“A three-day-old human embryo is a collection of 150 cells called a blastocyst. There are, for the sake of comparison, more than 100,000 cells in the brain of a fly. If our concern is about suffering in this universe, it is rather obvious that we should be more concerned about killing flies than about killing three-day-old human embryos… Many people will argue that the difference between a fly and a three-day-old human embryo is that a three-day-old human embryo is a potential human being. Every cell in your body, given the right manipulations, every cell with a nucleus is now a potential human being. Every time you scratch your nose, you’ve committed a holocaust of potential human beings… Let’s say we grant it that every three-day-old human embryo has a soul worthy of our moral concern. First of all, embryos at this stage can split into identical twins. Is this a case of one soul splitting into two souls? Embryos at this stage can fuse into a chimera. What has happened to the extra human soul in such a case? This is intellectually indefensible, but it’s morally indefensible given that these notions really are prolonging scarcely endurable misery of tens of millions of human beings, and because of the respect we accord religious faith, we can’t have this dialogue in the way that we should. I submit to you that if you think the interests of a three-day-old blastocyst trump the interests of a little girl with spinal cord injuries or a person with full-body burns, your moral intuitions have been obscured by religious metaphysics.”— Sam Harris, on stem cell research.
Is Stem cell research haram?
Anynomous asked: is stem cell research haram?
this is an intriguing question, general but intriguing. firstly, we have to address what type of stem cells, as there is a variety, and then, what’s defined as “haram” and finally this will lead us to one’s belief of when life begins, that is when is a person a “person” and has human rights, so to speak.
there are various kinds of stem cells: embryonic, fetal, adult, amniotic, cord blood and induced pluripotent cells. now, we can get very technical with regards to the definition of each type, however I’ll hit on the part that I deem most important.
so, the embryonic stem cells are usually derived from blastocysts, which are fertilized eggs that are about four to five days old in humans, consisting of around 150 cells. they are categorized as pluripotent cells, meaning they can differentiate into any of the three developmental germ layers, and derive from totipotent cells.
there are only a few truly totipotent cells i.e. cells able to differentiate to any cell type, and construct a full viable organism is the product of the egg/sperm fusion and the products of the first several cell divisions.
fetal stem cells are the progenitor cells found in the organs of fetuses, and depending on how developed they are, maybe either pluripotent or multipotent. now, multipotent cells can differentiate into only a handful of cell types; specifically, a closely related cell type.
adult or somatic stem pluripotent cells can be derived from either children or adults. there aren’t many sources for that; the two are the umbilical cord (for children) and bone marrow (for children and adults). especially in adults, a lot of research has been done on adult pluripotent stem cells derived from the bone marrow, leading to medical advances in studies regarding liver diseases, heart diseases, liver diseases among many others. however, most of adult stem cells are multipotent and are designated to differentiate to a certain organ cell type, for example, dental pulp stem cells…they are, for lack of a better term, fairly restricted.
amniotic stem cells are derived from amniotic fluid and are deemed multipotent. this is the fluid contained in the amniotic sac of a pregnant female…that is, the fluid surrounding the fetus.
cord blood stem cells are multipotent cells that are found in the umbilical cord of fetuses/new borns.
induced pluripotent cells are cells that have been “reprogrammed” to reverse the clock so to speak, and produce pluripotent stem cells, originally derived from adult stem cells. so, mimicking various signaling pathways and the use of transcription factor proteins as well, some cells can be “told” or reprogrammed to pluripotency, from adult stem cells.
what is deemed “impermissible” or “haram” by christianity and Islam alike is the use of embryonic stem cells; that is, destroying a fertilized egg to utilize it’s cell population for research purposes.
now, it depends on your definition of when ”life begins” ; the unanimous view of muslim scholars is that life begins at conception, and that abortion is not permissible. therefore, neither is embryonic stem cell research because it destroys the embryo.
embryonic stem cells are derived from about 5 day old blastocysts, meaning fertilized eggs, that are not even close to being embedded to the wall of the uterus and by scientific data not deemed a viable “person if you will; that doesn’t happen until the 20-22 week of the pregnancy. to me personally, speaking as a scientist and knowing what I know, no stem cell research is ‘haram’ at all, but that’s just me.
if you are looking at the popular consensus, I would say all stem cell research not “embryonic” or destroying a fertilized eggs is deemed permissible according to previous precedent. since the other sources of stem cells do not destroy what religious entities deem “human life” or “a person” they are fair game and allowed, again according to precedent. I hope that answers your question.
Survey Question for my AP Gov class. Please respond Yes or No by clicking reply
Stem Cell Research: A stem cell is a “generic” cell that can make exact copies of itself indefinitely. In addition, a stem cell has the ability to produce specialized cells for various tissues in the body — such as heart muscle, brain tissue, etc.
Human Embryo: A fertilized egg that has begun cell division, before it has developed into a fetus (conception to 8 weeks)
Do support the US government funding stem cell research that uses human embryos?