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Published On:02 November 2011
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Family planning: The Islamic perspective

By Igbayilola Yusuf

In developed countries and civilised world, women are allowed to gain more autonomy and are better able to claim their rights as individuals, including the right to act to protect their own reproductive health. This has given equal power between husband and wife, a woman can decide without the consent of the husband.

Community norms also prescribe how much autonomy individuals have in making family planning decisions. The larger the differences in reproductive intentions within a community, the more likely that community norms support individual choices.

Islamic perspective

Having understood the meaning, methods, purpose, advantages and disadvantages of family planning, what then is the Islamic perspective of family planning?

The following are the verdicts by prominent Islamic scholars on family planning/birth control

Al-albani

The scholar, MuhammedNasirud-Din al-Albani, was asked about the rulling of family planning/hormonal birth control. Hereplied: “The rulling of birth control depends on its incentive. It is permissible if, based on the advice of a trust worthy Muslim physicians, the incentive is to guard the wife’s health that has been adversely affected by bearing too many children. On the other hand, if it is done for fear of poverty, applying material reasoning similar to that of non-believers - based on their income they conclude that they cannot support more children, this is impermissible in Islam. This arises from the Jahiliyah’s logic to which Allah (S.W.T) refers by saying “Do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you, indeed their killing is ever a great sin” (Q 17:31). True Muslims believe that every child’s sustenance comes with it. As it is well known, even while it is still in its mother’s womb and before it comes out to life, its sustainace is recorded for it”

Al-Albani also said
“ ... This (permission) is in regard to the ‘azl (early withdrawal) that was known in those days. As for our time, there are methods where by a man can completely prevent his fluid from reaching his wife, such as tuballigation, condoms, and so on. Thus, the arguments regarding hadiths (that permit ‘azl) do not hold here. Rather, what applies are above metioned predicament (harming the woman and reducing the number of muslims), especially the scond one. In any case, in my own opinion, ‘azi is dis-approved when purpose of the disbelievers are added to the above two predicaments, or one of them.

Purpose of the disbelievers in birth control include fear of poverty because of many children, and concern about spending on them and raising them in such cases the disapproval reaches the level of prohibiton.

On the other hand, if the woman is sick, and the doctor fears that her sickness will increase by pregnancy, she may take a temporary contraceptive.

And if her sickness is severe and life threaning, only in this ease is permissible or even obligatory to perform tuballigation on her and Allah knows better”.

Ibnbaz

The scholar, Abdul-Aziz Bin Baz, (may Allah be pleased with him) was asked about the rulling of family planning. He replied: “The supreme council of scholars (ulamah) has studied this issue and arrived at the conclusion that it is not permissible to take the birth control pill, because Allah (SWT) has legislated for his servants undertaking the means of boosting birth and increasing the ummah. The prophet (SA W) said: “Marry a woman who is loving and can bear you many children, because I will be delighted by your out numbering of other nations” .

.... This is because the ummah needs large numbers in order’ to worship Allah. Thus it is obligatory to avoid this and not permit or use it except for a necessity. If there is a necessity, there is no harm in using it in accordance with the need.

Also, if the woman has so many children that pregnancy becomes difficult for her, then it is not prohibited for her to take the pill for a limited duration, like one or two years, to complete her nursing and make it easier to nurse her children properly. But if the pills are to be used so that the woman will devote her time for employment, entertainment, or other reason that concern the women today, then this is not permissible”.

I bnBaz (may Allah have mercy on him) was also asked in regard to a twenty-nine year old woman who gave birth to ten children and a caescarian operation was required for her tenth delivery. She asked her husband before that operation to have a tubal ligation done to her so that she would not have any more children, because of her health, and the birth control pill had bad side effects on her health. Is she or her husband sinful? His answer was:

“There is no harm in doing that operation provided that the physicians have decided that additional pregnancies would harm her, and that her husband gave her permission for that”.

He was asked in regard to a young woman who was told by a skillful muslim doctor that she may not bear any children because she would then die before delivery. Is it permissible for her to use medication that prevents pregnancy, or for her husband to perform ‘azl with her? He replied: “The rulling in regard to taking the pill depends on the woman’s situation.

