Q. Is Birth Control permissible in Islam and if so, what methods i.e. pills, withdrawal etc.?
A. Birth control undoubtedly carries with it many negative effects and has brought about fatal consequences. Many Islamic scholars have written at great length on the harms of birth control. However, seeing that there may be valid reasons to avoid a pregnancy, the jurists of Islam have given allowances in certain cases and have not given a general non-restricted permission for it. As such, practicing birth control simply to meet the demands of present day trends or social reasons has not been allowed. Practicing birth control for the sake of remaining single, young and beautiful or for the sake of not being burdened with children and other similar worldly reasons are not allowed in Islam. Sometimes, young women practice birth control in order to keep-up with their social activities, and at times, in order to maintain their ‘shape’ and ‘figure’. These are not valid reasons in the Shariah, and birth control in these cases would not be allowed.
With respect to some of the valid reasons for reversible/temporary methods of birth control, the jurists of Islam have mentioned the following: –
1) Where a woman is forced to seek employment to maintain her children or family, or on account of desperate circumstances, temporary birth control can be adopted.
2) For the sake of spacing children, it is allowed to adopt birth control in order to allow a reasonable time period between the births of two children so that each child receives adequate attention of the mother in its upbringing. In the difficult task of nourishing, training and educating a child, the complete attention of the mother is required. If a baby is born every year, then it is extremely difficult to provide the necessary care and attention for each child.
3) For medical reasons, if an experienced and reliable physician in all honesty and sincerely, is of the opinion that having children would endanger a mother’s physical health, then it is permissible for the couple to practice reversible/temporary methods of birth control. The same ruling applies to the mother who is physically cripple, and is unable to care for a child, or if she is suffering from psychiatric illness.
4) If it is the opinion of a reliable and experienced physician that there is a high risk of a baby being born with a serious genetic disease, then it is permissible to adopt reversible methods of birth control.
5) In cases of sickness or physical weakness (of the wife), reversible methods of birth control is allowed.
6) In cases where a girl is too young for pregnancy or a woman is too old – reversible birth control will be allowed.
Other similar cases will also bring about the allowance to adopt reversible/temporary methods of birth control.
With respect to the methods that are permissible for birth control, then it must be understood that the reversible forms are permissible once they do not bring about a permanent measure of barring the woman from pregnancy in the future. Some methods which are currently used and are permissible are: – the pill, condom, diaphragm, the loop when it acts as a preventive measure against fertilization, withdrawal- with respect to this method, some scholars have stated that the wife’s consent is needed.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan