Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Is it permissible that the state obligates prospective marriage partners to undergo medical examinations as a condition for getting married? After discovering that future children may be at risk of hereditary diseases, would the marriage take place or would the couple separate?
These are just some of the questions that were raised recently by a female member of Egyptian parliament as part of a bill that she submitted that was referred to the Suggestions and Complaints Committee before being presented to parliament for discussion in its current session. The bill included a number of articles, most notably obligating prospective marriage partners to undertake medical examinations in order to determine whether they are inflicted by hereditary diseases that might be transmitted to their offspring in addition to submitting a health certificate as evidence that they do not suffer from any genetic diseases at the time of marriage. Moreover, registrars would be obligated to see health certificates before issuing marriage contracts.
In light of this recent controversy, Asharq Al-Awsat spoke to a number of scholars and lawyers on the subject.
Dr Abdul Sabur Shahin, a renowned Islamic preacher and professor at the Dar El-Ulum Faculty at Cairo University said, “This does not apply directly to Islam, however, it is acceptable as long as it is in the interest of the couple and family and to avoid a relationship that has no future as one of the parties may be inflicted by disease. In this case, marriage is a dangerous gamble and if this is the case, the couple should keep away from each other since Shariah states that one should not cause harm or be harmed.”
Dr Mohamed al Dusuki, a professor of Islamic law at the faculty of Dar El-Ulum at Cairo University agrees that a law should be passed making pre-marriage medical examinations compulsory and stressed their importance. “This is the purpose of Islamic law as Islam aims for the establishment of the family unit that is overwhelmed by love, tranquility, warmth and mercy. Pre-marriage medical tests would protect the family from many problems and diseases that might affect the young and could lead to the weakening of society, which contradicts the principles of Islam. The Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) once said: “The strong believer is better and more beloved by Allah than the weak one.”
Dr. Osama Abdul Samee, a professor of comparative jurisprudence at the Faculty of Shariah and Law at Al Azhar University advocated enacting a law that would obligate medical examinations to be carried out before marriage indicating that such law would be in the interest of married couples more so than the state because the issue of disease amongst children affects parents more than the state. The state should continue to look after these children who have been inflicted by [hereditary] diseases that could have been avoided if the couple did not marry. Therefore, the state has a role to play in taking care of its children.
Dr. Abdul Fatah Idris, head of the department of comparative jurisprudence at the Faculty of Shariah and Law at Al Azhar University disagrees with the previous views and maintains that people should not be forced to undergo medical examinations before marriage since they would not be effective and it is the right of those who are inflicted by disease to get married.
Rashed Abdu al Tamawi, a legal adviser affirmed that pre-marriage medical examinations are important and necessary, pointing out that Article 1 of the new Personal Status Law relates to registrars who must ensure that a medical certificate is submitted by prospective marriage partners confirming that they do not have any transmittable diseases that might hinder the success of the marriage. However, it is noticeable that registrars have not committed to this article because a large part of society refuses to undergo these medical tests. It is considered a taboo subject within society.