‘The Miraculous Journey’ (2005 – 2013) consists of fourteen large-scale bronze sculptures that chart the gestation of a foetus from conception to birth. This impressive art work is by controversial British artist Damien Hirst. It can be found outside the new Sidra Medical and Research Centre in Doha, Qatar.
‘The Miraculous Journey‘ begins with the fertilization of an egg and ends with a fully formed baby. The huge bronze figures range from 5 to 11 metres in height and the whole structure weighs 216 metric tonnes. They were individually cast in over 500 panels at Pangolin Foundry in the UK before being transported to Qatar.
Hirst explains that the work came from, “a desire to create something monumental, whilst essentially human.” He states: “Ultimately, the journey a baby goes through before birth is bigger than anything it will experience in its human life. I hope the sculpture will instill in the viewer a sense of awe and wonder at this extraordinary human process, which will soon be occurring in the Sidra Medical Center, as well as every second all across the globe.”
Sheikha al Mayassa Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, chairwoman of the Qatar Museums Authority who commissioned the work, made the point to the New York Times: “To have something like this is less daring than having a lot of nudity. There is a verse in the Qur’an about the miracle of birth. It is not against our culture or our religion.” In the Qur’an it says, [We] then formed the drop into a clot and formed the clot into a lump and formed the lump into bones and clothed the bones in flesh; and then brought him into being as another creature. Blessed be Allah, the Best of Creators! (Qur’an, 23:14).
This really interesting artwork which teaches people about the incredible nature of human development from conception, embryo, foetus and birth links to what we learn in PSHCE about pregnancy and also what we study in RS classes about Islam and abortion. The main fact to remember is that it is rarely permitted after 120 days. Muslims regard abortion as wrong and haram (forbidden), but many accept that it may be permitted in certain cases.
As with most moral debates, a religion like Islam will have a variety of viewpoints. All schools of Muslim law accept that abortion is permitted if continuing the pregnancy would put the mother’s life in real danger. This is the only reason accepted for abortion after 120 days of the pregnancy. Different schools of Muslim law hold different views on whether any other reasons for abortion are permitted, and at what stage of pregnancy if so. Some schools of Muslim law permit abortion in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy, while others only permit it in the first 7 weeks. However, even those scholars who would permit early abortion in certain cases still regard abortion as wrong, but do not regard it as a punishable wrong.
The Qur’an does not explicitly refer to abortion but offers guidance on related matters.