Paternity testing and Islam

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Paternity testing and Islam


Islam is a culture, not "just" a religion. It can usefully be considered to be a combination of a religion and a political manifesto. The latter includes aspects of Shari'ah (god-given, rather than secular) law, and is the basis of Islam's inherent inability to accept secular human rights such as sexual equality, leading to sexual inequality heavily biased in favour of men. The topic of pregnancy, and who was responsible, is an example. A pregnant woman or mother displays obvious evidence of sexual activity, while the father doesn't.

There is much criticism that maternity and paternity are not treated equally in Islam. This is both in theory (Shari'ah law), and practice (such as many cases that Britons would consider to be human rights abuses). For example, in Nigeria a woman was sentenced to death by stoning, but the alleged father could go free without a paternity test to prove or disprove his culpability: An Open Letter To President Olusegun Obasanjo Re: Ms. Safiya Hussaini. Apparently, her appeal suceeded and she was not stoned to death, but the inequality remains.

One of the problems with Shari'ah law is that it is slow, perhaps unable, to adapt to some advances in science and technology. This includes the use of technology to supplement or contradict human-provided evidence such as witness-evidence. Shari'ah law prescribed laws of evidence long before science and technology made vastly more reliable methods available, yet its laws of evidence haven't caught up. Islamic attitudes towards paternity testing are more than 1000 years out of date. (Islam, as presented by many influential muslims, is incompatible with the 21st century!)

Muslim Scriptures and Authorities
Islam source Commentary


Ijma (Consent) and Qiyas (Analogy/Reason)
The theory is that if the community of Muslims arrived at a decision it must be correct. What happens is that a committee (or religious scholars of the community) of Muslims will consider a problem in the light of decisions available through the ages of Islam and make a decision. In some cases, such decisions are expected to be universally acknowledged for the rest of time, as happened in the first four centuries of Islam. Thus the variant rulings have and continue to cause confusion. It is not surprising that there are some now who insist on the Qur'an and the Sunna of Muhammad only as authority.

When unusual circumstances arose, a deduction would be made from principles derived from a related incident in the life of Muhammad. For example, from the prophet's statement that the maintenance of a mother is the responsibility of the child's father (Qur'an 65:6), it is deduced that the father is also responsible for the child's maintenance. This method of analogy was called Qiyas.

How can decisions, taken before science was sufficiently developed, be valid for the rest of time?

Almost certainly, nothing derived from Muhammad's life is relevant to paternity testing!

Four Translations of the Quran

The Rights of Parents and Children in Islam
(The Prohibition of Denying Paternity; Attributing the Child to a Man Other Than the Child's Father; etc).

The Rights of Parents and Children in Islam

Is it permissible to consider the DNA test as a legal proof to establish paternity and prove crimes such as Zina? (There are many forms of Zina, but this is about the highest form. This is adultery, fornication, having sexual intercourse without being married to the person). Can the DNA be used as an independent proof? Can it be put in the same category of witnesses?

Sheikh `Abdul-Majeed Subh, states: "I would like to stress that DNA as well as the hereditary print are no more than supporting evidences. In other words, they can not be considered as independent legal evidences on their own. Thus, if we are to consider DNA as an evidence that is supposed to establish paternity or prove a crime such as Zina, then it must be supported by clear legal proofs such as witnesses or confession."

Witness statements and confessions are known to be unreliable! What is important is to construct a case from all of this less-than-perfect evidence.

FATWA: DNA: Can It Be a Sole Proof to Establish Paternity?

Telegraph India: "Toddler caught in paternity test crossfire"

Sheikh Muhammad Iqbal Nadvi, Imam of Calgary Mosque, Canada, and Former Professor at King Saud Univ., Saudi Arabia, adds: "The DNA testing can be used in Islamic Courts as a supporting evidence in the absence of four just witnesses. However, it cannot be the sole and only evidence to prove a huge crime like Zina which entails inflicting severe punishment on the criminal. The reason for not accepting DNA as a sole and complete evidence is that DNA testing cannot tell us whether the one who committed adultery did it willingly or unwillingly, be it the man or the woman."

But, where child support is concerned, it can be good evidence of who is the biological father. At least it should be accepted as good evidence for that!

Sheikh `Abdul-Khaleq Hasan Ash-Shareef, concludes: "First and foremost, I want to state that the crime of Zina is proved by one of two means: the evidence of four reliable witnesses or the confession of the adulterer or the fornicator. However, other things such as pregnancy and the like are merely signs or indications and are not qualified enough to serve as a legal proof. For instance, pregnancy does not necessarily denote fornication. Therefore, it should not be taken as evidence to prove the crime. The scholars state that the prescribed punishments (Hudud) are to be fended off for the least occurrence of suspicion. As far as DNA test is concerned, if it's proved by reliable physicians and experts that it certainty serves as a valid legal proof, then it is the role of Muslim scholars to decide how to deal with it."

Do those Muslim scholars understand the science and technology sufficiently? Do they understand Bayesian statistics well enough? Almost certainly not!

Mufti Muhammad Zakriya of Jamia Ashrafiya, Lahore strongly objects to the practice of conducting DNA tests to determine paternity. "Shariah does not recognise such tests as valid proof to determine the legitimacy of a child. DNA tests cannot replace the requirement of witnesses who must be present to prove the charges in question," he says. Zakariya goes on to say that allowing DNA testing facility to the general public would open a pandora's box and give birth to several ethical, moral and social issues. "Islam asks us to prohibit publicising one's sins. By adopting DNA tests as a method of determining paternity, we will end up propagating others' sins."

This statement simply demonstrates how out of date some Islamic opinion is!

It also shows how reluctant some muslims are to tackling those "ethical, moral and social issues".