Islamic views on birth control

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Islamic views toward birth control reflect a large variety of positions.


  • Poverty, illiteracy, religious fanaticism and lack of family planning, etc. are mainly responsible for the growth of EBOM population. Lack of education, child marriage, polygamy, poverty, etc. are making the population issue more complex … the illiterate char-chapori people believe that more children can eradicate their poverty and hence more children is the answer to their poverty. Added to it, religious fanaticism and superstitions are galore—they believe that children are the greatest gifts of Allah and He will also provide food and shelter to them. Human beings have nothing to do—they are just means. Hence they consider birth control exercises as anti-Islamic practices.
    • Ali, Illias. Jonobisfuronor Pom Khedi (in Assam). Guwahati: Maleka Foundation, 2015. 85-90 quoted in Nani Gopal Mahanta - Citizenship Debate over NRC and CAA_ Assam and the Politics of History (2021, SAGE Publications India) p 272
  • Birth control should be resorted to only in cases of extreme necessity, such as the wife's ill-health owing to constant births. Imam Abu Hanifa holds it makruh (abominable).
    • Muhammad Imran, Ideal Woman, Delhi 1994 (1981), published by the Markazi Maktaba Islami ("Islamic Educational Centre"), Delhi. 66-68
  • [It is] one of the fundamental tenets of Islam -- namely, to multiply the tribe.
    • Saeed Naqvi: Reflections of an Indian Muslim (Har-Anand, Delhi 1993), p.32.
  • Had the monster of 'Birth Control' as an instrument of state policy raised its head in the days of the Holy Prophet, he would surely have declared Jihad against it in the same manner as he waged Jihad against Shirk (polytheism).
    • Muhammad Samiullah, Muslims in Alien Society, p.90. Noor Publishing House (Delhi)
  • There is no denying the fact that the political prestige and military strength of a country depends upon the size of its population. (...) In the Islamic context greater population has a double significance because one cannot wage an effective Jihad without an expanding population.
    • Muhammad Samiullah, Muslims in Alien Society, p.95-96. Noor Publishing House (Delhi)
  • The Qur'an says that 'Children are an ornament of life' and Hadith literature views with favour larger families for the greater strength of Ummah, and as such birth control / family planning cannot be in any way compatible with the Shari'ah.
    • Muhammad Samiullah, Muslims in Alien Society, p.97. Noor Publishing House (Delhi)
  • Islam is one of the few religi­ons that allow for birth control.
    • Yoginder Sikand: "Bogey of family planning and Islam", Observer of Business and Politics, 27-2-1993, with refere­nce to B.F. Musallam: Sex and Society in Islam (Cambridge 1933). Quoted from Elst, Koenraad. (1997) The Demographic Siege
  • The ulema declare: If need be, then, as long as the excuse lasts, one can use contraceptive methods, but, frankly speaking, it is sheer ingratitude for divine bounty that one gets oneself deprived of offspring through tubectomy without a legal excuse. The Holy Prophet (pbuh.!) has said: ‘Contract marriage with women who love more and beget more children so that on account of your multitudinousness on the Day of Judgement I may take pride in your number vis-à-vis the other ummahs’ (Mishkat). God is the Provider; He will provide for you as well as your children. The children’s provider is God, not we. He who supplied nourishment in the mother’s womb, He will provide it after birth also. The list of livelihood the offspring bring with them from the mother’s womb and they will receive their quota according to the same. Why should then one entertain such thoughts? The Divine Commandment is: ‘And that ye slay not your children because of penury—We provide for you and for them’ (6:151). At another place it has been said: ‘Slay not your children, fearing a [fall to poverty]; We shall provide for them and for you’ (17:31). It is reported in a hadith that certain Companions, in order to save themselves from sins and wordly worries and to engage themselves in devotions, expressed the wish to get themselves castrated. The Holy Prophet (pbuh.!) did not permit it and recited the Quranic verse: ‘O ye who believe ! Fobid not the good things which Allah hath made lawful for you, and transgress not. Lo! Allah loveth not transgressors’ (V. 87). (Bukh., vol. ii, p.759). It is conclusively proved from this that castration, that is, the discontinuance of procreation artificially is unlawful (haram) according to the explicit verse of the Quran also and is included in transgression from the limits fixed by God. Hence an operation that discontinues procreation is unanimously unlawful (UQ, vol. xx, p. 72)... And the jurisconsults have said: ‘Castration of men is forbidden’ (haram). (DM & S., vol. v, p. 342). And: ‘And that ye slay not your children because of penury—We provide for you and for them.’ (VI: 151). And: ‘Slay not your children, fearing a fall to poverty.We shall provide for them and for you.’ (XVII: 31).
    • Fatawa-i-Raihimiyyah, Quran, Hadis, quoted in Arun Shourie - The World of Fatwas Or The Sharia in Action (2012, Harper Collins).
  • When the Companions asked the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho Aliaihe wa sallaml) about coitus interruptus (‘azl), he said: ‘This is like burying a live child.’ And this is the same which has been described in the Quranic verse: ‘And when the girl-child that was buried alive is asked’ (LXXXI) (Vide Muslim Sharif, vol. i, p. 466; Mishkat Sharif, p. 276). In Path al-Mulhim Sharh-e Sahih-e Muslim, Allamah Shabbir Ahmed Usmani quotes that Qazi has written that the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho Aliaihe wa sallam!) has determined coitus interruptus ‘a hidden burial’, that is, to waste the seed which Allah Most High had prepared for procreation is like infanticide and burying the child alive. The result is the same: the only difference is that it is not buried alive openly and hence it has been called hidden. There is a hadith in the Bukhari Sharif to the effect that when the Companions, on account of their zest of engaging in devotions and in order to avoid sins and for remaining aloof from relations, expressed the desire to get themselves castrated, the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wa sallam!) did not allow them and adduced the Quranic verse, ‘O ye who believe: Forbid not the good things which Allah hath made lawful for you, and transgress not. Lo! Allah loveth not transgressors’ (V: 87), in proof. Even as the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho Alaihe wa sallam!) has, by this verse, determined castration to be unlawful, it is obvious that the termination of propagation under the family planning scheme will also be included under this order.
    • Fatawa-i-Raihimiyyah, Quran, Hadis, quoted in Arun Shourie - The World of Fatwas Or The Sharia in Action (2012, Harper Collins).
  • Birth-control methods varied widely around the Islamic world, and there are a great number of texts suggesting a variety of techniques, ranging from coitus interruptus to more bizarre solutions such as suppositories containing rennet of rabbit, ‘broth of wall flower and honey’ and ‘leaves of weeping willow in a flock of wool’ (a popular option in early medieval Persia). But birth control was not just the woman’s business: male contraceptive techniques included ‘drinking juice of watermint at coitus’, rubbing the juice of an onion or a solution of rock salt onto the end of the penis, or, more alarmingly, smearing the entire penis with tar. Other mysterious solutions to the problems of Islamic family planning included ‘fumigation with elephant’s dung’ and, stranger still, ‘jumping backwards’.

