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Subject : Islamic Ruling on Freezing Embryos

Fatwa Number : 675

Date : 27-04-2010

Classified : Medicine & seeking treatment

Fatwa Type : Search Fatawaa

Question :

What is the ruling of Sharia on freezing embryos?

The Answer :

All perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.


Having reviewed the latest findings of medical research and Islamic jurisprudence in this regard, I would like to mention that when jurists discussed the issue of test-tube babies, some of them have opposed it for reasons; some of which are:

1- Frequent uncovering of a woman`s anterior and posterior pudenda for a reason upon which her life isn`t really dependant.

2- Extracting man`s sperm using unlawful methods while the lawful method in Islam is having lawful sexual intercourse with one`s wife. Allah the Almighty Says {what means}: "Who abstain from sex, 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;-" {Al-Mu`minun, 5-7}.

3- Fearing the mixing of lineages during the fertilization process where errors are likely to occur and could even be driven by corruption. The latter phenomenon has invaded almost all countries, so they created anti-corruption bodies to address it. It is feared that the husband`s sperm or the wife`s egg could be replaced at the request of one of them or the doctor`s desire to show his ability to treat infertility to make a name for himself. 

Nevertheless, the majority of the jurists have acknowledged the test-tube babies considering man`s desire to have children, which is close to his desire to live, and preserving life is one of the five necessities. In addition, it is feared that spouses could conduct this procedure in non-Muslim states where the rules of Sharia aren`t taken into consideration. However, jurists who permitted this procedure have stipulated taking strict precautions to prevent mixing of lineages and avoiding any violations Sharia as much as possible. This is in light of the Sharia maxim, "Necessity must be assessed and answered proportionately."

As for the preservation of fertilized eggs, it has several purposes:

1- Injecting the fertilized egg into the mother`s womb for a second time in case the first attempt failed, at least a month following the first attempt.

2- Injecting the fertilized egg into the mother`s womb for a second pregnancy, at least two years following the first successful pregnancy.

3- Donating or selling the fertilized egg to another woman, which is the case in some countries.

4- Using the fertilized eggs in conducting medical experiments.

Obviously, the third purpose is impermissible since it leads to mixing of lineages. The fourth is also impermissible since it doesn`t befit man-whom Allah Has Honored-to be treated as a test subject, in addition to the fact that the fertilized egg is the beginning of man`s creation.

As for the first and second purpose, they are under consideration:

Undoubtedly, preserving the fertilized eggs for a month and more could lead to mixing of lineage, be it intentional or unintentional. Although the test-tube babies procedure was permitted for a necessity, necessity itself must be assessed and answered proportionately, and this, in fact, isn`t a necessity. Therefore, the Islamic Fiqh Academy has issued a resolution prohibiting the freezing of eggs. Not only that, but also there is no sin when the unneeded eggs that remain after conducting this procedure {Test-tube babies} go down and perish. 

Surveys and researches that have been done in this field indicate that the mixing of lineages may happen easily in embryos banks. Rather, it happens frequently because this is a business transaction for some people who fear not Allah. Thus, this matter must be handled cautiously and with diligence since man`s lineage is as important as his life, and this is how Allah The Almighty differentiated man from beast.

In conclusion, I opt for prohibiting the freezing of embryos, even if it led to causing pain to the mother who is trying to get pregnant again. And Allah The Almighty Knows Best, and He is the One Whose Help is sought.  




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