Can married couples space children in order to give them a proper upbringing, or for other reasons?
We hope that our brother will be certain that not one of the scholars said that it is obligatory for a couple to produce children, and that if they do not produce twenty children then they are sinning and deserve to be punished by Allah!
Similarly, not one of the earlier or contemporary scholars – as far as we know – has said that it is the fate of the wife to have a baby and breastfeed every single year, or that if the couple choose to delay pregnancy and having children, that is haram.
We mention these facts to you, and ward off doubts based on illusion, so that we can introduce the Islamic ruling, first of all, and so as to highlight that everything that you mentioned in your question is not an argument that has any sound basis, because the Islamic ruling is far removed from what you mentioned in your question.
In fact, the Islamic evidence indicates that it is permissible to delay having children. As Jaabir ibn ‘Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with said): “We used to engage in ‘azl [coitus interruptus, a form of contraception] at the time when the Qur’an was being revealed. Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5208) and Muslim (1440). ‘Azl (coitus interruptus) means ejaculating outside the woman’s vagina in order to avoid pregnancy.
Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) quoted this hadith as evidence for it being permissible to space having children in order to give them a proper Islamic upbringing, when he said:
If a woman has a lot of children, and it is difficult for her to give them a proper Islamic upbringing because they are so many, then there is nothing wrong with her taking something to space her pregnancies in order to achieve this important purpose, so that pregnancy will not adversely affect her or her children, as Allah has permitted ‘azl for this and similar purposes.
End quote from Fatāwá Noor ‘ala ad-Darb by Ibn Baaz ed. by ash-Shuway‘ir (21/394)
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Taking contraceptive measures is permissible in principle, because the companions of Prophet Muhammed= Sahaabah (may Allah be pleased with them) used the method of ‘azl (coitus interruptus) during the time of the Messenger (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), and he did not forbid them to do that. But it is contrary to what is preferable, because having a lot of children is something that is prescribed and is desirable.
End quote from Fatāwá Noor ‘ala ad-Darb by al-‘Uthaymeen (22/2)
On our website we have previously stated that it is encouraged to have a lot of righteous children.
So, you may rest assured that if you and your wife decide to delay having children, as you mentioned in your question, that is not regarded as a sin or disobedience in principle, unless there are other considerations that have an impact on this individual or personal choice, which may be dictated by present-day circumstances:
If the decision to delay having children is widespread, at the societal, national, or ummah-wide level, then in this case it becomes a destructive and negative choice, and in that case the ruling is that it is not allowed, because it has moved from being a permissible and natural matter to one that is imposed from without and will lead to negative consequences and is therefore blameworthy.
If the motive for delaying having children is fear for their provision and livelihood, then this reflects a serious doubt concerning our belief in the will and decree of Allah and our belief in the abundant provision of Allah and that He will help those who strive to earn a living in the land. It reflects an unjustified fear of the future and a failure to produce and strive. In that case it is blameworthy and is not allowed, and there are clear fatwas that speak of it.
This issue has been covered in fatwas to clarify these matters.
If the reason for not having children is arguments and conflict between the spouses, where one of them does not want children and the other one does, then the one who is refusing does not have the right to do so, because having children is a right of both spouses, and it is not permissible for one of them to refuse with no excuse or good reason.
If the motive for delaying having children, or ceasing to do so, is to follow the cultural norms of non-Muslims and imitate them blindly, out of admiration for their culture and infatuation with their way of life, then undoubtedly the ruling in this case is that it is not allowed.
One of the great principles of Islamic teaching is that the individual Muslim should be independent in his thinking and think within the framework of Islamic teaching; he should weigh up pros and cons objectively in the light of the
circumstances that he lives in, and base his decisions on the Islamic principles in which he believes and with which he grew up, far removed from the illusionary psychological influences that are imposed by the media that represents the corporate powers that exist today, and should free himself from feelings of inferiority in the face of what he sees of the attitudes, customs and actions of the disbelieving nations.
If the means of delaying having children is medicine or surgical procedures that will prevent having children altogether (sterilisation), so that the woman or her husband will lose the ability to ever have children, then this is a serious transgression and is ingratitude for the blessing of Allah that He has bestowed upon His slaves, and it is destruction of a great blessing that Allah has instilled and created in them on the basis of great wisdom.
