Surrogate Motherhood: Permissible?

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Category: News - Fatwa
Thursday, December 12 2013
Last Updated on Friday, December 13 2013 10:25
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Wa `alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

 All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Brother, thank you for your question.

Surrogate motherhood is not Islamically allowed for many significant reasons. For instance, it involves a third party into the marital relationship and destroys the real meaning of motherhood.

Responding to your question, Dr. Wael Shihab, PhD in Islamic Studies, Al-Azhar University, and the Head of the Shari`ah Dept. of Onislam.net website, stated,

Thank you for your question.

In fact, I didn’t read the article you referred to in your question.

However, I believe that the two types of surrogate motherhood (traditional and gestational surrogacy) are in conflict with Shari`ah and its objectives. In the traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother is artificially inseminated with sperm from the father or with sperm from a donor, if the father is infertile. This is in clear conflict with the Qur’anic ayat (verses) that commands protection of honor and lineage. In gestational surrogacy, sperm is taken from the father (or from a donor) and the egg is taken from the mother, fertilization happens in vitro, and the embryos are then implanted into the surrogate mother's uterus. This type of surrogacy does clearly contradict the Shari`ah-based instructions to keep the identity of the lineage and protect people's honor.

Surrogate motherhood—in whatever type or form—is prohibited for the following:

1. Confusion of lineage and the identity of the child: The child, born out of surrogate motherhood, will have two mothers, i.e., one who gives the ovum and the other who bears the pregnancy and gives birth to the child. In addition to such confusion of the lineage of the child, fights between the two mothers over the custody of the child are possible. As protection of lineage is one of the essential objectives of Shari`ah, surrogate motherhood cannot be justified under any pretext.

2. Destruction of the real meaning of motherhood: By means of legalizing surrogate motherhood, the true meaning of motherhood will be destructed. Motherhood, in surrogate cases, will be turned into business and financial dealings. Money will be the main factor in bearing children. Merits and virtue of true motherhood, by which mothers have deserved unique position and esteem in Islam, will perish.

3. Involving a third party into the marital relationship: Surrogate motherhood as described above is not allowed, since it involves introducing the sperm of a male into the uterus of a woman to whom he is not married and, thus, it clearly falls under the specific category of transgressing the bounds of Allah as stated in the Qur’an: {Those who guard their private parts except from their spouses} (Al-Mu'minun 23: 5), and {Whosoever goes beyond that are indeed transgressors} (Al-Mu'minun 23: 7).

4. Dehumanizing the process of human procreation: Allah Almighty has honored man and preferred him over other creatures. Allah says in the Qur’an, {Verily We (Almighty Allah) have honored the children of Adam} (Al-Isra' 17: 70). The entire procedure of surrogate motherhood does really amount to dehumanizing the process of human procreation by reducing womb down to the level of a commodity that can be bought or rented for service. Human procreation should be restricted to the legal honorable marriage, which is described be Allah as a sacred, faithful bond: {O you who believe! It is not lawful for you to forcibly inherit the women (of your deceased kinsmen), nor (that) you should put constraint upon them that you may take away a part of that which you have given them, unless they be guilty of flagrant lewdness. But consort with them in kindness, for if you hate them it may happen that you hate a thing wherein Allah has placed much good. And if you wish to exchange one wife for another and you have given unto one of them a sum of money (however great), take nothing from it. Would you take it by the way of calumny and open wrong? How can you take it (back) after one of you has gone in unto the other, and they have taken a strong pledge from you?} (An-Nisa' 4: 19-21).

5. Uncovering the `awrah (private parts) without necessity: The process of surrogate motherhood involves uncovering the `awrah without necessity. People's `awrah should not be uncovered except for a medical necessity that justifies it. Allah says in the Qur’an: {Tell the believing men to lower their gazes (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts).} (An-Nur 24: 30) What is meant is to protect them by covering them so that no one will see the `awrah of another without necessity.

Given the above, the concept surrogate motherhood is not allowed in Islam under any pretext.

May Allah accept your and our good deeds!

Allah Almighty knows best.