It is not sufficient for them to say that so and so fornicated with so and so, or that they saw the two naked hugging each other in a bed under a single cover. If three witnesses bear witness while the fourth abstains, each of the three shall be liable to a punishment of eighty lashes. Similarly a person who accuses a man or a woman of fornication shall be liable to eighty lashes.

            The purpose behind all this is to cover the deeds of people, to protect their honour, to protect the family from the fear of ruined descent and the children from homelessness.  

            Fornication is the committing of the act by a mature and sane person with the knowledge of its being haram. Therefore fornication cannot be committed by a person who has not attained maturity or is insane or is ignorant or has been coerced or is in a state of intoxication. The act committed by these people will be considered 'intercourse by mistake', and we have discussed earlier the rules which apply to it. From the above discussion, it becomes clear that the Islamic Law gives a very restricted interpretation to fornication; firstly, by limiting its application to an act committed with knowledge and intention, wherein there is no scope for attributing it to a mistake or fault in any manner. Secondly, it has restricted the manner of proving it in court by requiring four just witnesses who havc sccn it with their own eyes, whereas, generally, such an act is not observable. It is possible for a single witness to have seen it, wl1ilc it is almost impossible for three or four persons to do so. All this clcarly indicates that Islam has firmly closed the door in the face of tho.se who seek to raise this thorny issue, because God does not like the spread of indecency among His creatures.  

            Thcrc is a consensus among legists of all the legal schools that whcn fornication is proved in its above-mentioned meaning and manner, the child born of it shall not inherit from the father because no Icgal lineal bond is established between them.  

            But the legists have landed themselves in a legal difficulty by giving the fatwa that an illegitimate issue cannot inherit, and are puzzled in finding a way out of this difficulty: If an illegitimate child is not attributable legally to its male 'parent', then, accordingly, in such a situation, it cannot be impermissible for a man to marry his illegitimate daughter and for an illegitimate son to marry his sister or paternal aunt as long as he is considered a stranger to the male 'parent'.  

            Therefore, an illegitimate son is either a legally recognized issue and thereby entitled to everything to which legally recognized children are entitled, including the right of inheritance and maintenance, or he is not a legally recognized issue and thereby entitled to all those things which are established as regards those who are legally unrelated, including the marriage with a daughter or a sister. To differentiate between the effects of a single undivided cause is to claim something without requisite proof; it amounts to inclining towards something without any reason for doing so. Therefore, we see the legists differ on this question after having concurred earlier (i.e. in excluding him from inheritance). Malik and al-Shafi'; have said: It is permissible (in such a case) for the person to marry his daughter, his sister, his son's daughter, his daughter's daughter, his brother's daughter and his sister's daughter when these relations have been established as a result of fornication. because they are strangers' to him and no legal lineal bond exists between them.  But this manner of solving the problem reminds one of the saying: "The cure is worse than the disease."  

            Imamiyyah legists, Abu Hanlfah and Ibn Hanbal have observed: We ought to differentiate between the two si~uations. We must disqualify the child from inheriting, while at the same time prohibiting matrimonial relationship between the child or its father within the prohibited degrees of relationship. Apart from marriage, to touch and to look at each other is also haram for both of them. Therefore, a father cannot look at or touch his illegitimate daughter despite her inability to inherit from him and his of inheriting from her.

            They argue that the establishment of matrimonial relationship is haram by pointing out that an illegitimate child is after all an offspring, both literally and by general acceptance. Consequently, whatever is haram between fathers and children is also haram for the illegitimate child and its father. Their argument about the child's disqualification from inheriting is based upon the fact that the child is not acknowledged by the Shar;'ah as its father's offspring and this is expressly stated by the verses of the Qur'an and traditions.


    Al-laqit is a child found by a person in a state in which it is incapable of fending for itself, whom he takes and brings it up along with the rest of his family. All the legal schools concur that the laq i t and its guardian do not inherit from each other, because the act of giving shelter to an abandoned child is purely an act of kindness done in the spirit of cooperating in the performance of good and righteous deeds. It resembles the gifting of a fortune to someone

making him prosperous after earlier indigence and distress with the hope of acquiring God's grace. As this act of kindness is no cause for inheritance, similarly the giving of shelter to an abandoned child.

