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Frozen Embryos

Another by-product of the new technology is the so-called sperm bank where sperms and fertilized ovum are preserved in frozen state. There are four questions which must be addressed here.

Firstly: Is man allowed to preserve his sperms in frozen state? Similarly, are a married couple allowed to preserve their fertilized ova for future use? I can think of no shari'ah basis for prohibiting such an act. It is no different from the act in which a person banks or donates his blood.

Secondly: Is it permissible to sell the sperms or the fertilized ova? One cannot sell his sperms to be injected into the uterus of another woman; he may only sell it to a scientific institution for medical research. Similarly, a couple cannot sell their fertilized ova to be implanted into the womb of another woman.

Thirdly: Can a woman use the preserved fertilized ovum or sperms of her husband after the latter has died? Apparently, there is nothing to prevent her from doing so. The frozen ovum (fertilized by her husband's sperm) is her property and therefore she can use it. The child will, of course, be legitimate! However, this would be allowed only if the woman does not marry another person after her husband's death. Since Islam does not allow a woman to have more than one husband at a time, the second husband will take the place of the first in the verse which says, "The believers are ... those who protect their private parts except from their spouses." (23:5)

Fourthly: Can a woman use the fertilized ovum after she has been divorced from her husband? This is allowed only if she has not married another person. As soon as she marries another person, she cannot use the fertilized ovum or sperm of her previous husband. The basis of this view is same as mentioned above.

Adapted from: "Marriage & Morals in Islam" by: "Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi"

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