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Human Cloning from Shia Jurisprudential Point of View. Part 2

Human cloning is of the issues that have recently come to the fore. As examining an issue in jurisprudence is impossible before shading light on its all corners, exploring its inner and outer aspects, and defining its good and bad consequences; the religious researchers and scholars have studied human cloning to find out its nature and consequences for presenting the legal decree.

What follows is an interview with Ayatollah Muhammad Ibrahim Jannātī[1]

Q:first of all, let me thank you for your cooperation. As the first question, what is your idea about the jurisprudential ordinance of human cloning and its consequences?

A: human cloning is of the issues that have recently come to the fore.As examining an issue in jurisprudence is impossible before shading light on its all corners, exploring its inner and outer aspects, and defining its good and bad consequences; the religious researchers and scholars have studied human cloning to find out its nature and consequences for presenting the legal decree. This process is not only applied to human cloning, but it is also applicable to all newly-arisen issues we may face in the future.

It must be noted that it is common for scholars, whether in Islam or other religions,to have a difference of opinion over legalizing a newly-arisen issue. Because it is a theoretical issue and such issues are naturally open to dispute. However as time goes on, different aspects of the issue, the deciding factors in issuing a fatwa, become clear, and resulting growth in knowledge and understanding of the issue drops the dissension.

Human cloning, as well as any other newly-arisen issue, is not considered haram except in the case that we find reliable legal evidence against it. After examining the fundamental principles and authentic sources of jurisprudence, including the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) and his infallible successors (a.s) as the first and second main sources, we have not found any cogent reason for prohibiting human cloning. Consequently,we do not consider human cloning haram; however, we cannot ignore that the extensive use of human cloning may bring some social consequences which should be handled to avoid likely problems. Some of the problems are as follow: deficiency in starting a family, lack of family identity, suspension of legal sexual relations, increase in marital difficulties, inheritance complications, social deprivation, etc.;yet all these problems have answers about which we can talk at a better time.

Nevertheless, from my point of view,human cloning is halal for I have not found any authentic legal evidence to prohibit it after exploring jurisprudential sources and the principles of inferring legal rulings. We believe that as we are not allowed to consider a haram act as halal, we also are not allowed to consider a halal act as haram. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) said: “those who forbidden God’s halal are [condemned] just like those who consider God’s haram lawful.”[2]That is because prohibiting something without a legal reason is tashrīʻ[3] (issuing a fatwa that is grounded in something other than authentic legal sources, like personal opinions), and is subject to the116th verse of chapter Naḥl in the Holy Quran which says: “And do not say what your tongues falsely describe ‘This is lawful, and that is forbidden’.”[4]Moreover, in ijtihad-based jurisprudence permitting an act, of any kink, is easier than prohibiting it,because it is more compatible with principles basic to inferring legal rulings.

Q:you said human cloning is allowed, but the consequences must be considered. Some contemporary scholars prohibit human cloning considering the consequences. According to your point of view, can the consequences like the dissolution of lineage and family,social disorder,etc.be used against human cloning?

A:human cloning does not result in the dissolution of lineage and family for if the nucleus belongs to a man the resulting baby would be his child inheriting from him like his other children born in an ordinary way. If the nucleus is for a woman, the resulting baby would be her child inheriting from her like her other children born in an ordinary way. Thus, there would be no dissolution of lineage and family or social disorder.

However, using cells from unknown donors for human cloning would ruin lineage, like when there is a cell bank storing an expansive amount of cells without identifying their donors. I believe that human cloning to a greater extent brings about the consequences which could not be overlooked, but to a limited extent, it will not cause any problem.

Q:those who oppose human cloning point to the reasons like: changing God’s Creation, violating human honor, appearing new jurisprudence, etc. Which one of these reasons, in your view,is more acceptable? And what is the answer?

