Muslim arguments for and against gene therapy and genetic engineering

Somatic cell therapy

For

  • Muslims are called on to provide care and relieve suffering and somatic cell therapy may offer new and better cures for diseases.
  • Islam has a long tradition of scientific research and medical innovation. Many Muslims would argue that Allah has given human beings the knowledge and skills to develop treatments for diseases and conditions that cause suffering.

Against

  • Some Muslims might suggest that life is a test and that suffering is part of this test. They may refer to the Qur'an:
quote
Believers, fortify yourselves with patience and prayer. Allah is with those that are patient.Qur'an 2:153

Germ line therapy

For

  • Developing treatments that would ensure that future generations do not suffer from genetic conditions is a sign of truly following Islam.
  • Muslims who think that the embryo does not have a soul until later in pregnancy may support the genetic manipulation of embryos at early stages of their development to ensure that they do not suffer in the future.

Against

  • Some Muslims would consider the unknown risks of germ line therapy to be too great. They would consider it their role to prevent harm to future generations.
  • Some may consider the genetic make-up of each human to be part of Allah's plan and germ line therapy to be going against this plan.

Saviour siblings

For

  • Muslims are taught to be kind and compassionate like Allah, and his prophet Muhammad. Helping to save the life or relieve the suffering of a sibling would follow these teachings.
  • Some might argue that the intention of saviour siblings is a good one. Some would say that Allah has given human beings the knowledge to conduct these procedures.

Against

  • Some Muslims believe that the embryos destroyed during the process have a soul.
  • In Islam, all human life is created by Allah. Creating a saviour sibling uses one child to cure the sick sibling, rather than necessarily valuing the child for itself as a creation of Allah.
  • Muslims are taught that Allah is in control of our birth and death. Some Muslims think that we should not interfere in Allah's plan by creating saviour siblings.

Designer babies

For

  • Using the technology to prevent disease, not for non-medical gender selection or for enhancement, could be considered to be within a Muslim's role as vicegerent of Allah.

Against

  • Even though sons are prized in many Muslim societies, most Muslims would be opposed to gender selection. This is because they believe Islam emphasises the equal value of the genders.
  • As these processes involve the destruction of some embryos, some Muslims would disagree with it because they believe the embryo already has a soul.
  • Allah creates each human being. Some Muslims would be against genetic engineering that aims to 'improve' on Allah's creation. This might be considered to be acting like Allah, and could be referred to as shirk.

Embryology

For

  • In 2003, the Muslim World League issued a statement that supported the use of spare embryos from IVF procedures when they are used to help develop medicines and treatments.
  • Muslims are taught that where the tradition does not contain specific guidance they should do what is in the public interest. This is called maslaha. Curing disease and medical conditions would be considered to be in the public interest.
  • Embryology can lead to cures and can be seen as a way of helping people who are suffering from diseases or disorders. Islam teaches Muslims to care for the sick and cure disease, so this would lead some Muslims to support these processes.

Against

  • Some Muslims would oppose the creation of embryos purely for research because it involves the manipulation of embryos and their destruction after 14 days. Some Muslims believe that embryos have a soul from conception. The presence of this soul means that embryos should be valued and cared for.
  • There is also a concern that the research could be pursued for selfish and financial reasons. This might be considered as against the Islamic teachings on the good and honest use of resources given by Allah.