Surrogacy in Islamic law: Is surrogacy in Islam allowed?

For couples who went under different medical treatments and still did not get a desirable result, surrogacy can be a new promising horizon. But what exactly is surrogacy?

Surrogacy is a medical procedure in which an infertile couple could have a child through using another woman’s womb. This child can be their own biological child or just be related to one of the parents genetically. This procedure can be done in two different ways: Traditional and Gestational

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Two types of surrogacy

Traditional or partial surrogacy: in this process, the surrogate and the genetic mother of the baby are the same. The eggs of the surrogate will be artificially inseminated by the sperms of intended father or a donor by using IUI technique.

Gestational or host surrogacy: in gestational surrogacy, the surrogate is just the carrier of the embryo and has no genetic ties to the child. The sperms and eggs of intended parents or donors will be combined in a laboratory environment by certain techniques (IVF or ICSI) and transferred to the surrogate uterus.

But why do people use surrogacy in the first place? What are the reasons? You can read about surrogacy usage below.

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Necessities and uses of surrogacy

In order to maintain the family as a social unit and prevent it from a possible breakdown, infertile couples try to the use surrogacy as a kind of treatment in order to have children. This action may have the following medical reasons.

The most important reason for using a surrogate is that either the infertile woman’s uterus is not suitable for pregnancy or she has no uterus at all. Lack of uterus may be congenital or acquired. In the congenital form, due to abnormal development of the molar ducts during pregnancy, the newborn girl may have normal ovaries but is deprived of having a uterus.

In the acquired type, a woman has no uterus because of a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) due to malignant changes in the mucous cells of the cervix or the uterus itself, but she has an ovary. Sometimes it is not possible to replace the fetus due to defects and abnormalities in the structure of the uterus causing by the presence of large or too many fibroids or due to repeated curettages (Asherman syndrome).

Other reasons of using surrogacy include helping a woman with cancer or cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other conditions that prevent pregnancy due to chemotherapy or medication. This method can be also recommended when a woman has a genetic disease that can be transmitted to the fetus or has had frequent miscarriages for unknown reasons.

Nowadays, there are approximately 80 million childless persons in the world. In most nations, not having a child is a major problem which leads to suffering and pain for the infertile couples. It can bring many negative social consequences for the couple, especially for women. They can be excluded from social events, criticized or mistreated. It may also lead to divorce, polygamous marriage or social isolation.

Surrogacy in Islam’s point of view


There are various legal, religious and social attitudes towards surrogacy in different countries. Surrogacy in Islam and Islamic countries is a widely discussable topic.  In order to examine the rulings of this process, candidates should refer to valid “fatwas” on surrogacy and opinions of jurists.

Surrogacy in Islam can be discussed in two different points of view: Sunni and Shia schools of thought.

Surrogacy process Step-by-step

Sunni School of Thought


 In Sunni, jurists don’t really have a positive attitude towards using IVF method and surrogacy. They assume getting an egg or sperm from a third party is similar to sharing the marriage bed with someone else and therefore they compare it to adultery because the surrogate is carrying the fertilized egg of someone who is not her legal husband and therefore it is considered illegitimate. Furthermore, they argue since the biological mother has a genetic part in creating the baby, there is a high potential for emotional and legal confrontation between the two “mothers”.

However, these two following conditions are permissible in Sunni as long as the couple are still married:

  • Fertilization outside the body which was occurred by combining the husband’s sperm and the wife’s egg and then transferred into the wife’s uterus (IVF + Embryo transfer).
  • Fertilization inside the wife’s body by making the husband’s sperm transferred into her uterus mechanically (IUI).

The conditions above mean that there is literally no surrogate mother! Both husband and wife have to be content about doing the process. The physician must be a female and it is better to be a Muslim if it is possible. Surrogacy in Hanafi and surrogacy in Shafei, is acceptable by using modern reproductive techniques as long as the insemination is occurred by sperms of the husband and eggs of the wife. Here It should be mentioned that a few religious authorities allow surrogacy between co-wives.

Shia School of Thought


In Shia, most religious leaders have the same view about third-party donations. However, in 1999, Ayatollah Khamane’i the Supreme Jurisprudent of the Shia in Iran ruled that under certain conditions surrogacy, egg or embryo donations are all allowed. “Transfer of the fetus to the uterus of the woman is not forbidden in any case, but touching and looking at the haram should be avoided”, he declared.

For instance, egg donation is allowed if the husband marries the egg donor temporarily. His justification for allowing embryo donation is that the embryo is created from a married couple and is given to another married couple, and it does not involve direct sexual contact so it cannot be called adultery.

This remarkable difference in Shia and Sunni attitudes about surrogacy origins from a different conception of adultery act. In the Shia conception, adultery is a physical and sexual bodily contact not just transferring some cells.

Also in the Shia’s point of view, adultery destroys the family while donation (or surrogacy) protects it. Surrogacy is acceptable based upon objectives of Sharia; which is to protect one’s dignity and honor, and also it defends the preservation of the human species which is one of the primary goals of Sharia. The supporters of surrogacy in Islam consider it permissible by comparing it to ‘wet-nursing’. Just like a foster mother who breastfed and gives nutrition to the baby, in surrogacy the baby is nourished by the surrogate mother. Therefore, they consider surrogacy and wet-nursing similar.

Terms of surrogacy use

Sharia rulings prevent the acceptance of surrogacy in Islam in absolute terms. The general acceptance of this act allows couples to have children in other ways without the woman going through the difficulty of having children in order to not lose her freshness and beauty. They argue that lowering the value of women to a rentable commodity and destroying the values of motherhood is one of the consequences.

To sum up, while having children is not a legal obligation for every couple, chasing the dream of conceiving children can be a personal right. Parenthood and surrogacy in Islam can be considered valid by following specific conditions and guidelines of Islamic law, jurisprudence and Sunnah.

Our professional medical team in TebMedTourism Co. is ready to guide you and answer your further questions about surrogacy. We will lead you the way till the end of the journey.  Contact TebMedTourism Co.  now free of charge all through the week.

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TebMedTourism Company is an International healthcare facilitator based in Tehran, Iran.

We start our professional activity in medical tourism industry regarding the profound capability of Iran in both healthcare & touristic fields.

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