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CONTENTS

Introduction 2 Embryology: Science and Revelation 4 Definitions of Key Stages of Pregnancy 5 Fertilization 7 Sex Determination 8 Embryonic Period 8 Initial Stages of Embryogenesis The Developing Embryo in the Womb Changes by Week of Gestation The Foetal Period 19 Changes by Weeks of Gestation Ethics 23 Ethical Foundation 23 Fundamental Issues in Human Embryo research 25 The Question of Soul Recommendations of the Experts 30 Conclusions 32 Bibliography 34

In the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful


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Read! In the Name of thy Lord and Cherisher Who created - Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful He Who taught (the use of) the pen, Taught man that which he knew not Nay, but man doth transgress all bounds In that he looketh upon himself as self-sufficient Verily, to thy Lord is the return (of all) (Al-`Alaq 96: 1 - 81)

HUMAN EMBRYOLOGY, RESEARCH AND ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS

1 Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Quran Text, Translation and Commentary, New Revised Edition, (Amana Corporation, Brentwood, Maryland, USA, 1989), p1672-1674.

INTRODUCTION The world of embryology has never been as sophisticated and complicated as it is today. The proliferation of researches, the resulting body of information, the exciting and attractive possible applications - both productive and counterproductive to humanity and the ensuing complex ethical considerations are simply mind-boggling. There are heated debates in the western world between prolife activists and pro-choice advocates. There have been large grants in the West dedicated towards the pursuit of embryology and the studies of issues that come with it. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in the United Kingdom, for example, initiated a project in 2004 that focused upon five main topics: the welfare of the child, single embryo transfer, the rise of audit, managing mistakes and errors and the development of tests for embryo viability. The ESRC explored professionals (researchers, clinicians, scientists, nurses, counsellors and administrators) accounts of their values and how they actively negotiated ethical codes and rules in the course of their day-to-day work 2. In their
conclusion, the researchers commented that the ambivalence amongst practitioners about the

ethics of their decisions and about ethical scrutiny and controls of their work and their patients though disconcerting, was a necessary condition of ethical practice in the complex and robust field of embryological science and medicine. The physician who developed the in-vitro fertilisation3 technique, Robert G. Edwards, in writing for the case of embryo experimentation agrees that there are major ethical considerations in arguing about the limit to research on human embryos. However, after taking into considerations the myriads
2 Professor Anne Kerr (School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds) and Professor Henry Leese (Department of Biology, University of York), Doing Embryo Ethics: Safety and Efficacy in Research and Practice, Science in Society, <http://www.scisoc.net/SciSoc/Projects/Genomics/Doing%2Bembryo%2Bethics.htm> (accessed April 2nd 2011). 3 Robert Edward pioneered the IVF technique that helped in the successful birth of the worlds first Test-tube Baby Louise Brown in 1978. He won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

of possibilities that such research may bring about in bettering the quality of life, he has taken a consequentialist viewpoint for justifying research on embryos4 especially so in light of the States and Churchs approved abortion of foetuses in the hundreds of thousands. Dr. Edward remains on one end of the balancing pole. On the other end, Dr. John Marshall5 who generally is in full support of research; stands as one with the professional researchers minority in position against experiments on embryos, with full acknowledgement of the possible loss of positive medical advancements that may come with such research. Both physicians have come to their stands in full light of their vast knowledge and expertise in embryology; as well as their personal moral and ethical bearings. Where does the public rest in between the extremes of this ethical pole? What is the position of the Muslims physicians, scientists and researchers in guiding embryological advances and practices in their countries? Embryo research is crucial in building greater understanding of the nature of the developing embryo so that freak medical mishaps such as graphically exhibited by the Thalidomide Babies6 may be averted. However, since research on embryos practically results in killing it, what should be our ethical stand in guarding the sanctity of human embryos, vis-a-vis human life? There has been a proposed Islamic Code of Medical Professional Ethics adopted by the Islamic Medical Association in 19777, which states, among others that human life starts at the time of conception, and that human life cannot be taken away except by God or with His permission. Can this simple statement stand regardless of the different circumstances that one may come to face with? Should there
4 Robert Edward, Ethics and Embryology: The Case For Experimentation, Anthony Dyson & John Harris (editors), Experiments on Embryos, (Routledge, London, 1991), p. 51. 5 John Marshall, The Case Against Experimentation, Experiments on Embryos, (Routledge, London, 1991), p. 62. 6 In the period between from 1950s and early 1960s, Doctors prescribed the drug Thalidomide a sedative and painkiller to expectant mothers to alleviate their morning sickness. During the same period thousands of babies were born severely limbless. It was later confirmed that the drug caused severe deformities in babies thus the terminology Thalidomide Babies. 7 Abdul Rahman C. Amine, M.D. and Ahmed Elkadi, M.D., Islamic Code Of Medical Professional Ethics, Islam USA (2008), <http://www.islam-usa.com/index.php? option=com_content&view=article&id=274&Itemid=241>, (Accessed April 3rd 2011).

be any exceptions? Or perhaps more careful analyses are needed on embryological data, substantiated by the Almighty Gods revealed verses in the Quran before one can be certain that the above should be an accurate ethical stand as far as embryology in Islam is concerned. This paper is a novice attempt in understanding embryology from scientific data in the light of current understanding of the (relevant) verses of the Quran in an effort to identify with a valid basis of ethics in embryology, in line with the spirit of Islamic Science.

EMBRYOLOGY: SCIENCE AND REVELATION

DEFINITIONS OF KEY STAGES OF PREGNANCY Prenatal or antenatal development is the process in which a human embryo or foetus gestates during pregnancy, from fertilization until birth. Often, the terms foetal development, or embryology are used in a similar sense. After fertilization the embryogenesis starts. In humans, when embryogenesis finishes, by the end of the 10th week of gestational age, the precursors of all the major organs of the body have been created. The following period, the foetal period, is described both topically i.e. by organ development, and strictly chronologically by a list of major occurrences by weeks of gestational age.

Figure 1: Stages during Pregnancy8. Weeks and months are numbered by gestation.
8 Mikael Hggstrm, Prenatal Development, (2009), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prenatal_development, (accessed April 1st 2010).

