Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures

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Sleeping Fetus: Overview
(3,517 words)

The concept of the sleeping fetus ( al-rāqid ) relates to the question of the maximum length of pregnancy allowed under Islamic law. All four Sunnī law schools accepted a prolonged pregnancy of greater than nine months, but the notion was especially rooted in Mālikī law, where pregnancies up to seven years were permitted. This ruling was widely accepted in spite of a Qurʾānic teaching that the maximum length of time between conception and weaning of the child was 30 months (Qurʾān 46:15).

The question of the maximum legal length of pregnancy is a matter of serious concern beca…

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Miller, Susan Gilson, “Sleeping Fetus: Overview”, in: Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures, General Editor Suad Joseph. Consulted online on 22 February 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1872-5309_ewic_EWICCOM_0205>
First published online: 2009

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