A:human cloning to a limited extent neither causes a change in the Creation nor attacks the dignity of man. Such misconceptions are not based on legal reasoning, rather they origin in the preconceptions that canalize people’s views;while the valuable view in the jurisprudence is that origins in legal reasoning. Of course,human cloning leads the jurists to have new readings of legal sources regarding the issue, but the diversity of opinions in theoretical matters is natural and is not exclusive to human cloning. Because dealing with human cloning and other newborn issues in Islamic society as per Islamic jurisprudence, requires new readings of legal sources.The sciences like medicine, chemistry, physics, mathematics and so on, which deal with different aspects of our life, are like incubators of new matters,and jurists are responsible for the jurisprudential aspect of these matters.Jurists should present their views after obtaining comprehensive information from the experts,and any negligence would inflict irreparable damage on them.

I believe that if a mujtahid is fully qualified of ijtihad, and is well-informed about the principles and methods of inferring rulings from legal sources,time and place conditions, convention, humans, and community needs; he can develop jurisprudence in line with modern life, new phenomena, and newly-arisen issues.Such mujtahid can provide proper answers for all kinds of questions practicing ijtihad, which God has made as a driving force for jurisprudence. However, the present way, through which the questions are answered over and over in limited scope and at a personal level, does not work for the modern phenomena and newly-arisen issues, especially the problems that the Islamic system is facing in the wider rang eat the state level.

I wish the experts would take full advantage of the present freedom to offer their readings and new views regarding newly-arisen issues using the sources and principles of ijtihad (the valid method for inferring rulings from legal sources), and provide proper answers for the changes and new matters that Islamic society is facing.

Q:is the therapeutic cloning, meaning making an organ and transplanting it into other people, allowed?

A:it is allowed, even much appreciated. But in the case of cloning a whole person, we are not allowed to transplant his organs into another person, because he is a human entitled to all human rights.

Q: scientifically there is no difference between therapeutic cloning and human [reproductive] cloning for both employ the same method. The main difference is in the aim, meaning that in therapeutic cloning the embryo is destroyed after the process and taking the stem cells;while in human cloning the embryo is preserved for delivery. The question is that, is not destroying an embryo that has the potential for developing into human being equivalent to murder? Is not it subject to the narrations that forbid destroying afertilized ovum[5]?

A:if something prevents the egg from becoming an embryo in therapeutic cloning, then evidently there would be no any embryo to be murdered. But, if the egg turns into an embryo in the cloning process, then there is no difference between therapeutic and other types of cloning.As a general rule,the ordinance is always dependent upon the title [meaning that if it is called embryo then destroying it is haram] and aim of an action does not change its fatwa.

Q:Sunni scholars,more or less, have a consensus on prohibiting human cloning; while opinion is divided over prohibiting it among Shia scholars.What do you think about this difference, which one is justified, the consensus or the dissension?

A: among Sunni scholars, consensus, qua consensus, is regarded as an aim and an independent source for deriving jurisprudential rules, but from Shia point of view consensus is only a mean, not an aim; and it is valuable only when discovers the infallibles’ (a.s) judgment.Nevertheless, the above-mentioned consensus is not only in authentic for Shias, but it is also devoid of worth among Sunnis for lack of full unanimity even between Sunni scholars. In addition, it is an evidence-based consensus[6](meaning the consensus on an issue with known and currently available legal evidence, and it is likely that the consensus origins in that evidence, so we can refer to and evaluate that evidence to achieve the legal ruling instead of resorting to the consensus.)which is not reliable, because the real proof is that evidence,provided it be authentic.

Q:can we classify Shia scholars’ opinions about human cloning under some views?

A: there are three viewpoints on human cloning: it is absolutely permitted, it is absolutely prohibited,and it is permitted as far as does not amount to damaging results.

Q: what about cloning the dead, if possible? Is it permitted to clone dead great scholars and political elites?

A: it per se is permitted.

Q:what relation is the cloned to the donor?Are they twin siblings, or a parent and the child? What relation is the cloned to the woman whose uterus is used for cloning?Is she also his/her mother?