Figure 1 above shows the stages during prenatal development, consisting of the first trimester, the second trimester and the third trimester according to the common lay-men terminology; for the first, second and last three months into gestation. More accurately, embryogenesis9 is the stage between 3 to 10 weeks in gestation (marked in green) and foetal development is the stage between 11 weeks to birth. The perinatal period is from 22 completed weeks (154 days) of gestation to 7 completed days after birth. The antepartum period usually refers to the period between the 24th to 26th weeks of gestational age until birth.

FERTILIZATION Now let man but think, from what he is created! He is created from a drop emitted Proceeding from between the back bone and the ribs. (At-Tariq 86:5-7) In embryonic stages, the reproductive organs of the male and female, i.e. the testicles and the ovaries, begin their development near the kidney between the spinal column and the eleventh and twelfth ribs. Later they descend; the female gonads (ovaries) stop in the pelvis while the male gonads (testicles) continue their descent before birth to reach the scrotum through the inguinal canal. Even in the adult after the descent of the reproductive organ, these organs receive their nerve supply and blood supply from the abdominal aorta, which is in the area between the back bone (spinal column) and the ribs. The Quran mentions no less than twelve times that the human being is created from 'nufah', which means a minute quantity or a drop of liquid. An example is, From a sperm-drop - nufah: He hath created him, and then mouldeth him in due proportions. (Abasa 80:19) The Quran also mentions that human beings are created from sullah - quintessence of liquid:

9 European Regional Office, World Health Organization, Definitions and Indicators in Family Planning. Maternal & Child Health and Reproductive9 Health, WHA20.19, WHA43.27, Article 23, (WHO Geneva, 2001).

And made his progeny from a quintessence - sullah of the nature of a fluid despised. (As-Sajdah 32:8) The Arabic word sullah means quintessence or the best part of a whole. We have come to know now that only one single spermatozoan that penetrates the ovum is required for fertilization, out of the several millions produced by man. Sullah may also refer to male10 and female germinal fluids containing gametes. When semen is deposited in the vagina, the spermatozoa travel through the cervix and body of the uterus and into the Fallopian tubes. Both ovum (egg cell) and sperm are gently extracted from their environments in the process of fertilization. Fertilization of the ovum usually takes place in the Fallopian tube. Many sperm struggle to penetrate the thick protective shell-like barrier that surrounds the ovum. The first sperm that penetrates fully into the egg donates its genetic material (DNA). Since only one out of an average of three million sperms is required for fertilising the ovum, approximately only 0.0000003% of the quantity of sperms that is ejaculated is required for fertilisation.

Figure 211: An Electron Microscope image of a sperm fertilizing an ovum.

10 Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Quran Text, Translation and Commentary, New Revised Edition, (Amana Corporation, Brentwood, Maryland, USA, 1989), p 1047. 11 Author unknown, Image from http://www.pdimages.com/web9.htm, (accessed April 1st 2010).

The egg then polarizes, repelling any additional sperm. The resulting combination is called a zygote. In another verse in the Quran, God says, Verily We created Man from a drop of mingled sperm - nufatun amshjin, in order to try him: So We gave him (the gifts), of Hearing and Sight. (Al-Insan 76:2) The Arabic word nufatun amshjin means mingled liquids. According to some commentators of the Quran, mingled liquids refers to the male or female agents. After mixture of male and female gamete, the zygote still remains as nufah. Therefore nufatun amshjin, i.e. a minute quantity of mingled fluids refers to the male and female gametes (germinal fluids or cells) and part of the surrounding fluids.

SEX DETERMINATION Prior to fertilization, each ovum contains a complete human genome, including a single X but no Y chromosome. Likewise, each spermatozoon contains a complete set of autosomes and a single sex chromosome, either X or Y. The resulting human zygote is similar to the majority of somatic cells because it contains two copies of the genome in a diploid set of chromosomes. One set of chromosomes came from the nucleus of the ovum and the second set from the nucleus of the sperm. If the spermatozoon contributes a Y chromosome then the zygote will develop as a male. The sex of a foetus is therefore determined by the nature of the sperm and not the ovum. The sex of the child, whether female or male, depends on whether the 23rd pair of chromosomes is XX or XY respectively. Unlike the X chromosome, the Y chromosome contains very little genetic information. However it does contain a gene, SRY, which will switch on androgen production at a later stage, leading to the development of a male body type. In contrast, the mitochondrial genetic information of the zygote comes entirely from the mother via the ovum. That He did create in pairs- male and female, from a seed when lodged (in its place) nufatin ia tumna '. (An-Najm 53:45-46)

The Arabic word 'nufah' means a minute quantity of liquid and 'tumna' means planted; or according to other commentator, it means emitted i.e., from a sperm-drop when it is emitted thus indicating the gender of the embryo being brought forth by the sperm, not the ovum.

EMBRYONIC PERIOD The Initial Stages of Human Embryogenesis The embryonic period in humans begins at fertilization (penetration of the egg by the sperm) and continues until the end of the 10th week of gestation (8th week by embryonic age). The human zygote spends the next few days traveling down the Fallopian tube. Meanwhile it divides several times to form a ball of cells called a morula. Further cellular division is accompanied by the formation of a small cavity between the cells. This stage is called a blastocyst. Up to this point there is no growth in the overall size of the embryo, so each division produces successively smaller cells. The blastocyst reaches the uterus at roughly the fifth day after fertilization. It is here that lysis of the zona pellucida, a glycoprotein shell, occurs. This is required so that the trophectoderm cells, which give rise to extraembryonic structures such as the placenta, of the blastocyst can come into contact with the luminal epithelial cells of the endometrium. It then adheres to the uterine lining and becomes embedded in the endometrial cell layer. This process is also called implantation. The inner cell mass forms the embryo, while the outer cell layers form the membranes and placenta. 12 Rapid growth occurs and the embryo's main external features begin to take form. This process is called differentiation, which produces the varied cell types (such as blood cells, kidney cells, and nerve cells). A spontaneous abortion, or miscarriage, in the first trimester of pregnancy is usually13 due to major genetic mistakes or abnormalities in the developing embryo. During this critical period (most
12 Keith L. Moore & T. V. N. Persaud, Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects, 7th Edition, (Saunders Elsevier, Philadelphia, 2008), p. 23 -35 13 Ibid.

of the first trimester), the developing embryo is also susceptible to toxic exposures, such as: (1) Alcohol, certain drugs, and other toxins that cause birth defects, such as Fetal alcohol syndrome and Thalidomide14 syndrome; (2) Infection (such as rubella or cytomegalovirus); (3) Radiation from xrays or radiation therapy; and (4) Nutritional deficiencies such as lack of folate which contributes to spina bifida.

