Establishing The Gender of Babies according to Medical and Islamic perspectives
Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Shalih Al Uthaymeen was asked: How to correlate between the ever-developing medical science as today, when it is able to reveal the sex of babies which are still in their mother’s womb, whether they are boy or girl, and Allah’s verse:
“It is He Who sends down the rain and knows what is in the wombs,” (Chapter Luqman: 34)
Besides, what about the interpretation of some scholars, such as mentioned in the tafseer of Ibn Jarir, from Mujahid, that a man came to ask to the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- about what will his wife give birth to. Then Allah revealed the previous verse – as narrated by Qatada -. What is the specificity that is contained in the generality of Allah’s verse. “What is in the wombs”?
Before we discuss about this matter, I’d like to explain that it is absolutely impossible for a contradiction to happen between the Qur’an and phenomena that we see today.
Had it been an evident contradiction between the events we see today and what written inside the Qur’an, then the possibility is that what happened in reality is just a mere claim, and not the real thing. Or, another possibility is that the text of the Qur’an doesn’t explain in detail what happened in reality which seems to contradict it. Because no matter what, both the revelation in the Qur’an and events happened in reality are certain, and two certain realities are impossible to contradict one another.
Next, if this point is already clear, it is said that the experts in medical field nowadays are able to use some media or sophisticated and modern devices to do deeper and more detailed studies of what inside a woman’s womb. Whereas the medical science which reveals about the existence of male or female genitalia, if the prediction is wrong, then there’s nothing to discuss about further. But if the prediction is correct, then basically it doesn’t contradict the Qur’anic verse. Because the verse explained about the unseen that is related to Allah’s knowledge.
There are five things that are related to the unseen, which are about the womb and the fetus, and no one knows about it but Allah, namely:
- How long will the fetus live inside its mother womb
- The life of the fetus in the world; its deeds.
- Its sustenance.
- Its happiness or sorrows (whether it’ll be a happy or a wretched person)
- Its sex before it is created
- And of course after Allah created it, the existence of the fetus’ sex is not a part of the unseen anymore. Because after its creation, it became a real thing that could be known by senses.
Even though the fetus’ existence is protected and covered by three layers of darkness, but if it is examined through scientific method, its existence will be evident. And the result of Allah’s creation and the result of powerful detection device that could penetrate the three layers of darkness that cover the fetus’ whereabout thus its sex could be seen and determined clearly, whether it is a boy or a girl, will not have very much differences. Also, there are no mentioning of explicit verse of the Qur’an nor the sunnah regarding the knowledge of sex determination of a fetus that is still in the womb.
About the narration of interpretation of Mujahid written by Ibn Jarir, that there was a man who came and asked the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- about the child that his wife was about to give birth to, then Allah revealed the mentioned verse, what is clear to us is that the narration is weak, since its chain is disconnected, due to the fact that Mujahid was a tabeen who narrated it directly from the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-.
Whereas the tafseer of Qatada -may Allah have mercy on him-, we say that it is possible that the meaning of his interpretation is that it is Allah alone Who knows about the fetus before He created it. But if it is already created, then its existence is no longer a secret to others.
Imam Ibn Katsir – may Allah have mercy on him- said, upon interpreting one of the verse in chapter Luqman: “Likewise, none has the knowledge about what reside in womb and what desired to happen inside it but Allah alone. But if Allah wishes to order the fetus that is inside the womb to be male or female, or to be a wretched or a happy person in its life, then His angels who are tasked to write those divine will, know about it, likewise, some among His other creations.”
Regarding the question that is related to the generality of Allah’s verse:
“What is in the womb”.
we say: If the verse contains the matter of sex, whether the fetus will be a male or female after its creation, then what specify it are the five senses and the fact. And many of the scholars of ushul had explained that what could specify the generality of the meaning of the Qur’an and the sunnah are evident indication, or consensus among the scholars (ijma’), analogy, or the five senses and intelligence.
And this opinion is very well-known. Supposed that the verse isn’t related to the existence of a fetus after its creation, but before that, then there’s no contradiction if it is said that the knowledge is about the sex of the fetus.
All praises be to Allah, until today, there is nothing could be found, and there will never be, things that contradict the Qur’an. Every accusation issued by the enemy of Islam, that there are so many things happened in this world that contradicted what revealed inside the Qur’an, all came from their narrow-mindedness in comprehending the verses of the Qur’an. Or it emerged from their evil intention towards the Qur’an. But to those who have religious knowledge, and the expert of sciences who conducted various studies in order to unveil the truth, they could repel any kind of misleading thrown by the enemies of Islam; all praises be to Allah alone.
Concerning this matter, men are divided into three groups, two in the extreme ends, and one in the middle (fair).
- The first group is those people who hold firmly to the contextual meaning of the Noble Qur’an which actual meaning is still unclear. And they always deny everything that against them in all affairs, that are related to the reality, which drag them to uncover their own stupidity, or even worse, become
a backstab for the Qur’an itself which probably, in his man’s view, the verse contradicted the reality.
- The second group rejects anything that the Qur’an points out and tend to believe every thing that happened in the real world and of course these people have a tendency to atheism.
- Whereas the third group, which is also the middle group, tend to believe in whatever indicated by the Qur’an and justify the events happened in this world. They know that whatever in both sides will are real things. And it is impossible for the Qur’an and the facts to contradict each other.
They combine the indications from the Qur’an and the sunnah and from human’s mind. This way, they have saved their religion and their way of thinking. And Allah grants His guidance to the faithful men when there’s feud about the truth happened. And Allah is The One Who Give the guidance for anyone that He wishes to the straight path.
May Allah always give us His guidance, together with our faithful brothers, regarding this matter, and make us as the ones who get and give guidance, and leaders in create betterment. And no guidance but from Allah alone, and to Him alone I rely myself onto and I repent.
[Cited and translated by Abdul Aziz and Fatawa Arkanil Islam, by Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Shalih Al Uthaymeen, no. 15. page 40-43]. [Copied from Adz-Dzakhiirah Al-Islamiyah magazine, Vol. 5, no. 3, 27th edition -Shafar 1428 H. Published by Ma’had Ali Al-Irsyad Surabaya. Jl. Sidotopo Kidul No. 51 Surabaya]