Islam and Laws of Heredity
By: Muhammad Baqir Qarashi
Islam preceded the psychologists and the geneticists in referring to many effects and phenomena of heredity, proving its positive role in the individuals’ sound composition.
The Prophet (s) said, “The knave have been knave since they have been in their mothers’ abdomens, and the auspicious have been auspicious since they have been in their mothers’ abdomens.”
This prophetic saying indicates that the genetic elements give the fetuses either fortune -when the fathers’ virtuous qualities and tendencies are available- or ill fate in case their qualities and natures are evil. The contingent qualities are also genetically received. Providing the story of Noah the prophet, the holy Quran refers to this matter. God says:
And Noah said: My Lord! Leave not upon this land any dweller from among the unbelievers. For surely if Thou leave them they will lead astray Thy servants, and will not beget any but immoral ungrateful children.
This Quranic text indicates that the disbelievers’ offspring, who genetically receive their fathers’ ill qualities, will also inherit their convictions. It is reported that a man from Ansar complained before the Prophet (s) that his wife -who was his cousin- had given birth of a black baby while none of their forefathers was black. “You have ninety nine arteries,” answered the Prophet (s), “And she has ninety nine arteries. When these arteries combine, they will be in a state of disorder and each asks God the Exalted to associate with its like. This is surely your son. You may leave now. This baby must have come from one of her or your arteries.” The man took his wife’s hand and left.
This prophetic notice implies that sons can receive genetically even the most minute and the deepest qualities. Many Islamic rulings are legislated according to this fact.
First, Islam urges on looking upon the most accurate manners of women before they are taken in marriage. According to Islamic rulings, a great attention should be paid to women’s families and lineage so that any state of anticipated mental or physical handicap or deformity would be evaded. The Prophet (s) asserted the necessity of checking women before marriage. He said, “O people! Beware of the green-looking.” “What are the green-looking, God’s messenger?” some asked. “It is the beautiful women of evil source,” answered the Prophet (s).( Refer to Wasailu Shia: 14/29.
He also said, “Select for your sperms. The maternal uncle is one of the couple –in any sexual intercourse-.” “Marry your women to the suitable, and select for your sperms.”
The Imams emphasized on this point demandingly. Ibrahim al-Karkhi sought the advice of Imam as-Sadiq (a) in the question of his marriage. The Imam said, “You should check confidently the place you are going to choose for yourself and the one you are going to make a partner in your assets, and show your religion and open your secrets before him. If you insist, you then should choose a non-virgin lady that is known as moral and well-mannered.”
In another occasion, the Imam (a) said, “A woman is a necklace. You should select what you will put. Neither the good nor do the evil women have likes. The good women are not like gold and silver since they are preferred to gold and silver. The evil women are not like dust. They are lowlier than dust.”
Islam dislikes men who marry idiot women in order that families will be saved from decline. Imam as-Sadiq (a) relates Imam Ali’s saying, “Beware of marrying idiot women. The companionship of the she-idiot is an ordeal, and their sons are waste.”
In the same way, Islam warns against marrying insane women so that the society will not come upon irregular and unsound individuals. Imam al-Baqir (a) was asked whether it was appropriate to marry women after they had been loved. “No,” answered the Imam, “It is not undesirable to copulate with the insane bondmaid on condition that she would not have children.”
The Imams urged Muslims on testing and checking women before taking in marriage, for assuring whether such women or their families are empty of any mental or physical disability, lest such a disability will be common in the society.
Secondly, Islam stresses that women should identify precisely the men they choose as the life partners. This identification is the responsibility of the women’s guardians. Imam ar-Rida (a) told that his father related that the Prophet (s) said, “Matrimony is slavery. You will be slavering your daughters when you marry them; therefore, check the individuals you are going to give your daughters to in slavery.”
Islam warns against marrying the drunkard. The Prophet (s) said, “For those who marry their daughters to the drunkards, they are cutting off the relations of kinship.”
In modern medicine, it has been proven that sons receive genetically the effects of the intoxicants. Dr. Brogans says, “Alcoholism causes barrenness. Duncan reports the story of the alcoholic lady that could not be pregnant for years while she had no physiological problem at all. As she was treated from dipsomania for one year, she could bear a baby. The same thing is applied to men. The reason is that the alcoholic materials enfeeble the backbone and paralyzes the brain. The offspring of those who are poisoned by such drugs receive genetically these poisons. Hence, they are dangerous not only for the drunkards, but also for their descendants, nation, and mankind. It is also emphasized that the successors of the drunkards bear signs of structural frailty and may suffer serious disorders that lead to insanity, general paralysis, or barrenness. Genetic effects can kill the fetus or the newborn. Thus, families may entirely extinct in two or three generations. Moreover, the offspring of the drunkards may suffer painful deformities, such as skull defects, shortness, and amentia. They may also suffer from retardation of the mental powers, such as cenotaph defects, childishness shortcoming, idiocy, hysteria, and others. Master physicians deemed unlawful to marry the drunkards for the previous serious dangers that may occur after marriage.
The alcoholic materials that are consumed by the she-drunkards move to the blood of the fetuses through the placentas inside the uteri. It has been proven that the suckling babies receive the alcoholic materials.
Psychologists say that amentia and states of hesitation may affect the drunkards. They also advice women to test such men before combining with them in matrimony, otherwise they will suffer many disasters and calamities. Women are inaccurate, to great extent, if they believe they will be able enough to change such habits after marriage. They have also proven that maladjustment is one of the reasons of dipsomania. The male drunkards easily push themselves to wrongdoing, and the female drunkards are easily led to prostitution. Dipsomania incites the spouses to break the barriers and challenge their consciences; thus, it becomes easy for them to breach the matrimonial pledges and lead such social bonds to failure by the corrosion of the family rules.
Islam –many years before modern science- explored and referred to this point. It has warned against giving women in marriage to the drunkards so that the coming generations will be saved against such disabilities and defects.
In like fashion, Islam bans women from marrying the ill-natured ones so that their ill manners will not move to the coming generations. Bashar al-Wasiti sought Imam ar-Rida’s advice when an ill-natured man asked for his daughter’s hand. The Imam told him not to give her to the ill-natured individuals. Books of the Islamic heritage are full of reports that urge women on identifying the men that are expected to be their husbands before agreeing to marriage, so as not to give birth of evil offspring.
Third, as an Islamic rule, both spouses have the choice of revoking the matrimonial contracts if any of them is proven to have a mental irregularity, a physical disability, or other defects that the jurists identify. Imam as-Sadiq (a) said, “Matrimony is revocable in cases of leucoderma, leprosy, insanity, and cystocele.”
This ruling saves the Islamic society from such diseases that cause retardation and social weakness. The jurisprudential bases of Islam sustain the modern articles that the international health organizations have declared. The spouses’ blood, for example, should be analyzed before marriage for recognizing whether any of them is affected by sexual diseases such as rrhoea, syphilis, or others that are the main cause of the babies’ blindness or venereal diseases. The calamities of such diseases are inherited genetically causing mental and physical disabilities beside the other party’s misery, suffering, and other mental problems that deprive of a content life.