Some reports, such as that of Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) indicate the permissibility of ‘azl.

Taking the pill or doing ‘azil does not prevent what Allah has decreed to create of human beings. This is based on reports by Jabir, Abu said, and other sahabah, that indicate the permissibility of ‘azl. Taking the pill issimilar to ‘azil.

As for the ‘skillful muslim doctor” saying that if this woman bears a child she would die before delivery, them this is very wrong, because such certain knowledge of the time of death is part of the ghayb that only Allah knows.

AL-Uthaymin

In regard to birth control, the scholar, Muhammad Bin salih al Uthaymin Said.

“There are different kinds of birth control methods:

1. Those that permanently inhibit birth. This is not permissible, because it prevents pregnancy and decreases the offspring, which contradict the purpose of increasing the Muslim Ummah. Furthermore, a woman who practices this is not secure of loosing her current children, there by possibly becoming a widow without children.

2. Those that prevent birth temporarily. The example of this would be a woman who had frequent pregnancies that overburdened her, so she wishes to organize her pregnancies to be biennial. This is permissible with the condition that her husband permits it, and that it does not cause her any harm. The evidence for his is that the sahabah performed ‘azil with their woman during the time of the prophet (SAW).
3. Abortion that is done with the intension of destroying the embryo. If this happens after the blowing of the soul in to it, it is doubtlessly prohibited because it involved killing a sanctified soul without right, which is prohibited by the Book, the Sunnah, and the Muslim consensus.

And if it happens before the blowing of the soul, the scholars differ in its regard, some permitting it, others prohibiting it, a third group permitting it before the embryo becomes a ‘alaqa (clot), i.e before forthdays, and a fourth group permitting it before the embryo takes a clear human form.

The safest position is to prohibit this except for a need, such as that the mother is sick and unable to bear child. In this case, it would be permissible to abort it unless it has passed a term long enough that it take a clear human form, in which case it would be prohibited and Allah knows better.”

He was also asked in regard to a woman who wants children but her husband does not. Is he allowed to force her to take the pill? And is he allowed to perform ‘azil ifshe refuses to use the pill? He replied: “It is prohibited for a man to perform ‘azl without his wife’s consent. He should respect her feelings: he was the one who wanted children and she did not, he would not let her stop him from fulfilling his wish”.

From the above discussion and verdicts by prominent scholars, we summarize the subject of the family planning birth control in the following points:

1. Islam encourages Muslims to have many children.

2. All of birth control methods have one or more types of harm: religious, emotional, and physical. The harm varies with the individual and the method used. Some required exposing the private parts to a professional (religious harm), others cause heart problem (physical harm), others cause depression (emotional harm) etc.

3. Regardless of the method, birth control is prohibited if it is done for non- Islamic purpose such as fearing of poverty or wanting to live “a peaceful and quet life without children”.

4. With the above restriction (in item 3), birth’ control using natural methods (which cause the least harm), such as early withdrawal, rhythm, condoms and so on, it is permissible but disapproved in Islam. It should be avoided unless there is a benefit in using it, such as spacing pregnancies, breast feeding and so on.

5. Birth control using any other method other than natural methods is not allowed unless there is a definite physical necessity because of serious threat to the woman’s wellbeing. In that case, the method to be used must be chosen to carry least possible harm for the woman.

6. If the woman’s health problem is temporary, she may not use a permanet birth control method. Only if her health situation is permanent and life threatening may she use permanent contraception (like tuballigation).

7. Abortion is prohibited regardless of the age of embryo. The prohibition is more emphasized as embryo begins to develop distinctive human features after blowing the soul into it (at the age of 120 days), abortion counts as killing a living human being.

8. Abortion is only permissible in situations where continuing the pregnancy would most likely cause death to the mother.

Indeed, Allah (S. W.T) knows best and may He bestow His salah and Salam upon our noble prophet Muhammad (S.A.W).

[Igbayilola Yusuf is the general coordinator, Association of Muslim Health Students, LAUTECH.]

(Courtesy: Nigerian Tribune)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on November 02, 2011. Filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on November 02, 2011. Filed under , , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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