By Shaykh Salim Ghisa
The rule for contraception is different depending on the type of contraception used.
The basic ruling for contraception identifies two types:
1) Permanent Contraception
2) Temporary Contraception
1) Permanent Contraception
Any permanent form of contraception such as permanent sterilisation, the removal of ovaries, vasectomy etc is not permissible unless there is a risk of serious illness or death if it is not performed. The reasons for this are as follows:
1. A person is taking an unnecessary risk to their health by having such an operation or procedure.
2. A person is permanently changing the nature of the body from what Allah has created.
3. A person is taking away the right of any future husband or wife to have a say in whether a couple should try for children or not. Whilst the person may, in their current situation, choose not to have any more children, if their marriage were to break down or they were widowed and if they chose to remarry then their new partner has a right to a say in any future children they may or may not want.
2) Temporary/Reversible Contraception
Temporary contraception where it does not contradict the Shariah is permissible as long as both partners agree. It was a common practice of the companions of the Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) to perform ‘Coitus Interruptus’ (also know as `azl), meaning to withdraw from their partner just before ejaculation. Therefore, this was a form of temporary contraception.
Sayyiduna Jabir ibn Abd Allah (Allah be pleased with him relates that, "We used to engage in contraception (`azl) while the Qur'an was being revealed. Had it been something that was interdicted, the Qur'an would have forbidden it." [Bukhari (5209); Muslim (4220)]
There are also many other similar Ahadith allowing the permissibility of this type of contraception.
Other Types Of Temporary Contraception Allowed:
Please note permission must be obtained by both husband and wife before these are used.
Condoms – These are permissible and can be used without any problems.
Pill/Injection – The use of the contraceptive pill for the purpose of contraception is also permissible. Scholars have advised that it should not be used just to ‘delay’ the period because of Ramadhan or Hajj etc.
Coil – This should be avoided as it involves the insertion of the coil into the female private parts.
Sheath – Also should be avoided due to the same reason as the coil.
Reasons For Contraception
A person should not use contraception due to the fear of poverty because as believing Muslims our faith is that ‘Allah is the Best provider of Wealth’. Many people nowadays want to reduce children due to the fear that more children will mean more cost, hence a lower quality of life, but it is not proper for a Muslim to think in this manner due to their trust in Allah as the Provider.
A Muslim living in non-Muslim lands may use contraception to restrict the birth of children so they may concentrate on their existing children and their upbringing. Although it is also permissible to use contraception for the same reason in lands practising Islam openly. It is actually recommended by some scholars to use contraception in non-Muslim lands. The reason for this is that a person cannot depend on the environment to help their children practice Islam, for example in Muslim lands when it is the time for Salaah, the Azaan will be called loudly and all businesses will take a break and go to the Masjid etc. In non-Muslim lands this does not happen and therefore a parent needs to spend time on their children and educate them Islamically, therefore less children means more individual time for Islamic education.
Spacing children is a valid reason to use contraception. A mother has a right to look after her health and the health of her children. Therefore, she may space the time between children so she may gain her health back to full fitness and also look after her young.
A woman may also choose to use contraception to enable her to get her figure back and also to maintain her beauty (as long as both partners agree). There is no point a woman giving birth to many children one after the other if it means she will have no time to look after her physical appearance or no longer looks attractive to her partner, as this may lead to the breakdown of the marriage.
Contraception may be used if there is a high risk of an inherited disorder and that it may cause a child to be born with severe disability or harm the mother’s health.
If there is a risk of a marital breakdown then contraception may be used. If the couple are going through marital problems and the birth of a child may cause even more difficulty or there is a risk of the child being left with only one parent then the use of contraception is permissible.
Career development is not a valid reason for a woman to use contraception as it would mean that the role of a woman, as recommended by Islam, would be at risk. This would also mean obtaining financial benefit, which as discussed earlier is not a valid reason to use contraception.
Being away on a journey is a valid reason to use contraception so that a woman may not fall pregnant away from her home.
Enforced contraception through Governmental legislation is not permitted in Islam. The Muslims cannot allow in a democracy this sort of policy, which would mean people would be forced to use contraception to limit their children. If a country does force this type of law then a Muslim should seek means to leave that land. If they cannot and would be persecuted or their children would be taken away then they may use contraception.
Finally, any act of Haram would also make the use of contraception Haram i.e. illegal intercourse through fornication or intercourse when a woman is menstruating or anal intercourse, all the above are strictly prohibited and therefore the use of contraception is also strictly prohibited.
Of course Allah knows best.
Contraception: Halal or Haram?