Human Cloning

by Prof.Dr. Omar Hassan Kasule Sr.

Cloning was achieved in sheep by transfer of a nucleus from the somatic cell of an adult animal into an egg whose nucleus had been removed. A live sheep was subsequently born (1, 2, 4). This process seems to be technically feasible in humans. In the foreseeable future some products of cloning may be available.

Cloning is not creation of new life from basic organic and non-organic matter. Creation of life de novo is the prerogative of God alone. Cloning starts with a living nucleus with its genetic characteristics (3). The product resulting from cloning is programmed by the DNA in the nucleus.

Human cloning although not yet achieved has already raised a lot of ethical controversies. The ethical debate on human cloning has been complicated be sensational media reporting. The public is not aware of the biological end ethical issues involved (4). The major ethical issues raised are: loss of human uniqueness and individuality, hazardous unexpected products from cloning, and criminal misuse of the cloning technology (2).

Cloning relates to a powerful human emotion of self-perpetuation. The desire to perpetuate their kind or continue living in some way is a very strong drive in humans. It is satisfied partly by the sexual reproductive process in which the person's identity continues in their offspring. The emotion is also obvious in animist beliefs in ghosts and ancestral spirits. Reincarnation is another interpretation of self-perpetuation. The ancient Egyptians preserved their dead as mummies in the hope they will live again. Many political leaders have tried to leave behind monuments so that the future generations may know about their achievements.

Cloning as a concept goes far beyond the natural method of human sexual reproduction. If human cloning is ever achieved in practice, it will not be the first exception to human sexual reproduction. The Prophet Adam had neither a father nor a mother. The Prophet Isa had a mother but no father. Asexual reproduction is common in the animal and plant kingdoms. Bacteria, viruses, and other micro-organisms reproduce asexually.

The issue of quality of life arises in the case of cloning if ever it becomes a reality. The product of cloning will not have the same quality as we know it in humans today. This is because a human is both matter and spirit. During the first trimester of intra-uterine development the soul, ruh, is inserted into the body by God. There is one ruh for each being. Thus the cloned product can not have a ruh and will therefore not be human being as we know. The product of cloning will have all the biological properties of the ordinary human being but will not have the spiritual qualities. Thus the life of the cloned product will be of little or no quality. We can only speculate how that cloned product will behave. The possibilities are frightening as the brave new world of biotechnology unfolds.

The Islamic tradition discourages speculative thinking about hypothetical events. Issues are discussed from the legal and ethical aspects after they have occurred. We therefore can not engage in a detailed discussion of cloning until it has occurred and we see its implications in practice.


  1. Brdicka-R: Human cloning. Do we have too much courage or not enough? New perspectives in medicine. Cas-Lek-Cesk. 1998 Jun 29; 137(13): 387-90
  2. Harris-J: "Goodbye Dolly?" The ethics of human cloning. J-Med-Ethics. 1997 Dec; 23(6): 353-60
  3. Blacksher-E: Cloning human beings. Responding to the National Bioethics Advisory Commission's Report. Hastings-Cent-Rep. 1997 Sep-Oct; 27(5): 6-9
  4. Hopkins-PD Bad copies. How popular media represent cloning as an ethical problem. Hastings-Cent-Rep. 1998 Mar-Apr; 28(2): 6-13
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