Islamic texts on birth control, fertility and celibacy[edit]

  • Narrated Ma'qil ibn Yasar: A man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: I have found a woman of rank and beauty, but she does not give birth to children. Should I marry her? He said: No. He came again to him, but he prohibited him. He came to him third time, and he (the Prophet) said: Marry women who are loving and very prolific, for I shall outnumber the peoples by you.
    • Sunan Abu Dawud 11:2045
  • It was narrated from Aishah that: the Messenger of Allah said: “Marriage is part of my sunnah, and whoever does not follow my sunnah has nothing to do with me. Get married, for I will boast of your great numbers before the nations. Whoever has that means, let him get married, and whoever does not, then he should fast for it will diminish his desire.” (Hasan)
    • Sunan Ibn Majah 3:9:1846
  • It was narrated from Samurah that: the Messenger of Allah forbade celibacy. Zaid bin Akhzam added: “And Qatadah recited: 'And indeed We sent Messengers before you (O Muhammad ), and made for them wives and offspring.'”(Sahih)
    • Sunan Ibn Majah 3:9:1849
  • It was narrated that: Sa'd said: “The Messenger of Allah disapproved of Uthman bin Maz'un's desire to remain celibate; if he had given him permission, we would have gotten ourselves castrated.” (Sahih)
    • Sunan Ibn Majah 3:9:1848
  • It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that: the Messenger of Allah said: “Marry, for I will boast of your great numbers.”(Sahih)
    • Sunan Ibn Majah 3:9:1863
  • Marry women who will love their hus­bands and be very prolific, for I want you to be more numerous than any other people.
    • Quoted from T.P. Hughes: Dictionary of Islam, p.314, who refers to book 13 of Mishkatu'l Masa­bih ("nic­hes for lamps [of the tradition]", a compilation of Sunni tradit­ions by the 12th-century Imam Husain al-Baghaw­i, expanded in the 14th century by Shaykh Waliuddin).

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