Family Planning




As-Salamu alaikum WRWB,

HADITH-5 CLASS-Fiqh-Family Law


See Hadith-A in Composition.

There is no doubt that Islam attaches a lot of importance to family system; marriage and procreation of progeny. And in the Quran Allah (SWT) has in numerous verses spoken of the blessings He has bestowed upon his prophets (AS) i.e. with children, signifying their importance. Allah (SWT) has said:

"We blessed him with Ishaq and Yaqub: all three We guided ...".

"Nay, I am only a Messenger from thy Lord (to announce) to thee the gift of a pure son".

"We blessed him with Yahya ..."

"We blessed Dawud with Suleiman". etc.

refering to Ibrahim, Maryam, Zakariya and Dawud (AS) respectively.

And He also said:

"And those who pray 'Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offsprings who will be the comfort of our eyes. And give us the grace to lead the righteous".

The prophet's sayings also infer that he regarded children as a blessing to the Ummah. He said:

"When an individual dies only three deeds follow him to the grave one of which is a righteous child that prays for him".

Once he prayed for his young servant, Anas Ibn Malik:

"Oh Allah increase him in wealth and children and bless him ..."

The prophet (SAW) also said:

"Marry the ones (women) that bear children that I be proud of you (among other prophets) on the day of judgement".

Furthermore there are instances where the prophet has prevented his followers from practicing castration (Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud), celibacy (Usman Ibn Maz'un) and from marriage
to beautiful but infertile women. These ahaadith suggest he encouraged having children.

Against this background, a number of ahaadith have been reported from the prophet (SAW) on Azl, or Coitus Interruptus (CI) - the main method of restricting conception and birth during his lifetime. The arguments for or against modern day family planning, by the Ulama, have largely been buttressed based on interpretation of these below-mentioned ahaadith:

A.    Abu Sa'eed Al-Khudri (RA) said: "We left with the messenger (SAW) for the battle of Bani Al-Mustaliq and we got some female slave girls and the loneliness (away from our wives) became prolonged and severe; We practiced coitus interruptus with them with the prophet among us. We asked him about that, He said there is nothing upon you that you don't do (Azl), there is not a person predestined to being up to the day of judgement, except that he shall be". (Bukh & Mus).

B.    Jabir Ibn Abdullah (RA) said: "We practiced coitus interruptus while the Qur'an was being revealed and the prophet became aware, and he did not forbid us. ... had there been anything wrong the Qur'an would have forbidden us". (Bukh & Mus).

C.    Abu Sa'eed Al-Khudri (RA) said that a man said: "O prophet of Allah, I have a slave girl who I wish to practice Azl on as I don't want her to conceive though I desire what men desire, and the jews are saying that Azl is a minor infanticide". The prophet (SAW) said "The jews lied. If Allah wills to create him, who can change it or prevent him".

In another narration the prophet is reported to have advised the man to practice Azl. (Ahm/Abu Dawud/Nisai).

D.    Judhama bint Wahab (RA) met the prophet (SAW) in a gathering and he was saying: "I wanted to stop the practice of ghila (pregnancy while breast-feeding), but I looked on romans and persians who practice it upon their children without ill-effects". Then he was asked about Azl and he replied: "that is minor infanticide". (Muslim).

The 'Ulamaa have deliberated on these ahaadith. Arguments have been advanced that aahadith A, B, C abrogated D or that D abrogated A, B, C or that the narrator
of hadith D, the less well known Judhama bint Wahab compared to Abu Sa'eed Al-Khudri & Jabir Ibn Abdullah is weaker or the hadith is weaker than A, B,  C.

Ibn Hajar says the statement "no sin upon you if you don't do" may either mean Azl is Ja'iz (allowed) or may imply certainty of blameworthiness if you do it. The Andalusian strict scholar, Ibn Hazm, believe that Judhama bint Wahab's hadith D abrogated other ahaadith A, B, C. Ibn Hazm therefore inferred that Azl to both slave and freeborn woman is haram. On the other hand, Ibn Taymiyyah and his disciple, Ibn Qayyim, maintained that Azl is permissible with a freeborn woman's permission, a view also held by the four Imams; Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafii and Hanbal. Imam Shawkani says "There is no conflict among Ulama in the permissibility of Azl with the condition that the freeborn has consented to it as she is a partner in the married life". Imam Al-Ghazali said: "..but Azl, i.e. for a man to ejaculate outside the womb in hope of avoiding conception, there are differences of opinion regarding its status permissible or reprehensible ... the opinion we hold is that it is allowed". He recounted a number of situations where it is allowed:

1.    For slave girls, it is not forbidden for him.

2.    When there is desire to preserve a woman's beauty and elegance so as to derive a more prolonged pleasure and also to prolong her youthful life for fear of divorce, here also it is not forbidden.

