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Negation of Paternity in Islamic Law between Liʿān and DNA Fingerprinting

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This essay explores the impact of DNA fingerprinting on the Islamic law of paternity, with a particular focus on paternity negation and the continued validity of liʿān (mutual oaths of condemnation). After surveying the scriptural and legal foundations of liʿān in the Islamic legal tradition, the essay traces the introduction of DNA fingerprinting for the resolution of identity and paternity disputes in the modern period, especially in the American legal context. The essay explores the modern Muslim legal opinion on the issue by examining the statements and discussions of three scholarly councils: the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences, the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, and the Islamic Fiqh Council. The essay argues that the modern Muslim opinion on the issue is a function of both the legal characterization of DNA fingerprinting vis-à-vis sharīʿah methods for the establishment and negation of paternity, and the reconstructed role and objective of liʿān as a legal method. 

Affiliations: 1: Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar, Education City, P.O. Box 23689, Doha, Qatar


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