Islam

Just as Jewish and Christian scholars have drawn on accounts of creation in thinking about cloning, so, too, have Muslim scholars. For example, Chapter 23, verses 12-14 in the Qur'an, the Muslim scripture, are frequently cited as relevant to a discussion of cloning. The passage reads: "We created man of an extraction of clay, then We set him, a drop in a safe lodging, then We created of the drop a clot, then We created of the clot a tissue, then We created of the tissue bones, then We covered the bones in flesh; thereafter We produced it as another creature. So blessed be God, the Best of creators!" Supporters of cloning have understood this passage to mean that because humans participate in the act of creation with God, humans may intervene creatively in nature to promote human welfare. Thus, to undertake cloning in an effort to promote human flourishing may be acceptable.

In summarizing the response of Islam to reproductive cloning, it is also important to stress three themes from the Shari'a (Islamic law) that regulate individual and social morality for Muslims. First, Islamic law places a high value on the importance of scientific knowledge. Scientific research reveals the complexity of God's creation and for that reason can be understood as a kind of worship of God. Second, Islamic tradition has emphasized the importance of heterosexual marriage and the family to social and communal good. Third, although the tradition has no definitive position on the moral status of the early embryo, there is a well-known hadith (saying of the Prophet) that an angel comes to breathe spirit into a fetus at six weeks.

With these fundamental commitments supporting Islamic reflections on cloning, a number of positions can and have been developed. Consistent with the Qur'anic emphasis on the pursuit of knowledge, scientific research into reproduction that has led to the possibility of cloning is entirely legitimate. Indeed, some verses of the Qur'an have been interpreted to support the claim that God's will is manifest in so-called artificial reproduction because unless God wills the creation of life, there would be no life. Thus, assuming that the knowledge gained by pursuing cloning would be used to benefit humanity and not instead misused, cloning may be supported.

Nevertheless, there are aspects of cloning that give scholars of Islam pause. For example, the fact that cloning allows for reproduction without heterosexual pairing is problematic, for the Qu'ran is understood to be quite explicit about this: "And of everything We have created pairs that you may be mindful" (51:49). Thus, just as Catholicism is concerned about the threat cloning may pose to the traditional family, so, too, is Islam. Given the importance

Islam places on the notion of a family that is founded upon heterosexual union, cloning has seemed very problematic to some Muslim jurists.

Finally, Islam also shares the concern raised by other religious traditions that cloning will lead to the reduction of children to commodities. Given the emphasis in Islam on the notion of spiritual equality, cloning may be problematic if it leads us to value some humans more highly than others because they have, or are free of, certain genetic traits. If cloning will lead us to place a market value on human beings, it will be opposed by Islam. Moreover, given the tradition that the moral status of the fetus changes approximately six weeks after conception, cloning will be problematic to the degree that it results in a substantial loss of fetal life after this point in gestation.

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