India’s most influential Muslim seminary, the 141-year-old Dar-ul-Uloom in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh, has issued a fatwa (edict) forbidding Muslim women from conceiving through artificial means. This effectively means that modern medical techniques like in-vitro fertilisation, surrogate motherhood and artificial insemination are not allowed, according to the seminary.
“It is not right to masturbate in order to get children by artificial insemination…,” said the fatwa. One of the concerns is that women would have to disrobe in front of male doctors for the procedure to be carried out.
Mufti Imran, a high-ranking Dar-ul-Uloom official, said: “A woman whose husband is not able to give children is not permitted to use any other means. The fatwa also bans infertile women from allowing others to bear their babies.”
The fatwa has raised a storm of controversy within the community. While it has found support in some sections, several maulanas themselves as well as doctors and prominent personalities have opposed it.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) member Khalid Rashid was among those who supported the edict. “A child should be created naturally,” he said. “If Allah has not given a child, He has not given the right to get one through artificial means either.” All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board president Shaista Ambar vehemently disagreed: “If the procedure is carried out by a lady doctor, there should be no problem.”
Social activist Zakia Jowher said: “I fail to understand why people rush to Deoband to find solution to their medical problems. If a couple can’t have a child, it’s best to go to a doctor to find a solution. Such edicts have no influence among the progressive members of the community.” Doctors have termed the fatwa a throwback to the medieval era.