As Muslims, we have first to bear in mind the fact that children are Allah’s gifts – whether males or females. So, it’s the character of the Muslim to accept Allah’s gifts with pleasure and gratitude. Therefore, a true Muslim never bothers his mind with such ideas that bother the minds of others such as predetermination of the sex of the child. As a universal religion, Islam doesn’t accept discrimination based on gender, color, race, etc.
Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states: “There is no doubt that the issue of determining the sex of the fetus is worthy of attracting the attention of jurisprudents, especially that it is probable to be applied soon to human beings.
But before tackling such an issue, I’d like to say that some of the early senior jurisprudents (may Allah be pleased with them) would refuse to answer the question regarding things that had not happened yet so that the people would not get involved in supposing the occurrence of things instead of dealing with what already was taking place.
In that regard, Ibn`Umar said, “Do not ask about what has not happened, for I heard `Umar cursing those who do so.” Some of the early religious scholars would say to the one who asked them about something, “Has it already taken place?” If the answer was in the affirmative, they would answer the question; and if it was in the negative, they would postpone the answer until it took place. The scholars would criticize those who posed questions about supposed things.
In that respect, ash-Sha`bi, the Imam of Kufa in the age of the early righteous predecessors, said, “By Allah, those people made me dislike to go to the mosque.” He was asked, “Who are those people?” He said, “Those who ask about supposed things.” Moreover, he would say: “The most disliked words to me are: ‘suppose that….’”
I may follow the attitude of those early scholars and refuse to answer the question of this fatwa until the subject in question takes place in order not to anticipate evil things before their occurrence. Who knows? Scientists may face great obstacles that they did not take into consideration on performing experiments to determine the sex of the fetus or that they thought they could overcome on applying them to human beings.
However, I’ll answer the question of the fatwa for two reasons. First, the questioner believes that determining the sex of the fetus is likely to be applied soon to humans and it is not a far supposition. Hence, we jurisprudents are to be prepared to highlight the point of view of Islam regarding what would follow the occurrence of such an unprecedented thing.
Second, it is important to clarify whether performing such experiments on human beings is lawful or unlawful.
In fact, determining the sex of the fetus may shock the believers When they first hear about it for two reasons. First, the believers have always known that knowing the conditions of the fetus is confined only to Allah and people have nothing to do in that regard. They base this on Allah’s saying: “Allah knoweth that which every female beareth and that which the wombs absorb and that which they grow…” (Ar-Ra`d: 8)
This is one of the keys of the Unseen mentioned in Allah’s saying: “Lo! Allah! With Him is knowledge of the Hour. He sendeth down the rain, and knoweth that which is in the wombs.” (Luqman: 34) According to this, the believers wonder how a human being could claim that he can know the sex of the fetus and, moreover, can determine its sex and control it.
Second, the believers believe that claiming the ability to determine the sex of the fetus is an objection to Allah’s will, for it is only Allah Who can decide what fetus will be male and what will be female, and it is He alone Who can distribute the num
ber of males and females. The believers consider this a sign of Allah’s existence, providence, and wisdom. Allah says: “Unto Allah belongeth the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. He createth what He will. He bestoweth female (offspring) upon whom He will, and bestoweth male (offspring) upon whom He will. Or He mingleth them, males and females, and He maketh barren whom He will. Lo! He is Knower, Powerful.” (As-Shura: 49-50)
But let’s explain what is meant by saying that it is only Allah Who knows that which is in the wombs. We say that this indicates that Allah knows in detail everything about the fetus: whether it will live or die, whether it will be delivered alive, whether it will be smart or stupid, strong or weak, happy or miserable. As for the human’s knowledge in that regard, it does not go beyond knowing the physical conditions of the fetus, such as its sex.
Accordingly, man’s experiments to decide the sex of the fetus do not go beyond Allah’s will; rather, it is an implementation of Allah’s will, for man cannot know a thing without Allah’s decreeing that and cannot will to do a thing without Allah’s willing that. Allah Almighty says: “Yet ye will not, unless Allah willeth.” (Ad-Dahr: 30)
In light of this interpretation, it may be lawful that parents can choose the sex of their child, but this is to be applied only in cases of necessity (darurah) or the need that equals necessity. But to be on the safe side, let’s leave this to Allah’s will and discretion, for Allah says: “Thy Lord bringeth to pass what He willeth and chooseth. They have never any choice…” (Al-Qasas: 68)