Figure 315: The Initial Stages of Human Embryogenesis


14 i.e. Thalidomide Babies who were born limbless due to the drug Thalidomide prescribed to expectant mothers during the first few weeks of pregnancy to alleviate morning sickness. 15 Zephyris (2010), The first few weeks of embryogenesis in humans. Beginning at the fertilised egg, ending with the closing of the neural tube. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:HumanEmbryogenesis.svg>, (Accessed April 2nd, 2011).

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The Developing Embryo In The Womb He makes you, in the wombs of your mothers, in stages, one after another, in three veils of darkness. Such is Allah, your Lord and Cherisher: to Him belongs (all) dominion. (AzZumar 39:6) From embryological point of view16, "The three veils of darkness" may refer to: (l) the anterior abdominal wall; (2) the uterine wall; and (3) the amniochorionic membrane.
The anterior abdominal wall

The uterine wall

The amniotic membrane

Figure 417: Drawing of the section of a female's abdomen and pelvis showing a foetus in utero. Then We placed him as a drop nufah in a place of rest. Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood alaqah then of that clot We made a (foetus) lump mudghah then we made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then we developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create! (Al-Muminun 23:13-14) Earlier, the drop or nufah has been interpreted as the sperm or spermatozoon, but a more meaningful interpretation would be the zygote which divides to form a blastocyst which is implanted in the uterus (a place of rest"). The zygote forms by the union of a mixture of the sperm and the ovum. Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood alaqah. Dr Moore attributes the word alaqah to be
16 Keith L. Moore, A Scientist's Interpretation of References to Embryology in the Qur'an, The Journal of the Islamic Medical Association, Vol.18, Jan-June 1986, p.15-16 17 Keith L. Moore, A Scientist's Interpretation of References to Embryology in the Qur'an, The Journal of the Islamic Medical Association, Vol.18, Jan-June 1986, pp.15-16.

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akin to a leech or bloodsucker.18 This is an appropriate description of the human embryo from days 724 when it clings to the endometrium of the uterus, in the same way that a leech clings to the skin. Just as the leech derives blood from the host, the human embryo derives blood from the decidua or pregnant endometrium. It is remarkable how much the embryo of 23-24 days resembles a leech19.

Figure 520 : Drawing of a leech (top) in comparison to the human embryo at 7 24 days (bottom). (Also refer to Figure 3, particularly to the embryo at Day 23.) In the early part of the fourth week, the embryo is just visible to the unaided eye because it is smaller than a kernel of wheat. "Then of that clot We made a (foetus) lump mudghah, a (chewed)

lump." (23:14). The Arabic word mudghah means "chewed substance or chewed lump." Toward the end of the fourth week, the human embryo looks somewhat like a chewed lump of flesh. The chewed appearance results from the somites which resemble teeth marks. The somites represent the beginnings or primordia of the vertebrae.

18 Ibid. 19 Ibid 20 Keith L. Moore, A Scientist's Interpretation of References to Embryology in the Qur'an, The Journal of the Islamic Medical Association, Vol.18, Jan-June 1986, pp.15-16.

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Figure 621 Left is a model of the human embryo which has the appearance of chewed flesh. Right is a drawing of a 28 day-old human embryo showing several bead-like somites which resemble the teeth marks in the model shown to the left. "Then We made out of the chewed lump, bones, and clothed the bones in flesh." (23:14) This continuation of Sura 23:14 indicates that out of the chewed lump stage, bones and muscles form. This is in accordance with embryological development. First the bones form as cartilage models and then the muscles (flesh) develop around them from the somatic mesoderm. "Then We developed out of it another creature." This next part of Sura 23:14 implies that the bones and muscles result in the

formation of another creature. This may refer to the human-like embryo that forms by the end of the eighth week. At this stage it has distinctive human characteristics and possesses the primordia of all the internal and external organs and parts.22 After the eighth week, the human embryo is called a foetus. This may be the new creature to which the verse refers. But He fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him something of His spirit. And He gave you (the faculties of) hearing and sight and feeling (and understanding): little thanks do ye give! (As-Sajdah32:9) This part of Sura 32:9 indicates that the special senses of hearing, seeing, and feeling develop in this order. The primordia of the internal ears appear before the beginning of the eyes, and the brain (the site of understanding) differentiates last. O mankind! if ye have a doubt about the Resurrection, (consider) that We created you out of dust, then out of sperm - nufah, then out of a leech-like clot alaqah, then out of a morsel of flesh - mughah, partly formed and partly unformed, in order that We may manifest (our power) to you; and We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term, then do We bring you out as babes, then (foster you) that ye may reach your age of full strength; and some of you are called to die, and some are sent back to the feeblest old age, so that they know nothing after having known (much), and (further), thou seest the earth barren and lifeless, but when We pour down rain on it, it is stirred (to life), it swells, and it puts forth every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs). (Al-Haj 22:5)
21 Ibid 22 Keith L. Moore, A Scientist's Interpretation of References to Embryology in the Qur'an, The Journal of the Islamic Medical Association, Vol.18, Jan-June 1986, pp.15-16.

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...then out of a morsel of flesh - mughah, partly formed and partly unformed This part of Sura 22:5 seems to indicate that the embryo is composed of both differentiated and undifferentiated tissues. For example, when the cartilage bones are differentiated, the embryonic connective tissue or mesenchyme around them is undifferentiated. It later differentiates into the muscles and ligaments attached to the bones. "And We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term." This next part

of Sura 22:5 seems to imply that God determines which embryos will remain in the uterus until full term. It is well known that many embryos abort during the first month of development, and that only about 30% of zygotes that form, develop into foetuses that survive until birth23.

