The Fetus Rights in Islam

By Dr. Nazmy Khalil Abou El Atta

Translated by Marwa Hassan 

Revised By Magdy Abd Al-Shafy

Calls for human rights resound in the whole world with a serious and false accusation that Islam comes to violate such rights. In a matter of fact, this is entirely repudiated by Islam and Muslims as well. Accordingly, we believe that it is our duty, as Muslims, to defend ourselves and our Islam by illustrating few established facts in our true religion to show how Islam preserve rights, whether these rights relating to living organisms or non-living things as Islam consider both divine . We will illustrate this by means of evidence and we will start by figuring out what rights Islam provided for the fetus.

1-   The right of having known and contracted lineage:

One of the simplest fetus rights is to have one known lineage. Islam put some regulations and restrictions to the sexual relationships and bound it to marriage. Further, marriage is legislated by Islam and it was stated as the only way for people to procreate and have children

God says: in this concern what means “your wives are as a tilth unto you" , that is to say He made the womb like a soil where the sperm is the seed that a husband cultivates.

To have a true marriage contract, witnesses are provided. That is to say when two Muslim Couple is getting married, it is necessary for the other Muslims to witness such marriage contract and thus protecting the rights of the fetus to have two known and married parents.

To announce marriage, is another requirement for a true marriage contract as by this act Islam differentiates between illegitimate sexual relationships and marriage. Therefore the act of announcement means letting the majority to learn that those two people bound by the sacred bond of marriage. حقوق الجنين في الإسلام

  Islam prescribed a period of waiting for the wife, Iddat, in order to make sure that her womb is free and she is not pregnant of her ex-husband. Accordingly, this protects the fetus rights to know who his father is and save any confusion in this regard.

Islam absolutely banned the believers to perform the act of adultery or fornication as God dictates in Sura El Nour ( Nour chapter in the Holy Quran)

"Let no man guilty of adultery or fornication marry any but a woman similarly guilty, or an unbeliever: nor let any but such a man or an unbeliever marry such a woman: to the believers such a thing is forbidden. " (Sura El Nure- verse 3)

Otherwise, the punishment of those who do not conform to the dictations of God and Islam should be punished in public in order to let the other Muslims witness that as God says "and let a pretty of the believers witness their punishment" ( Sura El Nure – Verse 2 )   in order to be deterrent .

Accordingly, Islam comes to protect the fetus right to have a known linage and origin. However, this right is not preserved in those communities which allow different forms of unregulated behaviors as far as the relationship between man and woman is concerned, such as adultery, deceit, sex offences and having babies without the bond of marriage, in other words, lovechildren.

2-     the right to have a healthy and chaste womb environment

Womb is the first environment that fetus touches and this is where it stays to grow. It is figured more likely as a soil where the sperm is cultivated. Islam has granted this soil some sort of sanctity as it bounds the sexual relationship to marriage where only the husband can sow the seed in order to reap the harvest. Islam banned sex offences for a higher and virtuous reason; that is to keep such soil healthy and chaste rather than exhausted or injured...

  When diseases occur due to sex offences the first organ to be affected is the womb of the woman. This is why Islam banned adultery and fornications as through improper sexual relationships venereal diseases easily transmit. Islam has also banned alcoholic drinks, drugs and eating spoiled food as His Almighty says "Eat of the good things we have provided for you"

  Islam has also banned eating dead bodies of animals or birds, eating swine's meat (pork) or drinking blood. Further, ill-gotten food is strictly forbidden. Avoiding all these things ensure a healthy womb environment

Islam dictated some regulations and restrictions concerning the relationship between man and woman. Further, it forbids Muslim women to interact with strange men for women's sake and to keep them away from sick and evil people. Thus that would provide protection for fetus and secure chaste womb.

3-  The right to have a strong genetic origin

from the scientific point of view; fetus is formed as a result of integration in the hereditary substance, in other words chromosomes, of both man and woman, where these chromosomes carry the genetic characteristics of the child. In a matter of fact, marriage which is exclusive to the relatives of one's family is not favorable; this is according to the prophetic tradition, Muhammad (PBUH), " marrying a non-relative is favored than marrying a relative one"…narrated   by El Bukhary. The Hadeeth advises people not to get married to a relative spouse as this results in deformed kids. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) advises those who wishes to get married, to choose their wives carefully in order to make sure that she free form any deformity, and thus he assures that he will be having healthy and deformity free kids.

