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Question: What is the Islamic ruling regarding in-vitro fertilization? We have not been able to conceive a child for the last years and neither of us have a serious medical condition.

It is permissible for your wife to resort to in-vitro fertilization to conceive a child-- provided the sperm and egg involved in the process have been extracted from both of you while you are still married and alive, and not from a third party.

To desire to have an offspring is a genuine human instinct. Islam is a natural religion which takes in to account all of the legitimate human instincts, and therefore it considers the desire to have a righteous offspring as a commendable one. The Qur’an tells us that the Messengers of Allah, who are the true role models of humanity, desired for the gift of righteous offspring and prayed to Him for the same. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, also taught us to pray to Allah thus, “O Allah! I ask of You to grant me the best of what You grant Your righteous servants: blessed offspring and wealth.”

It is no wonder then that Islam considers procreation as one of the stated objectives of marriage in Islam if, when and where possible. It is therefore lawful on your part as married couple to resort to all lawful treatments and therapies which may facilitate this. In-vitro fertilization is one of such methods; scholars who have deliberated on such issues, have ruled that resorting to it for conception is permissible so long it is done within the permissible boundaries.

The strict stipulations for the permissibility of in-vitro fertilization include the following: Both the sperm and egg involved in the procedure must be extracted from married couple solely for themselves. In other words, it is not permissible if, for instance, either the sperm or egg is taken from a third party or from them for the benefit of a third party, for both these procedures entail the grave sin of mixing the lineage and tampering with it, which is considered as akin to adultery. Likewise, it is forbidden if both the sperm and egg were taken from couple who were married once, but were divorced at the time of extraction and conception. The last case also involves procreation out of wedlock.

Therefore, as long as the above safeguards are taken, there is nothing unlawful about using the method of in-vitro fertilization in order to conceive a child. This has been the standard ruling adopted by various Fiqh councils in the modern world. Scholars have arrived at such a decision following due considerations of the evidences of the Shari’ah in this respect.

For further details, you are advised to refer to answer to question (#99) on this site.

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