Are Ultrasound Scans Allowed in Islam?
I received this question on the IslamicAnswers.com website and I am reprinting the question and my answer here:
I am four months pregnant and soon i will have my second scan.
Is it haraam to ask what’s in my tummy?
And if it’s not haram plz could i have a hadeeth or ayaa in da quran?
Dear sister Marya, As-salamu alaykum wa rahmatullah,
Getting an ultrasound scan is not haram. I have never seen any ruling by any scholar that it is forbidden, but I have read many opinions that say it’s acceptable.
I was actually surprised that this is even an issue.
In fact it’s a good idea to determine if the fetus is suffering from any health problems, as doctors nowadays may be able to treat such problems even before the child is born.
It’s also very helpful to know the position of the baby in the womb, as a baby that is positioned incorrectly could endanger itself and the mother at delivery. Historically, many women have died from such problems.
My experience with my daughter
When my daughter Salma was in her mother’s womb, an ultrasound scan showed us two potentially serious problems. The first was that the baby was breach (turned the wrong way). The second was that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. The doctor said that ordinarily with a breach baby he might try to turn it manually, but in my daughter’s case such a maneuver might tighten the cord around her neck and choke her. He recommended a cesarean section, and he said that we should not delay.
So we agreed, and Alhamdulillah my daughter is a healthy, lovely girl. If we had not performed the scan, we would not have known about the cord, and we might have lost the baby and endangered her mother as well.
Sometimes Muslims worry that an ultrasound might be haram because it might be taken as probing into Al-Ghayb or the unseen things that only Allah knows about. Here is an opinion on that subject:
Dr. Hatem al-Haj , associate professor of Fiqh at Shari`ah Academy of America and Islamic University of Minnesota, stated:
There are two different types of the unseen, absolute and relative. The absolute unseen belongs only to Almighty Allah, such as knowledge of the future that He did not disclose to any of His creation. While the relative unseen is like what is taking place in a different country at this time, but we do not know. It is part of the unseen because of our limited capacities and lack of encompassing knowledge, but it is not part of the absolute unseen.
The sex of the fetus in the womb is part of the relative knowledge of the unseen that is kept from some of Almighty Allah’s creation and disclosed to others. It is not in the latter stages of absolute knowledge of the unseen that belongs only to Him.
The reason why the question is asked – I think – and some Muslims may hesitate about this issue, is the following verse:
Almighty Allah says, (Verily, Allah! With Him (Alone) is the knowledge of the Hour, He sends down the rain, and knows that which is in the wombs. No person knows what he will earn tomorrow, and no person knows in what land he will die. Verily, Allah is All Knower, All Aware (of things).) (Luqman 31: 34)
That which is in the wombs here does not apply to the sex of the fetus, even though the sex may be at some earlier stage of the knowledge of the absolute unseen. It refers to everything about this creature and its future.
The proof of this is that we were told that there is an angel who knows the sex of the fetus. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,
“After the nutfah [drop (of semen)] is in the womb for forty or forty five nights, the angel enters and says: My Lord, will he be good or evil? Both will be written. Then he says, My Lord, would he be male or female? Both will be written. In addition, his deeds, actions, death and livelihood will be recorded. Then his document of destiny is rolled and there shall be no addition to it or subtraction from it.” (Muslim)
Since the angel knows the sex, it is not part of the absolute knowledge of the unseen from which all creatures are barred. Based on this, the earlier scholars did not reprimand physicians who attempted, through their rather primitive means, to guess the sex of a fetus.
Given the above, there is no harm in trying to know the sex of the baby before its birth through fetal ultrasound.
Mufti Ebrahim Desai has also answered a question on this subject:
How does one reconcile what a scan shows (of a baby in the mother’s womb, its sex, etc.) with the Qur’aanic verse that says that Allah Ta’ala Knows what is in the wombs?
The verse of the Quran in reference is “And Allah knows what is in the wombs.” There are two key words in this verse, Ya’lamu which means that Allah knows. The other key word is Arhaam which means wombs. The knowledge of Allah is absolute in every sense. Absolute knowledge is without any medium or source. That is the case with the knowledge of Allah. He does not require any means or source for His knowledge as knowledge is His attribute. The information on scanning machines is not knowledge as that is through a source, the machine. At most it is a reflection of that which is in the womb.
Secondly, the knowledge of Allah is error-proof. He knows exactly what is the gender of the child. There can be no mistake about that. Errors in scan machines are well known and common.
Thirdly, the knowledge of Allah about what is in the wombs is not confined to the gender of the child. It is far beyond that. Allah knows everything about the child, every blood cell, every blood vessel, every tissue, every bone, the marrow in the bone, the life span, the feature and conduct of the child. Allah even knows what the child will do and whether the child will be a successful slave of Allah or not. Surely, no machine, rather all the machines of the world, cannot detect an iota of all this.
The second key word in the verse in Arhaam which means wombs. Allah claims to know all that which is in the wombs. A scan machine may scan one woman at a time. Allah knows at once everything of every womb of every woman that came in the past that is present and that which will come in the future. Can there be any such machine. Subhanallah, the knowledge of Allah is supreme and greatest. Allahu Akbar. Allah is the greatest.
and Allah Ta’ala Knows Best
A Warning About an Ugly Practice:
I should mention that some parents in certain countries sometimes perform an ultrasound scan in order to find out the sex (the gender) of the baby, and if it is a girl they might abort her. This is absolutely haram.
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani says about this:
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
1. It is in itself permitted to find out the gender of the baby; there is nothing, in itself, to deem it prohibited or disliked.
2. If, however, it is linked with ignorant ideas of gender preference, it would be disliked, and haram when this would lead to unlawful abortion.
And Allah alone gives success.