4-   The right to have a true faith

Marriage is the most intimate relationship that combines spiritual harmony with physical link. This is a vital matter that affects both parties and influences their potentiality of choice to a great extent. The main aim of both parties is to seek for the right and good partner rather than an unbeliever! God says " do not marry unbelieving women (idolaters) until they believe. A slave woman who believes is better than an unbelieving woman, even though she allures you"( Sura Bakara – verse 221)

When God dictates that Muslims are to be married to believers and never to unbelievers, was to ensure a true faith and powerful religion to the coming children and not to be subjected to the whims of an unbelieving father or mother.

5- The right to get into heaven

Islam maintains the right of fetus to get into heaven and to stay away from Hell as God says " O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from fire" . A believing father raises his children on virtues and the dictations of Islam which works as a firewall against tracing the devil's track. Thus Islam ensures religious family for fetus and a believing social background.

6- The right of equality with other fetuses

Islam stipulated that it is only He, God ,the Almighty, Who grants people baby boys or girls. So, it is up to God only to determine the fetus sex, whether it is a boy or a girl. In other words, fetus is helpless when the matter of sex is concerned and this makes all fetuses equal, girls and boys.

7- The right to have a normal social life

Islam prescribed that both parties, the husband and the wife, shall be socially equivalent as this ensures a normal and social environment for the coming children, where no way that one of the parents act superciliously. As a matte of fact, this lessens the potentiality of social discord and family disunity as it enhances the social life of families and the psychological needs.

8- The right to maintain fetus life

The law of Islam has provided the right of fetus to live and prohibited any attempt of killing him and further abortion is legislated in few established situations which are determined by physicians, Islam legists together with sociologists. In Islam, violators are punished equally, whether it is the father, the mother, or some one else... as the Islamic law dictates that the violator is to be deprived from inheritance in case of getting rid of fetus to capture his  share in the inheritance. Accordingly, the right of fetus to live is secured by Islam.

Islam legists agreed unanimously on prohibiting abortion and they resorted to the fact that God granted life to such lifeless thing and only He who has the power to take it back. Physicians and embryologists agreed that fetus is a living organism even when it is still a sperm and this is a convincing reason, from the scientific point of view, for not depriving such a helpless creature form the divine right of life.

9- The right to enjoy health life within womb

In Islam, the responsibility of fetus is resorted to parents as it is to be considered one of their duties, in other words subjects, in life " You are all guardians and each one of you is responsible for his own subjects", or that is to say " good shepherd is responsible for his own sheep" . Islam stipulated that the husband shall spend on his pregnant wife and socially protect her. This provides the right of fetus to enjoy secure, and serenity and good food " Let the women live (in Iddate) in the same style as ye live, according to your means: annoy them not, so as to restrict them. And if they carry (life in their wombs), then spend (your substance on them until they deliver their burden…" (Sura Talak – verse 6)

Accordingly, in Islam the husband is entitled to pay all the expenses of his pregnant wife after divorce, including food, housing, clothing, social protection, psychological support and medicines. This protects fetus against malnutrition and psychological illness. Islam protected women as well in a way that it allowed them to work outdoors only under admissible necessity.

10- Maintaining fetus good and benefit

For fetus sake, Islamic law gives the permission to the pregnant mother to eat in Ramadan and not to fast. (Prophet Muhammad, PBUH, exempted pregnant or suckling mothers from fasting) narrated by Termezi in the Fasting section.

11- Temporary hold of penalties for the pregnant

Islamic Law stipulated the delay of executing penalties on the pregnant adulterer till delivery, as what was dictated by Prophet Muhammad, PBUH, to a pregnant adulterer in an incident (you may go till your childbirth). Thus Islam comes to absolve fetus from the guilt of his mother.

12- Maintaining fetus's financial rights

Islam preserves the right of fetus in inheritance in case if it is born live. Islam legists stated that fetus is to be counted within the total of inheritors and his share should be preserved till childbirth. In case if it is born live, his assigned share should be separated.   In Islam, patrimony is divided on the basis of holding back the major part for the sake of such fetus, and further the legacy for the fetus is considered true and correct.

13-Honorable Islamic precedence

What we have already mentioned is a small number of rights out of the large number of rights for the fetus in Islam which wad not introduced to the modern civilization until 1959, when the committee of child's rights – which is affiliated to the General Society of the United Nations – stated that both mother and baby shall get the utmost care and protection especially before delivery. In 1966 the United Nations approved on providing special care for pregnant women before and after delivery as well and granting them paid vacations.

Revised By Magdy Abd Al-Shafy