Babies born before six months into pregnancy may survive through medical intervention
Fatwa No: 283993

  • Fatwa Date:12-2-2015 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 23, 1436
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Question

As-salaamu 3laikum, In one fatwa you mentioned that the minimum period of pregnancy is six months. Here in a magazine about pregnancy they said that some babies have been born at 23 weeks old and survived. Does this mean that they miscalculated the length of the pregnancy when they estimated it in the first place and it was in reality more than 23 weeks, or does what you said about pregnancy being a minimum of six months not exclude the possibility that a baby could be born earlier than that and survive? Jazaakum Allahu khair

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

We have already clarified that the jurists have established that the minimum period of pregnancy is six months, and some jurists reported a consensus of the scholars on this issue. We mentioned that ‘Ali  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him deduced this meaning from some verses of the Quran. Please refer to Fataawa 137526 and 263218.

Some researchers reported that some doctors endeavored to find a way for fetuses born before this period to live, and that this was actually observed in fetuses born after 22 weeks, and Allaah determined that they would live by intensive care.

If this were confirmed, then, first, it would be a very rare case, and rare cases cannot be taken into account (i.e. religious rulings are not based on what is rare, but rather on what is generally the case).

Secondly, this would have occurred by artificial means, that is, through the intervention of intensive care, but that (what is mentioned in the Sharee'ah texts) occurs in normal conditions. Dr. Husaam Ad-Deen Haamid said: "This indicates that 'the shortest duration of pregnancy' in medicine is not constant, and what is meant by it is the duration distinguishing the baby who stays alive with the presence of external medical assistance and the baby who does not live despite medical assistance." [End of quote]

Dr. Abdur-Rasheed Qaasim said: "It appears to me that the Sharee'ah texts indicate that the shortest period of pregnancy is six months under normal conditions. However, if premature delivery occurs before the sixth month and the fetus is put in a medical incubator (or an artificial womb as scientists hope to happen in the future) to pursue its care until after the sixth month, then it does not contradict the texts.]" [End of quote]

Allaah Knows best.

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