© 2021 Bakanova M. V.
2021 – № 1 (21)
Bakanova M. V. (2021). Reproduktivnaja model’ v islame: tradicii i sovremennost’ [Reproductive Model in Islam: Traditions and Modernity]. Medicinskaja antropologija i biojetika [Medical Anthropology and Bioethics], 1 (21).
Marina Bakanova is the Head of the international medical center Dua Hospital (Islamabad, Pakistan)
Keywords: reproductive model, Islam, contraception, pregnancy, family, medical anthropology.
Abstract. Despite the fact that modern society is moving along the path of secularization, religion continues to have a significant impact on people’s lives. Islam, which initially included not only religious dogmas, but also a significant layer of law, turns out to be significant not only for traditionally Muslim countries, but for Muslims around the world. Since reproduction remains one of the basic concepts of family education, the reproductive model in Islam has a significant impact on the entire society. Still, one cannot say that adopted reproductive models in the traditionally Muslim countries fully comply with religious attitudes.
The main legal provisions of Islam are based on the verses of the Quran and Sunnah (collections of reliable hadiths about the sayings or actions of the Prophet Muhammad), according to which legal judgments, or fatwas, are made. At the same time, various scholars can come to slightly different conclusions and it is the person’s right to use the one that best meets his needs.
The reproductive model can be seen as an integrated model of reproductive health and issues of sexuality, as well as reproductive behavior and family patterns.
Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being in the reproductive sphere. It includes:
- The ability of people to conceive and have children
- Possibility of sexual relations without transmission of STDs
- Safety of conception, pregnancy and childbirth, the birth of a healthy child
- Harmonious psychosocial situation in the family
- Mother’s well-being
- Ability to plan the next pregnancy.
Issues of reproductive health and its protection are considered in detail in Islam.
From the moment of birth, Islam implies the equality of girls and boys and the same rights to health, education, nutrition, etc., which undoubtedly contributes to the preservation and strengthening of reproductive and sexual health. Moreover, equality does not mean equivalence without regard to the characteristics of gender.
The coming of age in Islam is tied to the appearance of the menstrual cycle among girls and nocturnal emissions among boys. From that moment on, they acquire the status of an adult with all the corresponding rights and obligations.
The possibility of having sex without the risk of contracting STDs stems in Islam from the postulate of the prohibition of sexual intercourse outside of marriage. At the same time, the sexual life of spouses is considered meritorious behavior.
The safety of conception, pregnancy and childbirth, the birth of a healthy child in Islam is determined by the fact that a woman has no obligation to work and support herself, let alone her children. It is exclusively a man’s responsibility to support a woman (including during pregnancy) and a child or children, even if the woman is richer. Moreover, if a woman’s health requires more rest (for a number of objective reasons), then the spouse must find her a housekeeper or, in addition to his work, do some of the household chores. Also, the husband is responsible for the woman’s regular visits to the doctor, taking vitamins, proper nutrition, etc. The choice of a spouse according to Islam is also a pragmatic procedure: decisions are taken with consideration of the potential partner’s religiosity, beauty (external and internal, including signs of health), gender (including genetic inheritance) and private property.
Reproductive behavior is an integral system of actions, relationships and mental states of an individual aimed at giving birth or refusing to give birth to a child of any order, in marriage and out of wedlock.
Reproductive (gender) behavior may be of three types:
- The actual reproductive behavior – a set of behavioral acts and decisions directly aimed at the birth of a child
- Contraceptive behavior – actions aimed at preventing conception
- Abortive behavior – actions aimed at preventing unwanted birth
Reproductive behavior, or focusing on having a child, is one of the main reasons for creating a family in Islam (the second is the satisfaction of sexual needs).
The prenatal development of a child is fully described in the Quran (if we take into account the fact of its appearance in the 7th century), its stages are analyzed in detail.
According to Islam, the embryo initially does not have a soul; it is given to him either after the first 40 days of development, or after three times 40 days. After this time passes, an embryo becomes a partial human. This numerically defined period, which can be calculated with a sufficient degree of reliability, has also become a factor when making decisions to carry out abortions. At the same time, pregnancy in Islam is an honorable duty of a woman.
Despite the fact that in Islam there is an explicit command to have children, contraception has also been inherently stipulated and has not been a condemned action among Muslims. The modern concept of “family planning” is thus acceptable for Muslims, although certain planning methods may raise questions. Interrupted intercourse, barrier methods, lactation (lactational amenorrhea) and methods of contraception are recognized as acceptable. Doubtful methods include intrauterine devices, postcoital contraceptives, and tube blockages.
As for abortions, they can be allowed up to 7-8 weeks of pregnancy for serious medical (threat to the life and health of the mother and child) or social reasons (for example, rape), and in some cases up to 18-19 weeks of pregnancy. But, in general, abortion is not approved due to the fact that contraception is allowed and it is necessary to use it to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies may be permitted by Muslim scholars, given that they are used exclusively by married couples. Usage of donor material or surrogate mothers is usually not allowed.
We can conclude that the reproductive cycle has been considered by the Islamic tradition since its formation. Many of the original norms remain relevant today.
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