Foundations of the Consensus against Surrogacy Arrangements in Islamic Law

in Islamic Law and Society
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This essay traces the emergence and development of the consensus against surrogacy arrangements, mostly in the Sunni world, on the basis of a number of institutional fatwas, recommendations, and decisions. Despite this consensus against surrogacy, jurists discuss in detail its potential effects if it is performed. This juristic attitude reflects an understanding of sharīʿah as a legal system that not only institutes rules for cases that match its moral vision but also regulates the consequences of cases that do not match that vision. In the absence of clear and binding legislation on surrogacy in most Muslim-majority countries, this body of religious and ethical deliberations represents the main resource for moral decision-making on surrogacy and its impact on the genealogical connections within the nuclear family.




Luigi Mastroianni, “Reproductive Technologies: I. Introduction,” Encyclopedia of Bioethics, 5 vols. ed. Stephen Porter (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2004), 4: 2261.


Lucy Frith, “Reproductive Technologies,” The Concise Encyclopedia of the Ethics of New Technologies, ed. Ruth Chadwick (New York: Academic Press, 2001), 351–62.


Brian H. Bix, Family Law (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 100; Amy M. Larkey, “Redefining Motherhood: Determining Legal Maternity in Gestational Surrogacy Arrangements,” Drake Law Review 51 (2002–2003): 606.


Ian McCallister, “Modern Reproductive Technology and the Law: Surrogacy Contracts in the United States and England,” Suffolk Transnational Law Review 20 (1996–1997): 304; Nelson et al, “Reproductive Technologies,” 4: 2291.


McCallister, “Modern Reproductive Technology,” 308–9. McCallister notes that “prohibition may be achieved by several means and motivated by a number of concerns, but it operates to prevent surrogacy arrangements. In facilitation, or a private ordering approach, the government acts to enforce the agreements made by freely consenting parties. Under a regulatory scheme, the state would enforce surrogacy contracts that meet ordered criteria. The static approach provides no legislative input but allows the courts to address questions regarding custody and enforceability of contracts. The United States has followed the static approach at the Federal level, while the states range from a static approach to outright prohibition.” The California Supreme Court ruled in 1993 in a gestational surrogacy case that the intended parents were the legal parents. The State of Illinois has enacted the Gestational Surrogacy Act in 2005 to regulate gestational surrogacy agreements, which provides that a child born through IVF becomes the legal child of the intended parents. In most cases, however, the surrogate is considered the legal mother (by birth) while the intended mother has to legally adopt the child, see Bix, Family Law, 102; Kayhan P. Parsi, “Reproduction, Law, Regulation of Reproductive Technologies,” in Encyclopedia of Ethical, Legal and Policy Issues in Biotechnology, 2 vols. ed. Thomas H. Murrary Thomas H. Murray, and Maxwell J. Mehlmanand (New York: Wiley, 2000), 2:988–6; cf. Elizabeth S. Scott, “Surrogacy and the Politics of Commodification,” Law and Contemporary Problems 72 (2009): 109–46.


Darra L. Hofman, “‘Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe:’ A State-by-State Survey of Surrogacy Laws and their Disparate Gender Impact,” William Mitchell Law Review 35:2 (2009): 449–468.


McCallister, “Modern Reproductive Technology,” 311.


McCallister, “Modern Reproductive Technology,” 312–3.


G. I. Serour, “Bioethics in Artificial Reproduction in the Muslim World,” Bioethics 7:2–3 (1993): 214–5.


Leroy Walters, “Human in Vitro Fertilization: A Review of the Ethical Literature,” The Hastings Center Report 9:4 (1979): 23–34; John A. Robertson, “Surrogate Mothers: Not So Novel after All,”The Hastings Center Report 13:5 (1983): 28–34; Ruth Macklin, “Artificial Means of Reproduction and Our Understanding of the Family,” The Hastings Center Report 21:1 (1991): 5–11; Mastroianni, “Reproductive Technologies,” 4: 2264–6; see also Thomas Eich, “Decision-Making Processes among Contemporary Ulama, Islamic Embryology and the Discussion of Frozen Embryos,” in Muslim Medical Ethics From Theory to Practice, eds. Jonathan Brockopp and Thomas Eich (Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 2008), 61–75.


Morgan Clarke, “Islam, Kinship, and New Reproductive Technology,” Anthropology Today 22:5 (2006):17–20; Marcia Inhorn, “Making Muslim Babies: IVF and Gamete Donation in Sunni versus Shiʿī Islam,” Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 30 (2006): 431; Bagher Larijani and Farzaneh Zahedi, “Ethical and Religious Aspects of Gamete and Embryo Donation and Legislation in Iran,” Journal of Religion and Health 46:3 (2007): 403; Soraya Tremayne and Marcia Inhorn, Islam and Assisted Reproductive Technologies, Sunni and Shia Perspectives, introduction, 1–21.


K. Aramesh, “Iran’s Experience with Surrogate Motherhood: An Islamic View and Ethical Concerns,” Journal of Medical Ethics 35 (2009): 321; Abbasi-Shavazi et al, “The ‘Iranian ART Revolution’: Infertility, Assisted Reproductive Technology,” 3, where the authors note that Iran is ”the only Muslim country in which IVF using donor gametes, embryos, and surrogates has been legitimized by religious authorities and passed into law.”