The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) forbade such things. This is the case concerning which there is no difference of opinion among the scholars that it is prohibited, for it is the undermining of one of the most important aims of Shari’ah=Islamic law and a blatant violation of one of the five necessities that Islam came to protect, which are: religious commitment, life, honour, wealth, and offspring.
These five cases are what the scholars refer to when they speak about spacing or limiting the number of children. They are the reason why they spoke in strict terms in many cases, so that no one would take undue advantage of the fatwas which say that contraception is permissible.
That is why we have mentioned these five cases here, so as to draw attention to them. In any other case, where a couple take an individual decision on the basis of a genuine need, there is no blame on them for that.
Is it permissible to use birth control because one is afraid to have children due to the corruption of society?
We put this question to Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen, may Allah preserve him, who replied:
So long as this is the intention, then it is not permissible to do this, because it reflects a lack of trust in Allah regarding the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who said “Marry the one who is loving and fertile…” But if the birth control has to do with the condition of the woman – because she cannot cope with repeated pregnancies – this may be permissible, but it is better not to do it. Question:
Do you mean that it is more important to pay attention to the woman’s condition than to the corrupt nature of society? Answer: Of course, because there is no certainty that one’s children will be corrupt; they may be righteous people who will bring benefits to society. And Allah knows best.
Ongoing contraception is haram except in cases of necessity.
Islam encourages people to get married and have children so as to increase the numbers of the Muslim ummah and to make the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) proud before all other nations on the Day of Resurrection, and in accordance with human nature (fitrah).
The Prophets themselves (blessings and peace of Allah be upon them) asked Allah to bless them with righteous offspring. Allah tells us that Ibrahim (peace be upon him) said:
“My Lord! Grant me (offspring) from the righteous”
And Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And (remember) Zakariyya (Zachariah), when he cried to his Lord: ‘O My Lord! Leave me not single (childless), though You are the Best of the inheritors’”.
Allah tells us of many of the du’a’’s=verbal prayers of the righteous, such as the verse in which He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And those who say: “Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders of the Muttaqoon (the pious)”
People will remain like that so long as their nature (fitrah) remains sound.
We stated that ongoing contraception such as using the birth control pill and the coil is haram.
A woman should not use birth control pills unless the following two conditions are met:
(1) She should have a reason for that such as being sick and unable to bear a pregnancy every year, or being physically weak, or having other reasons why getting pregnant every year would be harmful for her.
(2) Her husband should give his permission because the husband has the right to have children. This must also be done in consultation with a doctor, to find out whether taking these pills will be harmful to her or not.
If these two conditions are met, then it is OK for her to use these pills, but that should not be on a permanent basis, i.e., she should not use the type of birth control pills that prevent pregnancy permanently, because this is preventing progeny.
(Fataawa al-Mar’ah al-Muslimah, 2/657, 658)
Concerning the harms caused by contraception, the Shaykh (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Birth control pills: I have heard from several sources that doctors say they are harmful. Even if we do not know this from the doctors, we know it from ourselves, because preventing something natural that Allah has created and decreed for the daughters of Adam is undoubtedly harmful. Allah is Wise, and He has only created this blood which flows at certain times for a reason. If we prevent it with these medicines, that is harmful without a doubt.
But I have heard that the matter is worse than we imagine that they may be a means of damaging the womb, and a means of causing nervous disorders. This is something we must beware of.
(Liqaa’ al-Baab al-Maftooh, question no. 1147)
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked:
What is the ruling on removing the uterus to avoid having children for medical reasons which are either present, or may occur in the future and have been predicted by medical and scientific means?
He answered: if that is necessary, then it is OK, otherwise it should not be done, because the Lawgiver urges us to have children and promotes that to increase the size of the ummah. But if there is a necessary reason then it is OK, just as it is permissible to use means of contraception for a limited time for a legitimate shar’i=legitimate Islamic reason. (9/434)
What is said concerning the birth control pill may also be said concerning the coil. It has been definitely proven by the doctors that this contraceptive method causes harm, especially when it is used continually. It is known that the woman who has a coil inserted has an increased flow of menstrual blood, and her period may come twice a month, which causes an iron deficiency in her body.
