Islam and Assisted Reproductive Medicine

 IVF and Sunni Teachings

Since the first successful IVF procedure in 1978, the Islamic religious community has extensively discussed IVF. Egypt issued the first Sunni fatwa regarding IVF in 1980.

The tenets of this fatwa, which holds today, influence IVF practice in both the Sunni and Shi’a Muslim world:

What is allowed?

IVF with the husband’s sperm.

Artificial insemination as long as the husband’s sperm is used.

Cryo-preservation is allowed, but couples must use the frozen embryos during the marriage;

Selective reduction is allowed if the mother’s health and life are in jeopardy;

Only physicians are allowed to perform IVF treatments and procedures.

NOT allowed:

Third-party donation (male or female). 

You can not adopt a child produced by third-party donation, as the child belongs to the mother;

Posthumous or post-divorce IVF.

All forms of surrogacy

Sperm banks are not allowed.


IVF and Shi’a Muslim Teachings

Though the 1980 Sunni fatwa has generally held sway in the Shi’a world, a 1999 fatwa issued by Iran's Ayatollah Ali Hussein Khamanei allowed third-party donation, although the children thus produced are considered “adopted.” This fatwa opened discussion among Shi’a religious leaders of third-party donation, including such questions as:

Which name does the child take; and Is anonymous donation allowed? 

In addition, the unique Shi’a practice of “muta marriage”—a temporary form of marriage—has allowed men to avoid adultery by marrying the third-party donor, if their first wife gives permission.

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