P. C. Steptoe and R. G. Edwards, “Birth after the Reimplantation of a Human Embryo,” Lancet (1978): 366.


Maḥmūd Shaltūt, al-Fatāwá: Dirāsah li-Mushkilāt al-Muslim al-Muʿāṣir fī Ḥayātih al-Yawmiyyah al-ʿĀmmah (Cairo: Dār al-Shurūq, 2004), 279–82.


Shaltūt, al-Fatāwá, 279.


al-Jindī, al-Injāb fī ḍawʾ al-Islām, 188–236.


al-Jindī, al-Injāb fī ḍawʾ al-Islām, 188–236.


al-Jindī, al-Injāb fī ḍawʾ al-Islām, 193–200.


al-Jindī, al-Injāb fī ḍawʾ al-Islām, 211, 223, 227, 231.


al-Jindī, al-Injāb fī ḍawʾ al-Islām, 221; cf. Muḥammad ʿAlī al-Bārr, “al-Talqīḥ al-Ṣināʿī wa-Aṭfāl al-Anābīb,” Majallat Majmaʿ al-Fiqh al-Islāmī 2:1 (1986): 283.


al-Jindī, al-Injāb fī Ḍawʾ al-Islām, 212, 224–6.


al-Jindī, al-Injāb fī Ḍawʾ al-Islām, 201.


al-Jindī, al-Injāb fī Ḍawʾ al-Islām, 232.


al-Jindī, al-Injāb fī Ḍawʾ al-Islām, 219; Fatāwá Muṣṭfá al-Zarqā, ed. Majd Aḥmad Mikkī (Damascus: Dār al-Qalam, 2010), 302; al-Fatāwá al-Islāmiyyah min Dār al-Iftāʾ,9:3213. Although it is not stated clearly who should receive this punishment, the context suggests that such punishment would apply to all parties involved: the physician performing the procedure; the women involved; and also the husband, if the procedure was performed with his consent.


al-Jindī, al-Injāb fī Ḍawʾ al-Islām, 219; see also Fatāwá Muṣṭfá al-Zarqā, 305.


al-Jindī, al-Injāb fī Ḍawʾ al-Islām, 220–1.


al-Jindī, al-Injāb fī Ḍawʾ al-Islām, 220–1.


al-Jindī, al-Injāb fī Ḍawʾ al-Islām, 228.


al-Jindī, al-Injāb fī Ḍawʾ al-Islām, 230.


al-Bassām, “Aṭfāl al-Anābīb,” 254.


Ibid., 269, 290, 296–8.


al-Bassām, “Aṭfāl al-Anābīb,” 243, 371.


al-Bassām, “Aṭfāl al-Anābīb,” 249, al-Bārr, “al-Talqīḥ al-Ṣināʿī wa-Aṭfāl al-Anābīb,”289. Some participants compared these experiments to the pre-Islamic marriage, called nikāḥ al-istibḍāʿ, in which a husband allows his wife to become pregnant through intercourse with another man in an attempt to ensure certain desirable characteristics in the anticipated child.


al-Bārr, “al-Talqīḥ al-Ṣināʿī wa-Aṭfāl al-Anābīb,” 278–82; Majallat Majmaʿ al-Fiqh al-Islāmī 3:1 (1987): 475.


al-Bārr, “al-Talqīḥ al-Ṣināʿī wa-Aṭfāl al-Anābīb,” 278–82; Majallat Majmaʿ al-Fiqh al-Islāmī 3:1 (1987): 475.


Abū Zahrah, Uṣūl al-Fiqh, 65.


Ibrāhīm et al, Aḥkām al-Aḥwāl al-Shakhṣiyyah, 613.


Sunbāṭī, Bunūk al-Nuṭaf wa’l-Ajinnah, 263.


Banu az-Zubair M. Kabir, “Who is a parent? Parenthood in Islamic Ethics,” Journal of Medical Ethics 33 (2007): 605–9.


ʿĀrif, “al-Umm al-Badīlah,” 835, 840; Buruqʿah, al-Nasab, 442; ʿUthmān, al-Māddah al-Wirāthiyyah, 286, 299–301. ʿUthmān adds that if the surrogate mother is not married, the child is attached to the genetic father, but if she is married, the legal father is determined on the basis of DNA testing.


al-Muḥammadī, Aḥkām al-Nasab fī al-Sharīʿah al-Islāmiyyah, 230.


Buruqʿah, al-Nasab, 432.


Ibrāhīm et al, Aḥkām al-Aḥwāl al-Shakhṣiyyah, 607–8, 627; Āl Maḥmūd, “al-Ḥukm al-Iqnāʿī ...,” 320–1.


Ibrāhīm et al, Aḥkām al-Aḥwāl al-Shakhṣiyyah, 607–8, 626–7; Āl Maḥmūd, “al-Ḥukm al-Iqnāʿī,” 320–1,


Mahrān, al-Aḥkām al-Sharʿiyyah wa’l-Qānūniyyah li’l-Tadakhkhul fī ʿAwāmil al-Wirāthah wa’l-Takāthur, 600–4.


al-Bārr, “al-Talqīḥ al-Ṣināʿī wa Aṭfāl al-Anābīb,” 285.


ʿĀrif, “al-Umm al-Badīlah,” 830–40.


Ibrāhīm et al, Aḥkām al-Aḥwāl al-Shakhṣiyyah, 629; ʿUthmān, al-Māddah al-Wirāthiyyah, 268, 273.


ʿĀrif, “al-Umm al-Badīlah,” 821.


Naef, “Gestational Surrogacy in Iran, Uterine Kinship in Shia Thought and Practice,” 464.


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