05 Jun Is Birth Control and Abortion allowed in Islam?
Is Birth Control and Abortion allowed in Islam?
Salam guys, you people are doing a wonderful job with the blog, it’s AMAZING. I just had a little question or a misconception… whatever… but is birth control and Abortion allowed in islam? It’s been bothering me for a while. :/
Wa alykum as-salaam,
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As far as birth control and abortion, they are both considered to be permissible for Muslims, within particular frameworks that I will discuss.
I have been asked about birth control medicine, I would imagine because of the recent controversy in the United States. I would like to be very clear, if you are an unmarried woman, taking birth control for reasons that do not have to do with contraception, such as ovarian cysts, regulation of your menstrual cycle, or various other medical purposes that birth control pills are used for, that is completely and without question permissible and encouraged.
I cannot think of a single reason, let alone a Qur’anic verse or Hadith that would suggest that taking birth control for reasons unrelated to contraception (with a valid medical purpose) would be impermissible.
That being said, when it comes to birth control, as far as actually preventing a woman from becoming pregnant, this is also considered permissible.
There is nothing in The Qur’an that directly addresses the idea of contraception, and so it is from the Hadith that we find evidence for contraception’s permissibility. We must also realize that there was only one method for contraception within the time of The Prophet, and that was coitus interruptus, I apologize for being explicit, but I do not want to be misunderstood: it is the process by which a man withdraws his penis from the woman’s vagina before ejaculation.
This was how contraception was practiced by The Prophet and his companions, however, this does not mean that our modern techniques are to be considered impermissible, whether by condoms, birth control pills, or other methods. The only potential consideration is whether a certain form of contraception is harmful to the health of the user(s). We learn about The Prophet’s acceptance of contraception through the Hadith.
This first Hadith has two versions, one in Bukhari and one in Muslim, both are narrated by Jabir, the Bukhari version is: “We practiced coitus interruptus during the time of the Messenger of God (peace be on him) while The Qur’an was being revealed.”
The version found in Muslim is: “We practiced coitus interruptus during the time of the Messenger of God (peace be upon him). He came to know about it, but he did not prohibit it.”
There are other Hadith, but I believe the two versions mentioned above are the clearest and most direct, and I have yet to find any Hadith that would suggest something other than what these two Hadith report.
The only issues that have been covered by scholars is over the scope of contraception, in that the early scholars’ opinions show how important women’s rights were at the beginning of Islam, not just today.
Ahmad ibn Hanbal, founder of the Hanbali School of Law, when writing about contraception was of the opinion that a man may only practice contraception (in the form of coitus interruptus) with the consent of his wife. Why did he say this? For ibn Hanbal, sex was something to be enjoyed by both a man and a woman, and that this practice was only to be deemed permissible by the woman’s consent since she is the one who also must enjoy sex, but also is the one who will carry the baby. Therefore, it becomes clear from even the classic scholars, that contraception is a choice which can be initiated by either party, but must be agreed to by both, with a woman’s preference being of primary concern.
As far as whether abortion is considered permissible or not, there is a bit of problem, since we do not have any mention of abortion in The Qur’an or in the Sunnah, because this practice was simply not possible during the time of The Prophet. Therefore, the scholars, using the jurisprudential tool Masalih al Mursalah or Istislah, or “public welfare” have argued that abortion is permissible when the woman’s life is in danger. Abortion in cases of incest, rape, and other related instances is also deemed to be permissible.
Abortion that is outside of those concerns is not deemed to be permissible. Abortion should also be conducted before the fetus has a soul. When this precisely happens is a matter of some debate, but the most generally accepted definition is that the soul enters after the first trimester. Thus, abortions done for incest or rape should be done as soon as is medically possible, preferably within the first trimester. The conception of when the soul enters the body of the fetus is based upon The Qu’ran:
“(12) Now, indeed, We create man out of the essence of clay, (13) and then We cause him to remain as a drop of sperm in [the womb’s] firm keeping, (14) and then We create out of the drop of sperm a germ-cell, and then We create out of the germ-cell an embryonic lump, and then We create within the embryonic lump bones, and then We clothe the bones with flesh — and then We bring [all] this into being as a new creation: hallowed, therefore, is God, the best of artisans!” [23:12-14] Muhammad Asad
Regardless, at any point of the pregnancy, if the life of the woman is endangered, abortion is permissible, without question. There is debate over whether it is permissible to abort a fetus who is diagnosed with down’s syndrome or various birth defects. There is not a wide consensus over this issue, nor is there a strict separation between the various Schools of Law over the issue.
Insha Allah, I hope that I answered your question, and that if you, or anyone else has any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.