Adoption (al-Tabanni):

    Adoption is the taking by a person of a child of known parentage and attributing it to himself. The Islamic Shar;'ah does not consider adoption as a cause of inheritance, for it does not change the actual fact from what it is; the lineage of the child is both known and established, and lineage can neither be abrogated nor eliminated. This has been clearly mentioned in this verse of the Surat al- 'Ahzab:

. . Neither has He made your adopted sons your sons (in fact). That is your own saying, the words of your mouths; but God speaks the truth, and guides on the way. Call them after their true fathers; that is more equitable in the sight of God.... (33:~, 5)

            The exegetes have mentioned an interesting episode in relation to the revelation of this verse. Zayd ibn Harithah was made captive during the Jahiliyyah and the Prophet (~) bought him. After the advent of Islam Harithah came to Makkah and asked the Prophet (s) to sell his son to him or to free him. The Prophet (s) said: "He is free; he can go wherever he wants." But Zayd refused to leave the Prophet (s ). His father, Harithah, became angry and said: "O people of Quraysh, bear witness that Zayd is not my son." The Prophet (s) then said: "O people of Quraysh, bear witness that Zayd is my son."

The legists have mentioned many other subsidiary issues under this head, and of these are some which are neither acceptable to human reason nor in harmony with the Shar;'ah. One of them is the one quoted by the author of al-Mughni (vol.7, p.439) from Abu Han;fah, who holds: If a man marries a woman in a gathering and

then divorces her in the same gathering before leaving it, or marries her while he is in thc east and she in the west, either way if she gives birth to a child six months after the marriage, the child shall be attributed to the husband.  

            Other opinions are such as whose validity seems questionable from the viewpoint of medical science. The author of al-Mughni, in the same volume and on the same page, says: "If the husband is a child of 10 years and his wife bccomes pregnant, the child shall be attributed to him."  

            Similar is the one quoted by the Sh;'; author of al-Masalik (vol.2, Fasl ahkam al-'awlad): "If penetration occurs without discharge taking place, the child shall be attributed to the husband."

Artificial Insemination:

    A hot debate is going on in thc West regarding the answer to this question: If a barren husband agrees with his wife that she be artificially inseminated with a stranger's sperm, is this legally permissible?  

            This question was raised before the House of Commons in England and a committee of the House was set up to deliberate on the issue. In Italy the Pope declared it illegal. In France, the doctors observed: It is permissible if done by the couple's consent. In Austria, the government recognizes the child as a legitimate issue of the couple unless the husband makes a formal objection.  

            As tc) Islamic legists, I doubt whether they have dealt with this question, since it is a problem of recent origin. The Imamiyyah scholars have narrated a tradition under the head of hudud. Al-Hasan ibn 'Al; ('a) was asked regarding a woman who after intercourse with her husband engages in Lesbian intercourse with a virgin transferring his sperm to her, consequently making the latter pregnant. The Imam ('a) replied: The mahr of the virgin shall be exacted from the marric d woman because the child would not be delivered without the virgin losing her virginity. Then, the other woman shall be stoned to death because of her marital status.

Regarding the pregnant woman, they shall wait until she delivers and the child shall be given to the father, i.e. the person of whose sperm it was born. After this, she shall be llogged.

            Four rules can be deduced from this tradition: (1) stoning of the married woman, (2) liability of the married woman to pay the mahr of the other woman a.s a compensation for her lost virginity, (3) flogging of the other woman, (4) attribution of the child to the person of who.se sperm the child was born.  

            The Imamiyyah legists differ regarding application of this tradition. Of those who have applied this tradition in totality are al-Shaykh al-Tus; and his followers. Others, who accept the last three rules without accepting the first one, include the author of al-Shara'i', who holds the punishment of the married woman to be flogging in.stead of stoning.

            Ibn Idr;s has rejected the tradition totally, objecting to the statement about the stoning of the married woman, because the sentence for Lesbian intercourse is flogging, not stoning. He also objects to the attribution of the child to the person of whose sperm it was born, because it was not born as a result of intercourse through valid marriage or hy mistake. He even objects to the rule which compels the married woman to pay the mahr of the pregnant woman, because, according to him, the woman made pregnant was not coerced, and Lesbian intercourse with consent is similar to fornication, which does not result in liability to pay mahr.  

            This is what I have found in the legal books closely or distantly relating to the question at hand. In any case, we have two questions at hand: (1) Is artificial insemination permissible or not in the Islamic Sham'ah? (2) If, as a result of artificial insemination, a child is born, what shall be its legal status and to whom shall it be attributed?