3.    Fear of too much difficulty with many children which will lead to difficulties and subsequently plunge people into sins, here also it is not forbidden.

4.    The medical experts tell us that there are other more effective methods of family which are divided for convenience into-reversible and irreversible methods. Reversible methods include Azl, Rhythm method, pills, condom, diaphragms, spermicides, intra uterine devices (IUD) and abortions.

The irreversible methods include surgery to the female birth apparatus: bilateral tubal ligation (BTL) or removal of the womb (hysterectomy) and to the male tract, vasectomy, similar to castration. Historically, the Arabs were the first to use foreign body - stones placed in the womb of their she-camels when travelling for long distances to prevent pregnancy in the she-camels. All the reversible methods except IUD and abortions do not need a third party i.e. a medical personnel, for execution; one needs a third party for
insertion of an IUD but the prophet (SAW) said:

"Allah curses the on-looker (of private parts) and the one whose genitalia are being looked upon".

The seeming advantage, if any, to me, does not outweigh the caution/curse narrated in the above hadith. Furthermore the prophet (SAW) also said:

"Do not do what is harmful to yourselves or others".

but of the methods, perhaps the pills are the ones associated with most ill-effects and in my opinion, pills, even though highly effective, should not be used for preventing conception. All scholars are agreed that abortion is haram after 4 months-120days within mothers' womb, as soul has been blown into the foetus. As the prophet (SAW) said:

"Do not kill life that Allah safeguards except only for a just cause".

But before soul is infused i.e. less than 120days, there are varied opinions. Among Maliki scholars, all of them believe abortion is haram after 40days of conception while most of them also believe it is haram even before 40days though few see it as only reprehensible (makruh), but Al-Lakhmi even see it as permissible then.

These discussions on abortion pertain to Shari'a justified abortions e.g. mothers or babies health not for leisure related births limitations. However few scholars permitted abortion less than 120days after conception even if the foetus is a product of adultery or fornication. As noted above, the prophet (SAW) prevented someone from castrating himself
and by extension all irreversible methods of family planning seem not justified, only for medical or health related reasons. Furthermore, they alter human natural physique as created by Allah SWT.

In view of these modern contemporary issues and after due consideration of purely Islamic viewpoints, some contemporary Ulama have analyzed and concluded on the matter of family planing:

Sayyid Sabiq concluded that "It preceded that Islam favours many children ... but that Islam does not forbid family planning by taking medicine or otherwise to prevent pregnancy as where a man has plenty of children and is not able train this children (islamically) and similarly if the woman is weak and/or because of frequency of pregnancy or the man
is poor or sickness in one or both spouses.

Sheikhs Mahmood Shaltoot and Tantawi also support the permissibility of family planing. Others like Sheikhs Dr Abdulaziz Ibn Al-Dardir and Abul Ala-Mawdoodi have been
reported to have vehemently opposed the whole concept of family planning. They argue that Allah (SWT) says:

"You should not kill your children for fear of poverty. We enrich both you and them".

Importantly, family planning should be viewed in the grand design of the imperialist's "new world order" and the zionist's forces trying to subjugate Islam and Muslim populations; a condom is nearly free in Nigeria compared to say in Europe. The United Nations'-(UNPF)-organized 1994 Cairo Conference indicates such moves. In Nigeria, the National Population Commission (NPC) set out the population policy 1987 which seeks to reduce child to woman ratio to two by early next century. The ulterior motives of these
international moves need to be appreciated by our muslim policy formulators. The increasing smallness of family size among muslim elites suggest that our enemies are gaining the upper hand without our appreciating it.

1.    Azl is largely regarded as permissible by most scholars. Family planning could be regarded also as permissible at individual couple level  particularly where there are health related indications.
2.    Consent of either spouse (both husband and wife) should always be necessary before embarking.
3.    Irreversible methods of family planning (as also abortion, I feel) should be regarded as haram.
4.    Reversible harmless methods that do not entail exposing ones nakedness would be more acceptable to the spirit of Islam e.g. condom, diaphragm, spermicides and rhythm methods.
5.    It is wrong to enact or enforce family planning in Muslim countries; It should be left to the discretion of individual couples to decide.
6.    Islamic Ummah should evaluate the ulterior motives of family planning as encouraged or indirectly enforced by the "new world order", and at the Ummah level, family planning should be regarded as makruh (reprehensible).

May Allah guide us amen and Allah knows best.



(This write up is an abridged form of a previous oral presentation)