Changes by Weeks of Gestation Gestational age is the time that has passed since the onset of the last menstruation, which generally or as standard occurs 2 weeks before the actual fertilization. Embryonic age, in contrast measures the actual age of the embryo or foetus from the time of fertilization. Nevertheless, menstruation has historically been the only means of estimating embryonic / foetal age, and is still the presumed measure if not else specified. However, the actual duration between last menstruation and fertilization may in fact differ from the standard 2 weeks by several days. Thus, the first week of embryonic age is already week three counting with gestational age. Furthermore, the number of the week is two more than the actual age of the embryo / foetus. For example, the embryo is 1 whole weeks old during the 1st week after fertilization.24 Table 1 below outlines the development of the embryo according to its gestational and embryonic age.

23 Keith L. Moore, A Scientist's Interpretation of References to Embryology in the Qur'an, The Journal of the Islamic Medical Association, Vol.18, Jan-June 1986, pp.15-16. 24 Keith L. Moore & T. V. N. Persaud, Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects, 7th Edition, (Saunders Elsevier, Philadelphia, 2008), p. 2-8.

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Table 1: Embryonic Development in the different weeks into Gestation and Fertilization Week Number Gestational Age 0 to 1 (whole) weeks old. 12 114 days from last menstruat ion. Embryonic Age -2 to -1 weeks old.

That is, week 12 of gestational age are merely theoretical extrapolations of embryonic age, since the fertilization hasn't actually occurred yet.

Table 1(continued): Embryonic Development in the different weeks into Gestation and Fertilization

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Week Number

Gestational Age

Embryonic Age Week 1. 17 days from fertilization.

Day 1: Fertilization of the ovum to form a new human organism, the human zygote.25 2 (whole) weeks old. 3 1521 days from last menstruat ion. Day 1.5-3: The zygote undergoes mitotic cellular divisions, but does not increase in size. This mitosis is also known as cleavage. A hollow cavity forms marking the blastocyst stage.26 Day 4-5: The blastocyst contains only a thin rim of trophoblast cells and a clump of cells at one end known as the "embryonic pole" which include embryonic stem cells.27 Day 5-6: The embryo hatches from its protein shell (zona pellucida) and performs implantation onto the endometrial lining of the mother's uterus.

Then We placed him as a drop nufah in a place of rest. (23:13)

If separation into identical twins occurs, 1/3 of the time it will happen before day 5.28

Week 2. 1 week old. 814 days from fertilization.

3 weeks old.

25 Keith L. Moore & T. V. N. Persaud, Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects, 7th Edition, (Saunders Elsevier, Philadelphia, 2008), p. 23 -29 26 Ibid 27 Ibid 28 Scott F. Gilbert, Developmental Biology, (Sunderland, Mass: Sinauer Associates, 2000), p.

Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood alaqah (23:14)

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Table 1(continued): Embryonic Development in the different weeks into Gestation and Fertilization

29 William J. Larsen, Human Embryology. (Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2001) 30 Ibid

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Week Number

Gestational Age

Embryonic Age Week 3. 2 weeks old. 1521 days from fertilization31.

Day 16: A notochord forms in the center of the embryonic disk. Gastrulation commences. 4 weeks old. 2935 days from last menstruat ion. Day 18: A neural groove (future spinal cord) forms over the notochord with a brain bulge at one end. Neuromeres appear. Day 20: Somites, the divisions of the future vertebra, form. Primitive heart tube is forming. Vasculature begins to develop in embryonic disc. ... then of that clot We made a lump mudghah then we made out of that lump bones (23:14) ...then out of a morsel of flesh - mughah, partly formed and partly unformed (22:5) The embryo is composed of both differentiated and undifferentiated tissues. For example, when the cartilage bones are differentiated, the embryonic connective tissue or mesenchyme around them is undifferentiated. It later differentiates into the muscles and ligaments attached to the bones.

Week 4. 3 weeks old. 2228 days from fertilization.

... And clothed the bones with flesh; then we developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create! (23:14) 5 weeks old. 3642 days from last

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31 Ibid

The embryo measures 4 mm (1/8 inch) in length and begins to curve into a C shape. The heart bulges, further develops, and begins to beat in a regular rhythm. Septum primum appear. 32 Branchial arches, grooves which will form structures of the face and

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Table 1(continued): Embryonic Development in the different weeks into Gestation and Fertilization

32 Ibid

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Week Number

Gestational Age

Embryonic Age Week 5. 4 weeks old. 2935 days from fertilization.

6 weeks old. 4349 days from last menstruati on.

The embryo measures 8 mm (1/4 inch) in length. Lens pits and optic cups form the start of the developing eye. Nasal pits form. The brain divides into 5 vesicles, including the early telencephalon. Leg buds form and hands form as flat paddles on the arms. Rudimentary blood moves through primitive vessels connecting to the yolk sac and chorionic membranes. The metanephros, precursor of the definitive kidney, starts to develop.33

Week 6. 5 weeks old. 3642 days from fertilization. 7 weeks old. 5056 days from last menstruati on.

The embryo measures 13 mm (1/2 inch) in length. Lungs begin to form. The brain continues to develop. Arms and legs have lengthened with foot and hand areas distinguishable. The hands and feet have digits, but may still be webbed. The gonadal ridge begins to be perceptible. The lymphatic system begins to develop. Main development of external genitalia starts. Figure 734: 5 weeks old embryo.

33 Wagner F, Erdsov B, Kylarov D. Degradation Phase of Apoptosis During the Early Stages of Human Metanephros Development. (University Palacky Olomouc Czech Republic, 2004): 2556. 34 Ed Uthman (2001) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/euthman/304334264> , accessed April 1st 2011

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Table 1(continued): Embryonic Development in the different weeks into Gestation and Fertilization

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Week Number

Gestational Age

Embryonic Age Week 7. 6 weeks old. 4349 days from fertilization.

The embryo measures 18 mm (3/4 inch) in length. Fetal heart tone (the sound of the heart beat) can be heard using doppler. Nipples and hair follicles begin to form. Location of the elbows and toes are visible. Spontaneous limb movements may be detected by ultrasound A l l

8 weeks old. 5763 days from last menstruat ion.

essential organs have at least begun. The vitelline duct normally closes Figure 835: Embryo at 6 weeks after fertilization.

