Sunday, June 20, 2010


From Bilal Philips' Contemporary Issues, 2002:

Cloning is defined in biology as the production of a genetically identical duplicate of an organism and in the world of scientific technology as the artificial production of organisms with the same genetic material. In simple terms, cloning is genetic duplication.

1) Humans have been cloning roses long before knowing what cloning is. In 1997, cloning made the headlines around the world when Dr. Wilmut announced that he had successfully cloned a sheep named "Dolly" from the mammary cell of an adult ewe. However, Wilmut had actually manipulated an egg rather than actual cloning. This process is referred to as cloning even in scientific circles.

2) The application of cloning techniques to agricultural and animal husbandry might be a clue for boosting food production the world over. Islam has no objection to gene-manipulation in the animal and vegetable kingdom as long as no harm to human life has been confirmed [and it does not cause undue harm or stress to the animals - blogger's note].

3) Cloning may be used to save a life by giving children who need organ transplants to have a clone born to donate organs. The need for bone-marrow transplants in children with leukemia has raised the ethical issues about parents having other children to provide the transplant. Cloning could also be a big advantage for people who have lost a loved one like the copy of a child for a couple whose child had died.

4) Scarcity of organs or human parts is putting tremendous pressure on scientists to come up with a way to generate organs and human parts in the laboratories. Without a parent body, the generation of organs and parts seems unlikely. Consequently, the demand will be for the cloning of an entire human. From the statements of a number of scientists, it appears that the main thrust of cloning a human being is the prolonging of human life with the ultimate goal of achieving eternal life. In the first stage, a human clone would be a source of original spare parts to replace worn out parts in a relatively healthy body. Ultimately, a brain transplant would eliminate multiple operations in an old or unhealthy body. The belief that the totality of a human being is the contents of the human brain offers the possibility of avoiding operations by simply attaching electrodes tot he human brain and downloading its contents into a computer. Once the process is complete, electrodes could be reattached to a cloned body and the stored contents of the computer could be uploaded into the new body. In that way human beings could afford such an operation could live forever.

5) Islam opposes such plans because, if they succeeded the clone would be another human being, having its own spirit and right to life. The clone would be like an identical twin who, though looking exactly the same as its brother/sister, is a unique individual.

6) Those believing that humans are the contents of their brains, since the '70s, have paid tens of thousands of dollars to have their heads severed at death and preserved in liquid nitrogen with the hope that they will be revived at some time in the future. However, their fate is no different from the pharaohs who mummified their bodies in the vain belief that they would continue to live after their deaths. Death is a one way street. There is no coming back. The near death experiences are hallucinations. Those who were revived did not die, but only appeared to die to observers or to less sensitive instruments.

7) Cloning has also been proposed as a possible solution for getting children if parents happen to be infertile. This would create ethical problems as a clone of the husband would be genealogically his brother and of the wife her sister.

[Islam is strict about maintaining genealogy, so the child of a couple should always be biologically theirs, meaning that the sperm and egg must belong to the couple themself. Adoption is another issue that will be discussed further at another time. - blogger's note]

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