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gene editing graphic

In 2018, Dr He Jiankui announced he created the world's first genome-edited babies (BioNews 977), which sparked a call for a five-year moratorium on germline genome editing. As this moratorium ends, it is timely to ask how do we progress from here?

As Muslims form a significant fraction of the world's population, understanding Islamic perspectives is crucial for the biomedical industry.

Currently, the overwhelming majority of Islamic scholars agree that genome editing for human enhancement, eg, to amplify traits such as high IQ, athletic prowess, height and complexion is prohibited (haram). This would be tantamount to tampering with God's creation (Taghyir Khalq Allah), as attested by several fatwas (Islamic religious rulings) issued by reputable Islamic organisations.

Nevertheless, germline genome editing to prevent genetic diseases still elicits some degree of controversy among Islamic scholars. Previous debates had mainly focused on safety aspects, informed consent and breaches of biomedical regulations. What have largely been overlooked are comparisons with alternative (possibly better) techniques for preventing or curing genetic diseases, and technical differences between germline versus somatic (non-reproductive) genome editing. Moreover...