Mariam asked me to do a post on surrogacy and IVF in Islam and this topic was on my to-write list because exactly a year ago someone asked me about egg donation and if I thought it was allowed in Islam. This is what I wrote in my reply:
You will not find anything in the Quran and hadith about it simply because IVF didn’t exist back then. Therefore whatever interpretation anyone gives you is just that – their interpretation. In that way no one can tell you with certainty whether it is haram or halal. Let me give you some background:
In the time when Quran was written, if a woman couldn’t bear children the husband was allowed to marry again. We should note that just before his death, the Prophet had almost a dozen wives/slaves and only one of them had managed to conceive a child (Ibrahim who died in infancy). Yet, his wives neither adopted children (as such an adopted child is not given the same status as a biological child under Islam) nor were they given the option to adopt and raise the Prophet’s son Ibrahim who was born to a Coptic slave, Mary. This disturbed Aisha a lot who wanted children desperately and eventually she was given the title of Umm al Momeneen because she desperately wanted a kunya for herself (be called umm of someone). The Prophet also allowed her to use the kunya of her nephew. Thus, anonymous or known adoption as well as raising the husband’s child with another woman were both options that could have been available to Aisha, but she wasn’t given them.
Second, I personally analyse how a situation would be dealt with by all Abrahamic religions. If all three religions agree on something then I personally believe I have greater proof that it is allowed or not allowed. In Islam paternity status of a child is more important than the maternity. This is because in those days a child’s mother was known in every single case, but paternity was hard to define. It could be any man’s child. However, in today’s age with anonymous egg donation, even finding the mother is difficult. But the same ruling can be applied – that a child MUST know both the father and the mother since the biological mother has the same rights as the surrogate mother under all Abrahamic religions.
In Islam it doesn’t matter whether the child is born to a wife or a concubine since the child carries the father’s name and lineage. But that wife or concubine – in all three Abrahamic religions – must *belong* to the man. That he, the man should have full access and authority over her body, including the womb and the eggs. In Judaism and Islam a man can have a child from a concubine (indeed the Prophet had Ibrahim from Mary the slave whom he didn’t marry and Abraham had Ishmael from Hagar whom he never married), but in Christianity a child should only be the result of marriage between two persons. So according to Christianity anonymous egg donations is out-rightly wrong. But according to Islam and Judaism, it could be allowed even if the man and the egg donor weren’t married for the child to be carried and raised by the wife only if the egg donor was a slave! That is theoretically possible but practically impossible. Thus, the result of this is that a man can buy an egg to impregnate his wife (and the wife can carry and raise the child), but the egg donor and the man have to be religiously married (not necessarily legally married).
Thus, in the light of all Abrahamic religions, an anonymous donor egg and known sperm creates a child outside the boundaries of marriage making the child illegitimate with no certain lineage creating the chances of negative future consequences. Thus, from my study, anonymous donation is completely banned.
But even in known egg donation the man and the donor have to be religiously married. In that case, there are scholars who allow surrogation so that for example a woman would be allowed to carry, give birth and raise a child who is the result of either:
• Sperm and egg of a married couple – a relative
• Or the sperm of the husband and the egg of his second wife.
This second wife could be temporary since at one time mutah was allowed to all Muslim men who wanted sex while fighting wars and didn’t have access to their wives, and even had sex with war captives, and today misyar marriage is allowed by Sunni Islam in Saudi Arabia where a man owes no material or moral support to a woman apart from regular sex. I should add that Shia Islam allows egg donation from a known donor who does not have to be married to the man.
Having said all this, I don’t think anything is black and white in any religion. Not even in Islam. There are shades of grey. And Islam has been through 1400 years of interpretation and misinterpretation. I don’t think that when you read a hundred times that God is merciful that He can act mercilessly and condemn people to hardships when they don’t understand the shades of grey. If your heart tells you that you are not doing anything that is morally wrong then it doesn’t matter how you see the shades of grey.
If a woman is unable to have a baby, a Muslim husband will be encouraged to marry again and indeed has the choice to marry again. But if a man has a reproductive problem, would the wife be encouraged similarly to leave him and marry again? Why are there two popular options for women: to have patience or to adopt? What do you think about surrogacy and egg donation in Islam (especially Sunni Islam)? Should a couple be allowed to buy a donated egg and have a child through IVF? Also, do you think a couple should be allowed to opt for surrogacy in case of an incompetent uterus of the wife or other problems?