Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Islam and New Kinship

Islam and New Kinship: Reproductive Technology and the Shariah in Lebanon

Morgan Clarke
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 262
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Islam and New Kinship
    Book Description:

    Assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization have provoked global controversy and ethical debate. This book provides a groundbreaking investigation into those debates in the Islamic Middle East, simultaneously documenting changing ideas of kinship and the evolving role of religious authority in the region through a combination of in-depth field research in Lebanon and an exhaustive survey of the Islamic legal literature. Lebanon, home to both Sunni and Shiite Muslim communities, provides a valuable site through which to explore the overall dynamism and diversity of global Islamic debate. As this book shows, Muslim perspectives focus on the moral propriety of such controversial procedures as the use of donor sperm and eggs as well as surrogacy arrangements, which are allowed by some authorities using surprising and innovative legal arguments. These arguments challenge common stereotypes of the rigidity and conservatism of Islamic law and compel us to question conventional contrasts between 'liberal' and Islamic notions of moral freedom, as well as the epistemological assumptions of anthropology's own 'new kinship studies'. This book will be essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary Islam and the impact of reproductive technology on the global social imaginary.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-923-9
    Subjects: Anthropology, Health Sciences, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-x)
  4. Note on Transliteration
    (pp. xi-xi)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xii-xii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    In Spring 2007, I was sitting on a sofa in the lounge of the home of a distinguished Shiite religious scholar in the southern suburbs of Beirut. Books and papers, escaping from the over-flowing bookcases, lay piled on the table in front of me. The uppermost caught my eye: an Arabic translation of David Harvey’sThe condition of postmodernity, a photocopy of Foucault’sPower/knowledgein English, an issue of an Arabic literary periodical devoted to deconstructionism, a book onMuhammad, the prophet of peace. But I had come to discuss the author’s latest work, a slim volume dedicated to the...

  7. Part I. Contexts

    • Prologue: Ahmed’s story
      (pp. 21-25)

      Before reaching Beirut I spent some months in neighbouring Damascus, where I was privileged to hear one family’s story, whose themes resonated throughout my subsequent research. I recount it to the reader here to serve, as it did for me then, as a prologue to what was to follow in the rather different settings I explored in Lebanon.¹

      I visited Ahmed² with a mutual friend at his shop in an area of Damascus well known for stores specializing in Islamic literature. I had been told that Ahmed had adopted a child, which surprised me: adoption is nominally forbidden in Islam....

    • Chapter 1 ‘New kinship’, new reproductive technologies and ideas of kinship in the Middle East
      (pp. 26-55)

      The themes in Ahmed’s story of kinship created and identity transformed, through choice as well as substance – in this case, breast milk – resonate with the preoccupations of what have become known, among proponents and critics alike, as ‘new kinship studies’.¹ ‘Old kinship’ was concerned with typologizing and classifying, with ‘theory’. Studies multiplied, most of them, it seems in retrospect, concerned with fitting ‘kinship systems’ into place within generalizing analytical frameworks such as ‘alliance’ and ‘descent’. As such work accumulated, it became apparent that violence was being done to ethnographic data by attempting to force them into a restricted range of...

    • Chapter 2 Islamic law and the religion of Lebanon: The example of adoption
      (pp. 56-90)

      Lebanon was created as a separate state by the Great Powers after the First World War to be a Christian dominated enclave within the wider Muslim Middle East, largely under the auspices of France, which had had a long history of involvement with the Maronite Christians of Mount Lebanon and was awarded the Mandate to supervise the new nation by the League of Nations.¹ The initial Christian demographic majority has, however, subsequently evolved into a relative minority, due to the relative increase of the Muslim population. The topic is a sensitive one: no official census has been carried out since...

  8. Part II. Conversations

    • Chapter 3 Test-tube fiqh: Islamic legal reactions to the new reproductive technologies
      (pp. 93-115)

      Medically assisted conception has become a prominent theme of Islamic legal literature as part of a wider blossoming of global Islamic legal scholarship on medical ethical issues (Rispler-Chaim 1993). To restrict ourselves to the literature in Arabic, the terms employed include:al-talqīh al-sinā‘ī /istinā‘ī, ‘artificial fecundation’ or ‘artificial conception’, most usually but not exclusively applied to artificial insemination;¹atfāl al-anābīb, a straight calque of ‘testtube babies’, and, by extension, ‘in vitro fertilization’; andwasā’il al-injāb al-musā‘idah, ‘techniques of assisted reproduction’. Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the world’s most famous Sunni jurists, now based in Qatar, entitles a fatwa on the...

    • Chapter 4 More test-tube fiqh
      (pp. 116-151)

      Shiite religious authorities share the Sunnis’ commitment to science and medical progress; indeed, the Lebanese Hezbollah, like their Iranian models, have made such a commitment a core part of their revolutionary platform (Abisaab 2006: 233). Shiite authorities likewise for the most part find assisted reproductive procedures involving a husband and (one) wife unproblematic as long as care is taken regarding the uncovering and manipulation of the private parts by those normally forbidden to do so.¹ However, we find a diversity of opinion regarding the use of third parties in assisted reproduction, and the consequent relations. Some of these opinions are...

    • Chapter 5 Medical perspectives
      (pp. 152-182)

      Having come to terms with the Islamic legal debates over fertility treatment, it is helpful to have some idea of how the issues play out beyond the clerical world. Here I draw on the perspectives of medical practitioners in Lebanon, as well as referring to the work of other scholars studying fertility treatment in Lebanon and the wider Middle East. Almost all the doctors I spoke to have worked both inside and outside of Lebanon, and thus had interesting comparative insights. The regulatory situation was one prominent theme, with doctors commonly worrying that the assisted reproductive sector in Lebanon was...

  9. Part III. Confrontations

    • Chapter 6 Brave new worlds?
      (pp. 185-215)

      We started, in Chapter 1, by setting the ‘new kinship studies’ of recent anthropology in historical context, as part of a sustained programme of questioning traditional moral categories. We took Britain as our example, from the late nineteenth century onwards, where Parliament debated and legislated a series of changes with regard to kinship specifically, concerning divorce, incest and affinity. Anthropologists were called upon for their own special expertise: knowledge of societies with different modes of social organization from that of Britain, and theories as to what was universal and what not in this regard. It will be helpful in this...

  10. Glossary of Arabic terms
    (pp. 216-219)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 220-238)
  12. Index
    (pp. 239-250)