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THE FOETAL PERIOD The foetal period begins at the end of the 10th week of gestation (8th week of development). Since the precursors of all the major organs are created by this time, the foetal period is described both by organ and by a list of changes by weeks of gestational age. Each organ has its own development. This includes the developments of the (1) circulatory system and the heart; (2) digestive system including tooth; (3) endocrine system; (4) integumentary system; (5) lymphatic system; (6) muscular system; (7) nervous system; (8) urinary and reproductive system including gonads; and (9) respiratory system. Because the precursors of the organs are formed, the developing foetus is not as sensitive to damage from environmental exposures as the embryo. Instead, toxic exposures often cause physiological abnormalities or minor congenital malformation.

Changes by Weeks of Gestation From the 8th week until birth (around 38 weeks), the developing organism is called a foetus. The foetus is not as sensitive to damage from environmental exposures as the embryo, and toxic exposures often cause physiological abnormalities or minor congenital malformation. All major structures are

35 Dr. Vilas Gayakwad, A six week embryonic age or eight week gestational age intact Embryo, found in a Ruptured Ectopic pregnancy case (26 February 2010), < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Human_Embryo.JPG>, (Accessed April 1st 2010) 36 Ed Uthman, MD, 9-Week Human Embryo from Ectopic Pregnancy (7th week post ovulation) (June 14th 2007) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/euthman/548063929/> (Accessed April 2nd, 2011

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already formed in the foetus, but they continue to grow and develop.37 Table 2 shows the developments in the different weeks.

Table 2: Foetal Development in the different weeks into Gestation and Fertilization

37 P Keith L. Moore & T. V. N. Persaud, Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects, 7th Edition, (Saunders Elsevier, Philadelphia, 2008), p. 62-70

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Week Number

Gestational Age

Embryonic Age Weeks 810. 79 weeks old.

10 12 9 11 weeks old

Embryo measures 3080 mm (1.23.2 inches) in length. Ventral and dorsal pancreatic buds fuse during the 8th week. Intestines rotate. Facial features continue to develop. The eyelids are more developed but closed and will not reopen until about the 28th week. The external features of the ear begin to take their final shape. The head comprises nearly half of the foetus' size. The face is well formed. Tooth buds, which will form the baby teeth, appear. The limbs are long and thin. The foetus can make a fist with its fingers. Genitals appear well differentiated. Red blood cells are produced in the liver.

Weeks 1114. 1013 weeks old.

But He fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him something of His spirit. And He gave you (the faculties of) hearing and sight and feeling (and understanding): little thanks do ye give! (As-Sajdah32:9)

13 - 16

12 15 weeks old

The foetus reaches a length of about 15 cm (6 inches). A fine hair called lanugo develops on the head. Foetal skin is almost transparent. More muscle tissue and bones have developed, and the bones become harder. The foetus makes active movements. Sucking motions are made with the mouth. Meconium is made in the intestinal tract. The liver and pancreas produce fluid secretions.
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Table 2 (continued): Foetal Development in the different weeks into Gestation and Fertilization

38 Mazza V, Falcinelli C, Paganelli S, (June 2001). Sonographic Early Fetal Gender Assignment: A Longitudinal Study In Pregnancies After In Vitro Fertilization. Ultrasound Obstetric Gynaecology 17 (6): 5136.

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Week Number

Gestational Age

Embryonic Age Week 17. 16 weeks old.

19

18 weeks old

The foetus reaches a length of 20 cm (8 inches). Lanugo covers the entire body. Eyebrows and eyelashes appear. Nails appear on fingers and toes. The foetus is more active with increased muscle development. The mother and others can feel the foetus moving. The foetal heartbeat can be heard with a stethoscope.

Week 21. 20 weeks old.

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22 weeks old

The foetus reaches a length of 28 cm (11.2 inches), weighs about 925g. Eyebrows and eyelashes are well formed. All of the eye components are developed. The foetus has a hand and startle reflex. Footprints and fingerprints continue forming. Alveoli (air sacs) are forming in lungs.

Week 25. 24 weeks old.

27 26 weeks old

The foetus reaches a length of 38 cm (15 in), weighs about 1.2 kg. The brain develops rapidly. The nervous system develops enough to control some body functions. The eyelids open and close. The cochleae are now developed, though the myelin sheaths in neural portion of the auditory system will continue to develop until 18 months after birth. The respiratory system, while immature, has developed to the point where gas exchange is possible.
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Table 2 (continued): Foetal Development in the different weeks into Gestation and Fertilization

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Week Number

Gestational Age

Embryonic Age Week 29. 28 weeks old.

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30 weeks old

The foetus reaches a length of about 3843 cm (1517 inches), weighs about 1.5 kg. The amount of body fat rapidly increases. Rhythmic breathing movements occur, but lungs are not fully mature. Thalamic brain connections, which mediate sensory input, form. Subsequently, the sense of sight is developed and by the 28th week, the retina becomes sensitive to light.

"It is He Who has created For you (the faculties of) hearing, sight, feeling and understanding: little thanks It is ye give!" (23:78)

Bones are fully developed, but are still soft and pliable. The foetus begins storing a lot of iron, calcium and phosphorus.

Week 33. 32 weeks old.

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34 weeks old

The foetus reaches a length of about 4048 cm (1619 inches), weighs about 2.5 to 3 kg. Body fat increases. Lanugo begins to disappear. Fingernails reach the end of the fingertips. A baby born at 36 weeks has a high chance of survival, but may require medical interventions.

Weeks 3437. 3336 weeks old.

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ETHICS

Ethics as a branch of knowledge is a science that deals with both what is right and wrong, that investigates the right conduct of human external behaviour which stems forth from the human mind. Ethics concerns itself on two fronts: the knowledge dimension and human behaviour, thence it deals with the issues of corrections in the thinking, production, dissemination and implication of knowledge. Bio-ethics is a science that applies the principles of ethics in bio-technology, whilst ethics in embryology is a branch of bio-ethics in the field of embryology.

