Family Planning & Birth Control In Islam
By Jamaal Zarabozo
The question of family planning and birth control was discussed in detail by
the Majma al-Fiqh al-Islaami. They had twenty three scholars research this
topic and present their findings on this matter.
The participants involved represented many different trends and schools of
thought. Among the participants were Muhammad Ali al-Baar, Ali al-Saaloos,
Muhammad Saeed Ramadhan al-Booti, Abdullah al-Basaam, Hasan Hathoot and
Muhammad Sayid Tantaawi. Their proceedings, papers and discussions may be found
in Part One of the Fifth Volume of Majallah Majma al-Fiqh al-Islaami (1988/1409
A.H.). These proceedings are 748 pages all about the question of birth control
and related issues.
The following are important points related to the issue of birth control in
Islam. These were mentioned by some of the participants in the above program:
* The institution of marriage and the want to have children was the custom of
the best of creation, the prophets and messengers chosen by Allah. Allah says
about them: “And indeed We sent messengers before you and made for them
wives and offspring” (al-Raad 38)
* The best example for the believers is the example of the prophet Muhammad
(saw), who married and had children. These prophets and messengers are the
people whom Muslims should look to emulate. Allah says:
“They are those whom Allah has guided. So follow their guidance”
* They should be emulated and not the disbelievers of the West, whose new
lifestyles – mostly out of concern for enjoying this life or obtaining as many
worldly goods as possible – discourage women from having more children.
* Islam has forbidden celibacy, monasticism and castration for such purposes.
The prophet (saw) made this clear when he told those companions who were considering
acetic forms of life: “I pray and I sleep; I fast and I break my fast; and
I marry women. Whoever turns away from my way of life is not from me.”
The prophet (saw) not only encouraged marriage but he encouraged marrying those
women who are child-bearing. He stated: “marry the loving, child-bearing
women for I shall have the largest numbers among the prophets on the day of
Resurrection.” (Recorded by Ahmad and ibn Hibban.)
* From the Islamic perspective, children are a gift and a blessing from Allah.
Allah mentions some of the bounties that He has bestowed upon mankind in the
“And Allah has made for you spouses of your own kind and has made for you,
from your wives, sons and grandsons, and has bestowed upon you good provisions.”
Allah also said:
“Wealth and children are the adornment of the life of this world.”
* The only true provider for all mankind is Allah. If Muslims follow what Allah
has prescribed for them, Allah will provide for them. Allah has warned about
killing one’s children out of fear of poverty for either parents or the child.
“Kill not your children because of poverty – We provide sustenance for you
and for them” (al-Anaam 151)
Allah also says:
“And kill not your children for fear of poverty. We shall provide for them
as well as for you. Surely, the killing of them is a great sin” (al-Isra
Hence, Muslims should never abort or kill their children out of fear of
poverty. It is Allah who provides for them.
Based on the above points and numerous others, the scholars who participated in
the research on this question came up with the following resolution:
-It is not allowed to enact a general law that limits the freedom of
spouses in having children.
-It is forbidden to “permanently” end a man’s or a woman’s
ability to produce children, such as by having a hysterectomy or vasectomy, as
long as that is not called for by circumstances of necessity according to its
-It is permissible to control the timing of births with the intent of
distancing the occurrences of pregnancy or to delay it for a specific amount of
time, if there is some Shariah need for that in the opinion of the spouses,
based on mutual consultation and agreement between them. However, this is
conditioned by that not leading to any harm, by it being done by means that are
approved in the Shariah and that it not do anything to oppose a current and