Is infertility treatments such as IVF etc jaiz in Shariah?
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful
The creation of life is an exclusive role of Allah. Allah Most High says:
“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.” (Surah al-Shura: V 49-50)
From the above it is clear that the granting of children is a role that only Allah can perform. Therefore Muslims should turn to Allah and supplicate to Him, as did the Prophets of Allah, to grant them children. Along with the supplications to Allah the individuals may try medical treatments that are in line with Shariah.
There are many treatments available such as Ovulation Induction, Artificial Insemination (AI) and Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).
This approach involves the administration of infertility drugs in order to induce ovulation. Fertility treatment with ovulation induction is helpful for women who have irregular menstrual cycles. This type of medical treatment will be permissible.
Artificial Insemination (AI)
This method of infertility treatment involves the injection of sperm into the female reproductive tract in order to facilitate fertilization. Artificial insemination may also require the use of infertility drugs. The sperm can be either the husbands (AIH) or a donor’s (AID)
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)
These infertility treatments involve the removal and re-implantation of ova from female patients in order to facilitate fertilization. There are several types of ART fertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT), and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI):
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) – This infertility treatment involves the harvesting and fertilization of female ova outside the body and the subsequent placement of the embryos into the uterus.
Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) – This fertility treatment is very similar to IVF, except that the harvested eggs are not fertilized in the laboratory. Instead, the ova and sperm are placed directly into the fallopian tubes, where fertilization will hopefully occur.
Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT) – This infertility solution is similar to both IVF and GIFT. With ZIFT, the egg is fertilized with sperm in the laboratory, forming a zygote, but is not allowed to develop into an embryo. The zygote is then placed in the fallopian tubes.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) – This fertility treatment involves the injection of a single sperm directly into an ovum (mature egg). Then, similar to IVF, the embryo is placed into the uterus.
Before looking at the ruling on the above methods lets have a look at some of the issues that arise while undergoing infertility treatment.
The Prophet (sallal lahu alayhi wa sallam) has stated that, “Modesty is a part of Faith.” (Bukhari).
While undergoing treatment one will be required to uncover the satr. It is stated in Raddul Muhtar that to cover the satr is compulsory even if one is in isolation except in a genuine situation where there is a need to uncover. (Vol 1, P297)
The issue of exposing the satr will take place while having treatment. Another issue is that the sperm will need to be extracted by masturbation which is also not permissible.
However if the situation between the husband and wife and the desire do have children is such that it can be classed as “need”, then the rules regarding satr and masturbation may be relaxed. As necessity makes prohibition lawful (Ashbah Wan Nasair) Therefore for treatment one may expose their satr in front of someone of the same gender. And it can also be argued that in this situation masturbation is not wasting the sperm but rather being used in an effective manner.
If the above is kept in mind then the Shariah ruling to the above treatments is that these methods of medical treatment will only be permissible if only the husband and wife are involved. It is completely unlawful to use a donor’s sperm or eggs. Artificial insemination of other than the husband’s sperm and adultery are both similar in effect; that is, in both cases the impregnation is by a stranger.
Allah Most High says:
“And those who guard their private parts. Except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess, for (in their case) they are free from blame. But those whose desires exceed those limits are transgressors.” (Surah al-Mu’minun: V 5-7)
Ruwayfi ibn Thabit Al Ansari (radi allahu anhu) narrates that the Prophet (Sallal lahu alayhi wa sallam) said on the day of Hunayn: “It is unlawful for a man who believes in Allah and the last day that he waters the plant of another.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, 2151) The meaning of watering the plant of another is to insert one’s sperm into the womb of another person’s wife.
Therefore, all forms of treatment in which a third party is involved are completely unlawful.
In conclusion, one should supplicate to Allah and ask Him to grant them children. At the same time one may resort to having medical treatment ,if the situation can be termed as extreme “need”, by keeping in mind the ruling regarding satr and that there should be no third party involvement in regards to sperm or eggs.
Only Allah knows best.
Darul Ifta, Birmingham