ETHICAL FOUNDATION Human is composed of soul and body. The soul is the core of human being; it is of divine spiritual entity of great subtlety lafa rabbaniyya raniyya.39 Al-Ghazl uses the trems qalb, r, nafs and aql to represent the soul though each term stands on its own meaning. The body, the vehicle of the soul, is of finite material origin and a mere instrument for acquiring provision and perfection. The body is necessary for the soul in the worldly life, and care must be taken of it. Though separate in substance, the soul and the body unite through the heart, the first channel of the souls use of the body. The place of the heart is evident throughout Al-Ghazls work where he stresses on its purification, tazkiyatu al-nafs.

39 Al-Ghazli, The Book of Knowledge: Being A Translation with Notes of The Kitb al-Ilm of AlGhazzlis Ihy Ulm Al-Dn, trans. Nabih Amin Faris, ed. Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, (Lahore: Kashmiri Bazar, 2003). Imam Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum-Id-Din (The Book of Religious Learnings), Vol. 1, Trans. Al-Haj Maulana Fazlul Karim, (New Delhi: Kitab Bavan, 1982).

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Humans are equipped to derive knowledge from two sources: (i) the faculties of senses and reason allow man to know the material world in which he lives; and (ii) the divine revelation and inspiration which enable him to discover the hidden world. These two types of knowledge are by no means equal, whether with respect to their source, method or reliability. True knowledge can only be unveiled once the heart has been cleansed and the self cultivated through learning and exercise of the teachings of the Quran. The more the self comprehends such knowledge, the better it knows God, the closer it comes to Him, and the greater is the happiness of man. Likewise, the society is completely subject to the authority and guidance of God; with no other objective but to uphold the words of God and to provide the opportunity for people to serve and please Him. Without going into the details of Al-Ghazalis classifications of knowledge, he distinguishes
knowledge derived through sensory and rational perceptions into three distinct categories: that which is (i) useful (praiseworthy), (ii) permissible, and that which is (iii) harmful (blameworthy).
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Knowledge can be

blameworthy, or in another words useless simply due to the non-infallible nature on the human mind. It is perfectly possible that the mind may be erroneous in its activities thus synthesizing knowledge that is flawed. Muslim scholars later refined the above categories to be the Five Principles governing jurisprudence as well as the production of knowledge and its activities; namely that which is (i) Far : obligatory either on the individual, or communal, i.e. rewarded when observed, punished when violated; (ii) Mandub: recommended, i.e. rewarded when observed; (iii) Muba: (iv) Makr: permissible, i.e. both observation and omission are allowed; objectionable, i.e. rewarded when omitted;

(v) Haraam: prohibited, i.e. rewarded when omitted, punished when committed.

40 Al-Ghazli, The Book of Knowledge: Being A Translation with Notes of The Kitb al-Ilm of AlGhazzlis Ihy Ulm Al-Dn, trans. Nabih Amin Faris, ed. Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, (Lahore: Kashmiri Bazar, 2003), pg. 6-7.

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The objective of the obligatory knowledge is not limited only to worldly societal benefits but more so for the happiness in the life after. Obviously, knowledge and the corresponding activities that are forbidden are those that are detrimental to the objectives of the obligatory ones. The gradation between recommended, permissible and objectionable knowledge and its ensuing activities is to allow society certain levels of discretion on prioritization, without prohibition. It allows the flourishing of societys intellectual activities through ethics of the external cognitive behaviour; creativities and innovations.41 Going back to Al-Ghazalis statement that true

knowledge can only be unveiled once the heart has been cleansed and the self cultivated through learning and exercise of the teachings of the Quran, the proliferation of research activities, knowledge and the applications thereof must be guided through inspiration, intuition and ethical consciousness that comes about from spiritual and intellectual interconnections. Knowledge and all its activities, dissemination and behaviour would be to uphold the words of God and to provide the opportunity for society to serve and please Him - thus far from wanton irresponsibility. Muslim scientists must by default be cautious of not falling into the pursuit of blameworthy knowledge nor applications that are of no benefit, let alone harmful. Not only that these principles apply in bio-ethics in general, and ethics in
embryo research in particular but the observance of which is more crucial since the field of specialisation involves manipulations of life-forms, with the slightest error expressed through great devastations years later, e.g. the Thalidomide case.

FUNDAMENTAL ETHICAL ISSUES IN HUMAN EMBRYO RESEARCH The birth of Louise Brown in 1978, the worlds first test-tube baby - healthy and in every other way normal opened up a plethora of scientific advancements and possibilities in embryo research; and with it a glut of applications. Starting from an age old question of the legality and ethicality of abortion; to helping impotent parents conceive, surrogate pregnancies, giving a chance to single sex couples to parent their own children,
41 Othman Bakar, Tauhid and Science: Islamic Perspective on Religion and Science, 2nd edition, (Cambridge, 1999), p.171-196.

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human cloning, stem-cell research, inter-species embryo research, fusing human genetic materials to hollowed animal cells and vice-versa, and etc. It is obvious, even to the general public the glut of possibilities one can do with embryos, especially during the first two weeks of embryological age if science is what it is claimed to be value free. However, even the experts in modern science acknowledge the inherently imperative calling for ethical framework for embryo research. Recommendation 9942 made by the United Kingdom Parliamentary Legislation states: Only embryos created through the union of human sperm and egg can be implanted in a woman, unless otherwise specified. Embryos formed by any process identified in the legislation must be destroyed at a specified stage of development if they are not implanted in a woman. This stage should be set at 14 days but this should be capable of amendment by Parliament. Research on any embryo containing human chromosomal material is permissible up until the specified stage of development if it has received approval from a local research ethics committee and--where appropriate--peer review from a public research funding agency. (Paragraph 392). In his essay Ethics and Embryology: The Case For Experimentation43 the 2010 Nobel Laureate in Physiology / Medicine, Robert Edward writes unapologetically in support for embryo research, a field which he and his colleagues have made significant advances and contributions for about four decades. Being a senior authority in the discipline, he makes clear declarations of the seriousness and complexity of the profuse ethical issues surrounding embryo research. His belief is that; first, it is unjustified to work on human embryos if the necessary information can be obtained from animal embryos. Second, if any work on an embryo is necessary, then it should be done at the earliest stage of growth possible - this is when the eminent 14-day rule as stated in the above recommendation is of possible advantage; and third, the research must have clear objectives with reasons presented for its importance; why they are unachievable using animal embryos; and a clear description of the proposed methods.

