Some early forms of birth control were practiced during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and he did not object to their appropriate use – such as to benefit the family or the mother’s health, or to delay pregnancy for a certain period of time. This verse serves as a reminder, though, that Allah takes care of our needs and we should not hesitate to bring children into the world out of fear or for selfish reasons. We must also remember that no method of birth control is 100% effective; Allah is the Creator, and if Allah wants a couple to have a child, we should accept it as His will.
Opinion of Scholars:
Islamic scholars vary in their opinions about contraception, but only the most conservative scholars prohibit birth control in all instances. Virtually all scholars consider allowances for the mother’s health, and most allow for at least some forms of birth control when it is a mutual decision by husband and wife. Some of the more fiercely debated opinions surround birth control methods that interrupt the development of a fetus after conception, methods which are irreversible, or when birth control is used by one spouse without the knowledge of the other.
Types of Contraception:
- Natural family planning: This was commonly practiced during the time of the Prophet Muhammad, and he did not universally object to it. Spouses need to be sensitive to each other’s needs for fulfillment, however, and practice this method only if both agree.
- Barrier methods (condoms, diaphragms, etc.): These are designed to prevent conception, and are therefore accepted by most Muslim scholars.
- Hormonal and other methods (pill, patch, IUD, etc.): These work through a combination of preventing fertilization and interfering with implantation. Most scholars frown upon such methods except under medical supervision, particularly as they may cause harm to the woman using them.
- Surgery (vasectomy, tubal ligation, hysterectomy): Islam forbids a couple from choosing to be permanently child-free through the use of surgeries which are irreversible, unless for medical reasons.
Abortion is frowned upon during the early weeks, and is considered a sin if done without just cause, but most Islamic jurists permit it. Most early Muslim scholars found abortion to be permissible if done in the first 90-120 days after conception, but abortion is universally condemned thereafter unless to save the mother's life.