A: regarding the first question, the cloned is the donor’s child. Concerning the second question, his/her mother is the owner of the egg, and the surrogate is counted as his/her foster mother.

Q: is it necessary for the man and woman whose sperm and egg are used for cloning to be religiously married to each other?

A: it is not necessary, but haram (unlawful) looks must be avoided; however if they do so, they have committed a sin, but religiously it does not call into question the resulted cloning.

Q:is it allowed to inject the dead or ex-husband’s fertilized cell to his wife before the idda (the period during which a divorced or widow woman may not be married to another man) comes to end?If it is allowed, does the cloned person inherit from them?

A: it is allowed, for it is not regarded as sexual intercourse. The cloned person inherits from the mother but inheriting from the cell donor subjects to more deliberation.

Q:what about when the cell is taken from another woman? Does the resulting baby have two mothers?

A:the cell donor is the baby’s mother, and the surrogate is counted as his foster mother.

Q: what about marring the cloned person with the donor’s children? Is it lawful?

A: it is not permitted because they are siblings.

Q: is the cloned permitted to marry with the surrogate?

A: it is not permitted because she is his foster mother.

Q: what about the inheritance? Do the cloned and the cell donor inherit from each other?

A: yes,if the cell donor is a woman then they inherit from each other like a mother and her child. If the cell donor is a man then they inherit from each other like a father and his child.

Q: is the cloned person’s Islam accepted, just like an ordinary-born person?

A: yes, his/her Islam is accepted, just like an ordinary-born person.

Q:is there any difference between him/her and other Muslims?

A: there is no any difference.He/she is honored and should enjoy all the rights that other Muslims have in their personal, ritual, scientific, cultural, economic, and social life.

Q:is his/her killer, like the killer of other Muslims, doomed to retaliation [death]?

A: yes,the killer is doomed to retaliation.

Q: does he/she have the right to blood money in the cases that other Muslims have?

A: yes,he/she has.


[1]– Ayatollah Jannātī was born in Shāhrūd in 1932. At 11 he entered the religious seminary of Shāhrūd where he finished preliminary levels as well as part of the graduate level (known as Saṭḥ) within four years. He was in his 18 when he finished the higher levels of Jurisprudence and Usūl (the methodology of jurisprudence) whereupon he migrated to Mashhad and benefited profusely from teachers of the city’s religious Seminary. After sometimes, He traveled to Qom where he attended Khārij lectures on Jurisprudence and Usūl given, respectively by Ayatollah Brūjirdī and Ayatollah Khomeini. Then he traveled to the holy city of Najaf where he stayed for 25 years, during which he benefited from many prominent scholars such as Ayatollah Shāhrūdī, Ayatollah Ḥakīm, Ayatollah Shīrāzī, Ayatollah Hillī, Ayatollah Zanjānī, and Ayatollah Khu᾽ī. On his return to Qom in 1979, he continued teaching, compiling books, and writing scientific articles. He is the first scientific figure who has taught Jurisprudence, Usūl, Hadith and Quran sciences in a comparative manner from the viewpoint of 22 religions (Imāmiyah, Ḥanafiyah, Mālikiyah, Shāfiʻiyah, Ḥanbaliyah, Zeidiyah, Ibāziyah, Zāhiriyah, Uzāʻiyah, Thawriyah, Laythiyah, Rāhuwiyah, Nakhaʻiyah, Tamīmiyah, Ṭabariyah, Jubayriyah, Kalbiyah, Shobramiyah, IbnAbiLeylah, Zuhariyah, ʻUyayniyah, and Jurayḥiyah). (http://www.jannaati.com/eng/?page=1)

[2]– المُحرّم حلال الله كالمُحلّل حرام الله.

[3]– تشریع.

[4]– ولا تقولوا لما تَصِفُ السنتكم الكذب هذا حلال و هذا حرام. (نحل/116)

[5]– نطفۀ مستقر.

[6]– اجماع المدرکی.

About Ali Teymoori

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