42 Government Response to the Report from the House of Commons Science and Technology Commitee: Human Reproductive Technologies and the Law, Publications Policy and Guidance, The National Archive (2010), <http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ +/www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/Browsa ble/DH_5400518>, (Accessed April 3rd, 2011). 43 Robert Edward, Ethics and Embryology: The Case For Experimentation, Anthony Dyson & John Harris (ed), Experiments on Embryos, (Routledge, London, 1991), p. 51-52.

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Another scientist-physician, John Marshall, on the other hand is against embryo research altogether. His ethical bearing stems from a fundamental question - When does a human life begin? He writes44: The great religions of the world certainly have a very firm position about it, but it is a position which they have attained through rationalization, not revelation. It is on this, that a judgement has to be made, a personal judgement as to what stand one is going take, because there is certainly no scientific answer, nor revealed answer. He thus makes his stand against experimentation on embryos which he calls entities which have the potential to become human beings, as one with a small minority of scientists. Addressing the Expert Meeting on Ethical and Legal Issues of Human Embryo Research in February 2008 in Cairo Dr Abdul Rahman Al-Awadi 45, President of the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences (IOMS), remarks that among Muslims, there are those who agree to the use of the embryo as a source of stem cells, while other Islamic scientists are totally against it. While some consider fertilization as the moment the soul is formed, hence the absence of distinction between a fully developed embryo and when it is just cells; others do not object to medical research on embryos - leading to an important question: What is a human being and how can it be defined? He refers to Al-Hijr verse 29, in the creation of Adam a.s., "When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit, fall ye down in obeisance unto him." as reference to the defining moment of making the human form a human being, i.e. with the breath of Gods Spirit. However, there have been questions as when this defining moment is. Some Islamic scientists regard this as happening within 40 days, others say within 120 days, which is the limit for abortion. Whilst the fertilized eggs are to be respected, respect increases over time, until the embryo reaches the limit and no abortion can be conducted, unless the life of the mother is threatened. Islam is not only concerned with the embryo after fertilization, but also with precautions to ensure the health of members of Muslim society, which is protected under the Islamic sharia.

44 John Marshall, The Case Against Experimentation, Experiments on Embryos, (Routledge, London, 1991), p. 53-62. 45 UNESCO, WHO & ISESCO, Final Report of the Meeting, Expert Meeting on Ethical and Legal Issues of Human Embryo Research (Cairo, Egypt, 12-14 February 2008), p. 4-5.

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The Question of Soul The essential questions so far are When does a human life begin? and What is a human being and how can it be defined? The soul is a very important principle in Islamic understanding of the human kind. Al-Ghazl 46

uses the trems qalb, r, nafs and aql to represent the soul though each term stands on its own meaning. Without the soul, the body is just an empty physical entity incapable of its functions as a human being. The soul as it is, is un-perceptible but its manifestations in the physical outlook are very much observable. Every being is living due to the presence of its soul nafs that makes it alive. Each type of soul in the physical world; be it in the kingdom of plants, animal or human, has different sets of faculties or powers. Plants are alive when they exhibit the faculties of growth and reproduction. Animals have added faculties movements and for higher order animals, the sensory faculties (of touch, hearing and sight) while humans have been gifted with more than the animate quality of growth, reproduction, movement and the sensory faculties. In line with the concept of human as a microcosm containing all the different levels of the universal macrocosmic realities, then logically, the realities of the plant, animal and human souls (as well as the subtle, angelic and divine realities) must be present in human at least in the stages of its transcending ascent in the hierarchy of beings. O mankind! if ye have a doubt about the Resurrection, (consider) that We created you out of dust, then out of sperm - nufah, then out of a leech-like clot alaqah, then out of a morsel of flesh - mughah, partly formed and partly unformed, in order that We may manifest (our power) to you... (22:5) The sperm and the ovum are alive, but only with faculties of the plants soul. It is not illogical to classify them - nufah as being in the vegetative phase. If so, the zygote formed after fertilization may also be classified as to be in the same phase. After all, plants do reproduce sexually. ... And clothed the bones with flesh; then we developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create! (23:14)
46 Al-Ghazli, The Book of Knowledge: Being A Translation with Notes of The Kitb al-Ilm of AlGhazzlis Ihy Ulm Al-Dn, trans. Nabih Amin Faris, ed. Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, (Lahore: Kashmiri Bazar, 2003), pg. 6-7.

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Next, from week 2 of the embryonic age (alaqah and mudgah) to week 10-13 (or up to week 23), the stages where the embryo develops further into a foetus with movements, auditory and sight sensory faculties, the living soul or nafs the embryo, then the foetus may be said to exist in an animate phase so developed to be of another creature. The different development stages during this period prepare the foetus towards the manifestation of Gods Power over it. The defining moment the animate foetus enters the reality of the human soul perhaps is illustrated in verse 29 from Surah Al-Hijr: When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit min Rui - fall ye down in obeisance unto him." as well as the verse below: But He fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him something of His spirit - min Rui. And He gave you (the faculties of) hearing and sight and feeling (and understanding): little thanks do ye give! (As-Sajdah 32:9) The preparation of the foetus continues until it is duly proportioned to receive the onset of this highly significant moment. God uses the expression min Rui in both verses to reveal the breathing either of His spirit (in the case of the first man, Adam a.s.) or something of His spirit (in the descendants of Adam a.s.). Here, r signifies another aspect of the soul that has been breathed into the body (either Adam as the prototype of human) or the foetus. It may be implied that because God has created human beings in His image, then with the breathing of His spirit - r, the foetus faculties of the senses and potentials for angelic and divine qualities of understanding emotive and cognitive the qalb and aql respectively, are blown into the developing human foetus. However, one question remains what is this exact moment in the case of the foetus? Is it during the embryonic age of 1013 weeks old, when the foetus starts making active movements, or during the embryonic age of 24 weeks at the onset of the functioning of the foetuss sensory systems? Traditionally, it is believed that the defining moment the foetus receives its soul is at approximately 120 days or 4 months of pregnancy. Careful research on the revealed text of the Quran, as well as Prophetic sayings may provide the needed illumination. Further deliberations and discussions on the soul as above is important as it helps in defining the
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reality of the developing embryo and foetus, to better equip us with greater understanding of the living entity in the womb, for fundamental ethical considerations as far as research and activities on the human embryo is concerned. RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE EXPERT MEETING ON ETHICAL AND LEGAL ISSUES IN HUMAN EMBRYO RESEARCH 47

