- Human Cloning from the Viewpoint of Islamic Fiqh and Ethics
Muslims as well as the Catholic Church pay special attention to the institution of family and its divine character. This common stance has led to common concerns in many issues of genetic engineering, including human cloning. As a result, we have witnessed a special sensibility of many Muslim scholars and the Catholic faith regarding cloning, in which both have raised their concerns in many scientific and religious occasions.
The Catholic Church decisively condemns efforts aimed at human cloning, calling it an unethical act that violates human dignity. In their perspective, there is no difference between human reproductive cloning and therapeutic cloning, thus both are to be rejected, because in the latter case, too, an embryo takes shape, which is subsequently destroyed, and this runs opposite to the most basic rights of any human being, namely the right to live. Thus, the Catholic Church demonstrates a certain internal consistency on this issue. However, due to a number of considerations, it had to meet the demands of Catholic believers in the realm of genetic engineering, forcing it to loosen its theoretical rigidity in several cases.1
In its criticism of human cloning, the Catholic Church mostly refers to theological and ethical arguments. The most important reasons are the violation to human dignity, the instrumentalisation of mankind, and the weakening of the role of the family. The Catholic Church’s opposition to human cloning actually is part of its opposition to issues like abortion and euthanasia, and therefore has to be understood within that broader framework.
Muslim scholars (fuqaha), for their part, view human cloning as haram (forbidden by religion), and they list numerous arguments against it. In their [End Page 342] view, human cloning is haram for theological, juridical, ethical, social, psychological and scientific reasons. They see human cloning as a means of weakening religious beliefs, changing God’s creation, violating human dignity, disturbing family life, and bringing heritage and lineage regulations into disarray. Therefore, they hold cloning even for partners living together to be illegitimate, showing unanimity on this ruling. In this regard, Muslim fuqaha and the Catholic faith side with each other and share the same position.
The ban on human cloning has been expressed in several declarations, fatwas and resolutions. Islamic organisations and independent Islamic bodies have repeatedly emphasised its stance on banning cloning. The Mağma‘ al-Bohūs al-Islamyya (Conference of Islamic Discussions) of the Al-Azhar University in Egypt, has issued a fatwa in defiance of human cloning, asking the governments of the world to prevent it in whatever form it might be practised.2 The European Council on proclamation of decree “ and Research” 3 has also called human cloning haram.4 Also, the office of Rabitatu al-‘Alam al-Islamī, based in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, has condemned human cloning as haram and asked for a worldwide law to be drafted against it (Muslim World Leaque in Mecca Mokarrameh on human cloning, available at www.islamonline.net, in Arabic). Furthermore, a seminar held in Morocco in 1997 ended with several recommendations, one of them calling for the “prohibition of human cloning by the transfer of stem cell of body to the nucleus-free ovule” (Abdolrahman Abdollah Avazi  Islamic Approach on Some Contemporary Medical Problems Symposium, volume 2 Cloning, Dar al Beiza, 512, in Arabic).
The final declaration of the Council of Islamic Fiqh clearly reflects this unanimous viewpoint. After a preamble about man’s position in the order of being and Islam’s encouragement to the pursuit of knowledge and scholarship, this declaration asks for a “ban on human cloning by the two above mentioned methods or any other method that leads to the increase of Mankind” (The Journal of “Mağma‘ al-Fiqh al-Islamī” : 421). Finally, the Health Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council have declared their total objection to human cloning, calling it the biggest crime that is irreconcilable with medical ethics (Health Ministers of Persian Gulf Cooperation Council countries: Human Cloning is a Crime, available at www.emi.ae). It is worth adding that the “Mağma‘ al-Bohūs al-Islamyya” of the...