Background: New genetic and reproductive technologies pose several challenges to the established structure of Islamic regulations concerning the nuclear family, which covers the marital connection and lineage regulations. More particularly, they raise questions about traditional definitions of both paternity and maternity and the extent to which these two concepts should be tied to marriage. For example, while DNA technology questions the traditional primacy of legal factors over biological factors in the determination of paternity, assisted reproduction with donor gametes and surrogacy arrangements challenge the classical definition of both paternity and maternity. These new developments have stirred heated debates on the future of the nuclear family worldwide with increasing demands for clearer criteria for the definition of both paternity and maternity. In Most Muslim-majority countries, where personal status issues are regulated according to sharia, legislation does not always keep up with these developments. In the absence of binding laws, disputes are settled according to the general principles of Islamic law, mostly in the form of non-binding fatwas and recommendations. The absence of formal or unified decision-making mechanisms gives rise to a wide range of views on these issues. Important open questions include: to what extent are the new forms of the nuclear family compatible with shari'ah? And, to what extent does the Islamic ethico-legal assessment depend on established scientific facts? The working thesis of this presentation is that modern Muslim discourses often seek to accommodate scientific explanations in the construction of Islamic ethico-legal assessments concerning the structure of the nuclear family in the wake of new genetic and reproductive technologies. Objectives: This project aims to identify gaps in current scholarship on this important topic and suggest ways to fill these gaps. This project illustrates the result of several years of original research. It benefited from the research infrastructure that was established and funded by two three-year NPRP grants. This infrastructure includes a sizeable physical and digital collection of resources (stored in an electronic database), a vibrant research program currently developing a first-rate reference work scheduled to be published by a reputable academic publisher, and a large network of subject experts developed through presentations at local, regional, and international conferences including the organization of two international conferences in Doha. Methods: The presentation will explain the different components of the project, which include: - Conceptualization, planning, and research design - Available resources and previous studies - Interdisciplinarity of the subject, which requires thorough understanding of o The Islamic ethico-legal tradition o The current (positive) legal landscape in most Muslim- majority countries o Relationship between religion and law on the one hand and science on the other as well as the nature of legal development o Role of the social sciences (mainly sociology and anthropology) in capturing, documenting, and accounting for social change - Dissemination and outreach activities Results and Conclusion: The presentation will share the results achieved as well as challenges encountered. It will also discuss suggested policy and legal reforms relevant to Qatar (and the Arab region) and plans for future development.


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