An Expert Meeting on Ethical and Legal Issues in Human Embryo Research was held in Cairo from 12th to 14th February 2008 organized by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural

Organization (UNESCO) Office in Cairo, World Health Organization Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (WHO/EMRO) and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural

Organization (ISESCO). The Meeting, attended by 25 experts from the region as well as 5 international experts arrived at the recommendations below, which were made build upon the foundation laid in Recommendations of the Stem Cells Seminar held by the Islamic Organization of Medical Sciences (IOMS), in cooperation with WHO/EMRO, UNESCO and ISESCO, Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS), and the Islamic Fiqh Academy, on 3-5 November 2007, also in Cairo. The Recommendations are intended to fit within the distinctive religious and social cultures and values of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Arab region. For the purpose of this paper, only those recommendations that have direct ethical bearings will be cited:
1. Provisions on hES cell research (derived from fresh or cryopreserved embryos) in the region

should respect and reflect religious and cultural values. For instance, where research and/or biological materials are allowed to be imported from other countries, care should be taken, by appropriate oversight if necessary, to ensure that their procurement and creation do not contradict ethical or religious values or traditions. Research should be respectful of human dignity, but may be motivated to relieve the indignity of limitations and suffering due to preventable or treatable illness or disability. 2.
47 UNESCO, WHO & ISESCO, Final Report of the Meeting, Expert Meeting on Ethical and Legal Issues of Human Embryo Research (Cairo, Egypt, 12-14 February 2008), p. 38-43.

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3. The purposes of ethically appropriate, cost-beneficial research should be defined, considering

purposes such as; study of human genetics such as; genome stability and imprinting phenomena research on the origins of genetic diseases in general treatment to overcome transmission of genetic diseases in natural reproduction research on the origins of potentially harmful genetic predispositions to disease in general infertility treatment 4. Research that a country may consider unacceptable should be defined, such as; reproductive cloning germ-line genetic therapy germ-line genetic manipulation (enhancement) 5. Countries without provisions should consider whether to create them, and those with provisions should review them, on such issues as; the use of surplus embryos from IVF for research research cloning (cloning cells for the purpose of deriving embryonic stem cells for research or possibly treatment) HLA typing of embryonic, fetal or other cells for treatment of a couples born child (saviour sibling cells) 6. Countries should consider the acceptability/unacceptability of topics such as: donation of gametes for research use creating embryos from donated gametes for research (e.g. into fatal childhood diseases) promotion of, or collaboration in, commercially-inspired research (e.g. by harmaceutical or biological manufacturers) human/animal chimera research (see IOMS 10th and 19th Recommendations) specific funding for capacity building to undertake hES cell research and development research on human embryos beyond 14 days after fertilization
7. Countries should consider whether the standard requirements for ethical review of research

with humans requires additional oversight for hES cell research on such matters as: consent of gamete or embryo donors consent for use of fetal sources of materials (e.g. from induced abortion) withdrawal of consent to use of gametes and/or ova in research confidentiality/privacy (e.g. involving DNA identification) coercion of and payment (in money or kind) to, donors of material respect for protection of intellectual property interests conflict of interest (e.g. rewards to researchers and/or research institutions) reinforced or additional ethics committee review investigator, research and/or donor participation in commercial profits from licensing agreements commercial use of gametes and/or embryos 8. -38

9. -10. -11. Countries should consider systems and implications of regional and /or wider international collaboration, including: information exchange on research data toleration of deviations from national provisions to accommodate other countries different provisions entitlement of researchers and (postgraduate) students to undertake research in other countries that is prohibited in their own (e.g. on embryos created for research purposes) entitlement of nationals to receive in other countries hES cell research treatments that are prohibited in their own entitlement of nationals from other countries to receive research treatment that is unlawful to receive in their own countries
12. Countries should monitor and exchange information that would reduce or eliminate the need

for hES cell research, such as development of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) and cell lines that are safe for use in humans.

CONCLUSION

The paper attempts to examine the fundamental ethical issues pertaining to embryo research. The current study consists of two separate but inter-related subjects, namely embryology and ethics. In order to serve justice to the above objective and in an effort to present a good understanding of the subject matter, it lays a brief study on embryology as a science in the light of Quranic Revelations and terminologies. This includes concise analyses of the nature of the male sperm and the female ovum pre and post conception; fertilization, embryogenesis and foetal developments. The Quranic terminologies such as nufa, alaqah, and mudgah are juxtaposed with scientifically known stages of embryonic developments. The second part of the paper discuses the basics of Islamic ethics, together with the five principles of Islamic jurisprudence and knowledge. Since there are myriads of embryo research applications and with it innumerable ethical issues and concerns, only the very fundamental
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ethical considerations are examined. These include attempts at answering the basic questions of human life, its definition and beginning, especially in the context of the study, which is embryology. In so doing, the soul is discussed, especially in light of its hierarchy, human as a microcosm and of AlGhazalis definitions of the entity, being that of nafs, ru, qalb and aql. Finally, a brief annotation of the Recommendations of The Expert Meeting in Cairo on Ethical and Legal Issues in Human Embryo Research is presented. These recommendations, though highly useful especially in the technical and legal sense, offer little guideline on the more fundamental and philosophical bases of ethics in embryo research. Rather, the recommendations leave each country to decide on what it considers fitting in its cultural, religious and social contexts although it has been claimed that they were made in full light of the Eastern Mediterranean and Arab regions considerations. The paper is a novice endeavour at studying ethics surrounding embryo research. Despite or rather due to its brevity, one fundamental issue as far as the subject matter remains uncertain. Human life is sacred and must be protected. The questions are, when does life begin and what does it entail? Further careful and knowledgeable deliberations are needed amongst experts and authorities in embryology, medicine, Islamic jurisprudence and ethics, Quranic Tafseer and the Arabic linguistics to come out with clear, detailed and unambiguous ethical guidelines for embryo research. Until this happens, the Ummah is left to decide on each communitys own devices, or worse still is open to practices and applications that are defined by modern atheistic science.

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