Artificial Insemination is Prohibited:

    Regarding the first question, there is no doubt that such insemination is prohibited due to following reasons: (1) Our knowledge of the Shar;'ah, and its warning and emphasis concerning

sexual matters, tell us that permissibility of anything in this regard rests upon permission of the Shar;'ah. Therefore, the mere possibility of its being impermissible is sufficient for making restraint and caution obligatory. (2) In the thirty-first verse of Surat al-Nur:

And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts.... ~'24:31 )

God has commanded women that they 'safeguard' their organs of reproduction; but Hc has not mcntioned from what they are supposed to be safeguarded. Neither has He specified that they safeguard them from intercourse or some other thing. The jurisprudents as well as linguists of the Arabic language concur that any proposition devoid of any particular specification implies the generality of inclusion. Similarly the inclusion of a specification in a proposition limits the proposition to that extent. For example, if it is said, "Safeguard your wealth from thieves", it denotes that wealth must be protected only from being robbed. But if it is said, "Safeguard your wealth," without specifying any specific thing, it implies that wealth is to be protected from being robbed, from damage, from waste, etc. Accordingly, the verse of the Qur'an connotes that the organs of reproduction be safeguarded from everything including insemination. This verse is reinforced by verses 5-7 of the Surat al-Mu'minun:

And who guard their private parts. Save from their wives or those whom their right hands own, for then they surely are not blameworthy. But whoever seeks to go beyond that, those are the transgressors. (23 5-- 7)

    The phrase ~    ,~l ,~ indicates that any act contrary to the guarding ot the parts amounts to transgression of the lawful limits, except that which occurs through marriage or ownership. Though the verses speak specifically of men, it does not hinder their application to women, because there is consensus that there is no difference between men and women in rules of this kind.     Some may say that the phrase ,~        does not prove that this kind of insemination is haram. It only indicates the impermissibility of (extra-marital) sexual relations, and this is the meaning that comes to mind and is understood from the verse. In other words, this verse may imply a wider meaning which includes artificial insemination or somelhing else; but that which is apparent from its words is fornication, and it is a known fact that it is the generally understood meanings of dicta that are accepted for deriving the rules of the Shar;'ah, not their literal meaning.  

The answer is that this apparent meaning of the verse is not inherent in it; rather, this meaning has come to be associated with the verse because of its frequent usage in that context (i.e. to mean fornication). This is similar to the use of the word 'water' in Baghdad to mean the water of the Tigris and in Cairo to mean the water of the Nile, but this apparent meaning is of no consequence at all, for it fades on a little amount of reflection. No one can claim that the word 'water' in Baghdad was coined to mean only the water of the Tigris and in Cairo to mean only that of the Nile. Moreover, if artiticial insemination were considered permissible on this ground, so would be the licking of dogs..., because both these notions are far removed trom the meaning which immediately comes to the mind.

The Offspring by Artificial Insemination:

Now a child is born as a result of artificial insemination; shall it be a legitimate child, and to whom shall it be attributed?  

             The answer is: As regards the sterile husband, the child cannot be attributed to him under any circumstances, and adoption is not valid in Islam:

And He has not made those whom you eall yollr sons, your sons [33: 4]

As to the woman who bears it, some legal schools attribute the child to her, because an illegitimate child inherits from its mother and from its relatives through her and they inherit from it.

            Therefore, if an illegitimate child can be attributed to its mother, a child born by artificial insemination is better entitled to be similarly attributed.  

            The Imamiyyah, who do not attribute an illegitimate child to the fornicator or the l'ornicatress, observe: The child born by artificial insemination does not inherit from its father or mother, and neither do they inherit from it. Ayatullah al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Hak;m al-Tabataba'; has differentiated between an illcgitimate child and a child born by insemination. He observes: A child born by insemination shall be attributed to its mother, because there is no valid reason to negate its status, and the grounds which prohibit an illegitimate child from attribution to its mother do not apply here.  

            But as regards the man whose sperm is inseminated, al-Sayyid al-H. ak;m says: The child shall not be attributed to him, because in order for a child to be attributed to a person it requires that he should have had intercourse irrespective of whether he performs it, or is unable to perform it but has his sperm reach her reproductive organ during his el'fort, or is transferred to another woman as a result of Lesbian intercourse as mentioned in the tradition from al-'Imam al-Hasan ('a). Apart from these cases, a child shall not be attributed to the person of whose sperm it was conceived, even if he is the husband.

Whatever the case, artiticial insemination is haram and no Muslim may pronounce it halal. But the impermissibility of artificial insemination does not necessarily imply that the child born of it is an illegitimate issue, for at times intercourse may be prohibited but the child born of it is considered legitimate--as in the case of the person who has intercourse with his wife during her menses or during the fast of Ramadan, in both of which cases it is a prohibited act; but nevertheless the lineal bond between the child and the parents shall be established. Accordingly, if a person has artificial insemination performed despite its impermissibility, the child born shall not be attributable to the husband because it was not born of his sperm, nor shall it be attributable to the man whose sperm was inseminated, because he has not had sexual intercourse, neither by marriage nor by mistake. But the child shall be attributed to its mother because it is hcr actual offspring and her legal child, and every actual offspring iS a l~gally recognized issue unless the opposite is proved.


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