When I wrote an earlier post seeking readers suggestions for topics, Tina asked that I provide a post on birth control and Islam. It is permitted or not? I knew in speaking with various Saudi women I was told both that birth control was allowable and also told that it was not allowable. Those who said it was allowable cited such reasons as the need for family planning, financial circumstances, health issues and not having too many babies too closely together. Those who said birth control was not allowable shared the view that whether a woman got pregnant or not was “God’s will.” They also cited that the sexual act was to be performed to procreate and bring more Muslims into the world. Not surprisingly, women who would be viewed as moderate, educated, liberal and open-minded were the ones advocating birth control. The women who were against birth control were more conservative, most did not attend University and would likely never work outside of the home. There were a few exceptions in that several women were university educated and worked and not in favor of birth control. I’m not trying to make any stereotypes here or point fingers but relaying findings.
I then turned to various search engines to see what information would surface since this is a topic on which I did not know and hoped to find a sanctioned source who could enlighten me and others on this topic, especially with the diverse answers when making an informal poll. In a 1996 edition of Islamic Journal, “Alyssa” writes an article entitled “Family Planning in Islam” (http://www.unh.edu/msa/familyp.htm) which cites that birth control is indeed permissible and cited the following reasons promoting the use of birth control:
Modern scholar Shaykh Ahmad al-Sharabassi of Egypt has pronounced the following as genuine reasons for practicing contraception:
<!–[if !supportLists]–>1. <!–[endif]–>So that the woman may rest between pregnancies.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>2. <!–[endif]–>If either partner has a transmittable disease.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>3. <!–[endif]–>For the sake of the woman’s health. For example if she is already breast-feeding a child it would be damaging for both her and the child to have another pregnancy.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>4. <!–[endif]–>If the husband can not afford to support any more children.
Epigee Womens Health (http://www.epigee.org/guide/islamic.html) also has some very interesting reads about ‘Birth Control & Religion’ as well as citing the above reasons which birth control is permissible. The Epigee article also goes into aspects of courtship, sex before (not allowed) and sex within marriage, birth control and the sensitive subject of abortion.
Lastly, Jannah.org (http://www.jannah.org/sisters/famplan.html) has an online article which comprises the views and thoughts of multiple scholars on the issue of birth control in Islam.
I found that there are pages of links when doing a search using the terms islam and birth control.
Since I started this post with informal findings by simply asking random Saudi women about this topic, I’d like to end it with readers sharing their views. If you are muslim, how do you feel about birth control? While the links site specific findings and guidance, what are your personal views on the topic?
As I understand according to the predominant tradition and culture in the Kingdom, it is unusual for a woman to enter into marriage while using birth control. The tradition and culture expects for a newly married couple to give birth within the first year of marriage. As such, it would also be unlikely for an unmarried woman to be able to obtain any kind of birth control such as birth control pills, diaphragm or IUD prior to marriage. What are readers views on this practice and tradition?
Thanks Tina for asking I write a post on this topic. I enjoyed the research and opportunity to learn more on this topic.