Violating Religious Prohibitions to Preserve Family Harmony and Lineage among Sunni Muslims

Ya'arit Bokek-Cohen, Ibtisam Marey-Sarwan, Mahdi Tarabeih

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This qualitative study draws on the ecological theory and the context-informed perspective to explore the experience of being in a situation where there is a contradiction between the societal expectations of childbearing and the wish to obey Islamic ruling that prohibits third-party gamete donation. We conducted face-to-face interviews with twenty-five Sunni Muslim women who underwent third-party gamete donation treatments in two Middle Eastern countries. Results show that the interviewees decided to embark on fertility treatments involving third-party gamete donation because of the familial and sociocultural pressure to bear children, and the wish to preserve family integrity and marital harmony and continue the family lineage. They keep this treatment a secret and tell no one, nor do they intend to tell their children that they are donor-conceived offspring. Interviewees also expressed a subversive attitude toward the religious authorities and the Islamic fatwa (ruling) that prohibits third-party gamete donation. This study contributes to the scholarship of family relationships the understanding that in some contexts, when facing a conflict of priorities between family and religion, individuals may prefer to give the family priority over obedience to religious dictates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-270
Number of pages26
JournalMarriage and Family Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Islam
  • Sunni Muslim
  • context-informed perspective
  • donor insemination
  • ecological theory
  • egg donation
  • gamete donation
  • sperm donation


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