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Islamic Perspectives on CRISPR/Cas9-Mediated Human Germline Gene Editing: A Preliminary Discussion

  • Noor Munirah IsaEmail author
  • Nurul Atiqah Zulkifli
  • Saadan Man
Original Research/Scholarship

Abstract

The recent development of CRISPR/Cas9 technology has rekindled the ethical debate concerning human germline modification that has begun decades ago. This inexpensive technology shows tremendous promise in disease prevention strategies, while raising complex ethical concerns about safety and efficacy of the technology, human dignity, tampering with God’s creation, and human genetic enhancement. Germline gene editing may result in heritable changes in the human genome, therefore the question of whether it should be allowed requires deep and careful discussion from various perspectives. This paper explores Islamic perspectives on the concerns raised and highlights the ethical principles in Islam that should be taken into consideration when assessing the permissibility of CRISPR/ Cas9-mediated human germline gene editing. As argued in this paper, human germline gene editing would be considered lawful for medical purpose under certain conditions. It should not be applied on humans until the safety and efficacy issues are resolved. Robust ethical guidelines and strict regulations are necessary to preserve human dignity and to prevent premature and misuse of the technology. Maqasid al-shariah’s principles of preservation of human life, lineage, and dignity and ‘preventing harm takes precedence over securing benefit’ are among the guiding principles in assessing the permissibility of CRISPR/Cas9-mediated human germline editing from an Islamic perspective. Further discussions are important to address the controversies as well as to explore the related ethical principles.

Keywords

Human germline gene editing CRISPR/Cas9 Ethical issues Islam Maqasid al-shariah Fatwa 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme under Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia (Grant Number: FP032-2016).

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noor Munirah Isa
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nurul Atiqah Zulkifli
    • 1
  • Saadan Man
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Science and Technology Studies, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia
  2. 2.Department of Fiqh and Usul, Academy of Islamic StudiesUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia

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