Contemporary Redefinitions of the Islamic Abortion Law

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By Ayman Abdel Haleem (University of Cambridge, Faculty of Divinity, M.Phil. in Theology 1999/2000)

In recent years the debate surrounding abortion has become a bit of a political hot potato. This can be seen particularly in the United States, where no candidate wishing to take his place in the Senate or even in the White House can escape being questioned as to his stance on the issue: pro-life or pro-choice. While the debate is certainly at its fieriest in the States, it has also become an issue in all other countries, especially due to the advances in medical knowledge that allow the procedure to happen with almost no risk to the mother. These medical advances mean that the question now to be asked is purely an ethical one, with the debate being centred on the issue of “At what stage of the pregnancy can the foetus be considered a human being?” This question is not one that can be answered from the medical perspective alone. Medical science clearly demonstrates that biological life begins with conception, and yet the mere occurrence of biological life, does not necessarily make the foetus a person. Should the foetus therefore be accorded the same rights as a human being, and if so, at what stage of the pregnancy should it attain these rights? It is when this ethical debate commences, that people have often looked to religion for an answer, unavailable from medical knowledge alone. Continue reading

Embryology in the Qur’an: A description of the ‘Alaqah stage

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Last Updated 29 March 2014.

Photograph of a human embryo during the fourth week with visible body segmentation. (The Human Body. The Incredible Journey from Birth to Death, © BBC Worldwide Ltd, 1998) .

Photograph of a human embryo during the fourth week with visible body segmentation. (The Human Body. The Incredible Journey from Birth to Death, © BBC Worldwide Ltd, 1998).

The Qur’an mentions the term alaqah علقة as the second stage of human prenatal development. The word ‘alaqah according to many linguistic Arabic dictionaries has several meanings: “leech”, “coagulated blood”, “blood clot”, or “the early stage of the embryo”.  In this illustrated paper, the term ‘alaqah is defined and described in detail. The general shape of the embryo is described,  internal events such as the formation of blood and closed vessels are mentioned as well as the attachment of the embryo to the placenta. Until recently these details were not fully appreciated, since they referred to details in human development which were scientifically unknown in earlier times.

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Download screen viewing PDF (version 1.90 27 March 2014): Embryology in the Qur’an: A description of the Alaqah stage (Screen)

 

UpdatedDownload PDF optimized for printing (version 1.90 27 March 2014): Embryology in the Qur’an: A description of the Alaqah stage (Print)

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