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Dr. A. Al Sayyari
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Last update July 2020  التحديث الاخير في
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The Ethics of Stem Cell Research – Revisited
By Dr. Mohamed Ali Al Bar and Dr. Isam Ghanem

When does an embryo become a person with all rights owed to a peron and at what point in pregnancy does it become owed full moral standing?
Is it at fertilization (if we believe this, we should, then consider a fertilized egg in a test tube a person), or at implantation (if we believe this, we should ponder if you are causing death by using the contraceptive coil since this prevents implantation), or is it at the stage at which the fetal heart develops or fetal EEG becomes apparent ( after all we do -in a mirror image fashion-diagnose death when the heart stops or brain activity ceases)?

Two Aden College alumni – Dr Mohamed Ali Al bar in his many papers and Dr Isam Ghanem, in his oft-quoted book – Islamic Medical jurisprudence-addressed the Islamic view regarding stem cell and embryonic research. They invoke the important and centrally significant role of the Islamic concept of ensoulment which –according to the majority of Moslem jurist-occurs at 120 days of gestation when discussing embryo research, stem cell research and indeed the permissibilty of abortion.

The moment of ensolument appears to be the dividing line between a somewhat relaxed attitude towards allowing abortion ( albiet with certain conditions to be fulfilled) on the one hand  and stringent and highly narrow criteria for allowing abortion beyond 120 days of gestation on the other.

Dr Isam Ghanem also wrote two papers on this topic namely  "The Response of Islamic Jurisprudence to Ectopic Pregnancies, Frozen Embryo Implantation and Euthanasia (In: Arab Law Quarterly 4, 345-349. (1989)) and "Embryo Research: An Islamic Response«. In: Medicine, Science and the Law 32.1, (1991).
His writings have been recently quoted as follows . “thus it is not surprising if discussions
(among Islamic scholars)about stem cell research center on the moment that the soul is breathed into the embryo. On this the Arabic legal expert Isam Ghanem says ‘‘Embryo Research is … legal under Islamic Jurisprudence provided the foetus is under 120 days old and provided both the mother and husband together consent to such research’’ (Ilhan Ilkilic “New Bioethical Problems As a Challenge for Muslims” in Forum for Intercultural Philosophy 6 (2005).

In the Holy Quran we read in Chapter 23, verse 12-14 “We created man of an extraction of clay, then we sent him, a drop in a safe lodging, then We created of the drop a clot, then we created of the clot a tissue, then We created of the tissue bones, then we covered the bones in flesh; thereafter We produced it as another creature. So blessed be God, the best of creators”. Some scholars interpret “thereafter We produced him as another creature” to mean that later, in gestational development- does a fetus become full human being as reflected by “thereafter We produced him as another creature.

Dr Moahmed Ali Albar- an Aden College alumnus is arguably the most pre-eminent Moslem physician/Ismaic scholar writing on Islamic Medical Ethics. Among his many writings on the status o embryos in Islam, one could mention:
  * Contemporary Topics in Islamic Medicine
  * Human development, as revealed in the Holy Qur’an and Hadith. Jeddah: Saudi Publishing House, 1992:57–62
Counselling about genetic disease: an Islamic perspective- Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal v.5:6, 1999.

He is quoted as writing “ according to Ibn hajar Al Asqalani and Ibn Al Qaim human life only occurs when the nervous system is developed in the embryo and when voluntary movements have started. Prior to that, the embryo has only a vegetative life. Abu Hamid Al Ghazali argued that although ensoulment occurs at a latter stage, the life of the embryo should be respected from the time of fertilization.

In March 2003, while the Iraq war was raging relentlessly a dedicated group of healthcare  providers travelled to Aden.

Their expertise spanned from Nephrology (kidney experts), dialysis , Transplant Surgery, Psychology, Anesthesia to Intensive Care. They came from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Canada, Austria, UK and Poland.

Two of them were Aden College alumni.
Together with physicians and surgeons from Aden, they held a 3 day international symposium on kidney diseases.

However, their visit will  long be remembered for a few other remarkable things:

1. They came to do their thing undeterred by a raging war “in the neighbourhood”

2. They did the first ever renal transplantation in Aden. In fact they did 5 transplants in under 24 hours. A Guinness book of record, if ever there was one.

3. Little did they know that they would require more than their medical know-how to pull this through. Read about their fascinating experiences at the following links.


2. Dealing with the uncertain and unexpected.

3. Human bonding in transplantation.

Did Islamic Law influence English Common Law and International Law?
Dedicated to my teacher Mr. Abdullah Oqba who was the first to alert me to the Significant Contributions made
by Arabs and Moslem).

Dr. Abdulla Al Sayyari.

Click here to read more.

Read about an old -now vanished- Adeni Social Habit  by Mohamed Al Baidhani.

Click here to read more.

Read Dr. Mohamed Ali Albar Presentation on Fatwas about what treatments, medical interventions or therapies render untenable and break the fast.

Click here to read more.

For a complete list of medical publications by the late Dr. Wigdan Luqman.

Click here to read more.

Undeterred by a raging Iraqi war,  dedicated healthcare providers travelled to Aden.
Two of them were Aden College Alumni.

Read more about their courage down the page and link to their findings.

Check lists of books published by Aden College Alumni.

Click here to read more.

What about SexDr Al Bar with Abdulla Uqba in Jeddah?
A new study by Dr. Mohamed Albar,FRCP (London) which explains in Arabic and English the hazards of sexual permissiveness and sexual behavour in Islam.

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