Iron is one of the important minerals which the body needs. Some women may become anemic when they use the coil and it makes their periods longer, resulting in the woman losing a large amount of blood and thus a large amount of the iron stored in the body. It has also been proven that many women suffer infections of the uterus because of using the coil. Despite all this, a woman may become pregnant with the coil in place, as has happened to several women. We ask Allah to keep us safe and sound.
But an exception is made to that in cases of necessity – as is the sharia=Islamic law principle regarding all haram=forbidden things, as it allows them in cases of necessity. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“He has explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you, except under compulsion of necessity.”
So, if a woman is weak or sick and will be harmed by pregnancy or there is fear for her life because of that, then it is permissible for her to use that which will prevent pregnancy.
In research prepared by the Standing Committee for Academic research and Issuing Fatwas it says:
Based on that, limiting the number of offspring is haram in general, and contraception may be haram except in rare individual cases that are not general in application, such as if the pregnant woman will have to give birth in a manner other than that which is usual, and she will have to have surgery to bring the child forth; or if the woman’s health or life will be at risk due to pregnancy.
In such cases contraception is permitted as an exception because of the likelihood of harm, to preserve her life, because Islam seeks to bring benefits and ward off harms, and to advance the greater of benefits and reduce the harm in the case of a conflict. End quote.
Majallat al-Buhooth al-Islamiyyah (5/127).
Shaykh Ibn Baaz was asked about a woman who had given birth to ten children, and now pregnancy would cause her harm, and she wanted to have an operation to have her tubes tied.
There is nothing wrong with her having the surgery mentioned, if doctors have determined that giving birth will harm her, and if her husband allows that. End quote.
Fataawa al-Mar’ah al-Muslimah (5/978).
Shaykh Ibn Jibreen said:
It is not permissible to have surgery to end or prevent pregnancy except in cases of necessity, when trustworthy doctors have established that giving birth will harm her or make her sickness worse, or there is the fear that pregnancy and childbirth will likely lead to her death.
But it is essential that the husband give his approval to the ending or prevention of pregnancy. Then when the excuse ends the woman should go back to normal. End quote.
Fatāwá al-Mar’ah al-Muslimah (2/977).
Based on this, if what happened to you was caused by pregnancy, then it is a passing thing that was caused by sickness or weakness which it is hoped will pass. In that case you can use contraceptives on a temporary basis, until Allah heals you. But if it is an ongoing problem for which there is no hope of an end, then there is nothing wrong – in sha Allah – with you using contraception on an ongoing basis.
Anyone who reflects on the statement of the International Islamic Fiqh Council no. 39 (1/5), which has to do with family planning, will clearly understand that the way in which it is drafted is careful and clear, as we have explained above. It says in the statement:
The session of the Islamic Fiqh Council held during its fifth conference in Kuwait, 1-6 Jumaada al-Aakhir 1409 AH/10-15 December 1988 AH.
After studying the research papers presented by council members and experts on the topic of family planning, and listening to the discussion that took place on the topic,
And based on the fact that one of the aims of marriage according to Islamic teaching is to produce children and preserve the human race, and that it is not permissible to undermine this aim, because undermining it is contrary to the texts of Islam and their teachings which call for having a lot of offspring, protecting them and caring for them because protecting offspring is one of the five holistic principles that are promoted by Islamic teaching,
The council determined the following:
Firstly: it is not permissible to promulgate laws restricting the freedom of couples to have children.
Secondly: it is prohibited to completely eradicate the ability to have children in the case of either the man or the woman, which is known as sterilisation, so long as there is no necessary reason, according to Islamic standards, for doing so.
Thirdly: it is permissible to use temporary methods of birth control for the purpose of spacing pregnancies, or preventing pregnancy for a specific length of time, if there is a valid reason, according to Islamic teachings, for doing so, according to what a couple decide on the basis of mutual consultation and consent, on condition that this does not lead to any harm and that the method used is Islamically permissible and does not cause harm to any existing pregnancy. End quote.
Allah knows best.
Almighty Allah is the highest and most knowledgeable, and the attribution of knowledge to him is the safest.
Right from Almighty Allah and wrong from me and Satan
Prepared by Mohamad Mostafa Nassar- Australia.
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