Question # 150: Is family planning allowed in Islam such as usage of contraceptives, protection etc.?
Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: It is permissible to use temporary means of contraception, if there is a valid shar’i reason (for example, fear that the pregnancy might endanger the life or health of the mother, fear that the new pregnancy might harm a previous suckling child or to increase the gap between pregnancies in order to give the children a proper Islamic upbringing). The use is subject to the condition that this does not result in harm and that the means is acceptable according to shari’ah and will not damage any existing pregnancy. However, such use of contraception requires the consent of wife because she has a right both to sexual enjoyment and to decide whether or not she wants a child. Islamic evidence indicates that it is permissible to delay having children by engaging in ‘azl (coitus interruptus, a form of contraception, whereby the husband ejaculates outside the wife’s vagina in order to avoid pregnancy). Nonetheless, it is haraam to remove the ability of men and women to have children, which is known as sterilization, so long as there is no need to do so according to shar’i principles.
Long Answer: The meeting of the Fiqh Council held during its fifth conference in Kuwait 1-6 Jumaada al-Aakhir 1409 AH (10-15 December 1988) – after studying the research presented by members and experts on the subject of family planning, and listening to the debate that took place on this topic, and based on the fact that one of the objectives of marriage according to Islamic shari’ah is to reproduce and preserve the human race, and that it is not permissible to undermine this objective, because undermining it goes against the texts and teachings of shari’ah, which call for having many children, protecting them and taking care of them, because producing and caring for offspring is one of the five kulliyaat (holistic principles) which shari’ah came to take care of – issued the following resolutions [Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم): “Marry the loving and fertile, for I will compete with the other Prophets with the number of my followers.” (Abu Dawood, an-Nasa’i and others: Sahih)]:
- It is not permissible to issue laws that limit the freedom of couples to have children.
- It is haraam to remove the ability of men and women to have children, which is known as sterilization, so long as there is no need to do so according to shar’i principles.
- It is permissible to use temporary means of contraception in order to increase the gaps between pregnancies, or to stop them for a limited period of time, if there is a valid shar’i reason for doing so, based on the couple’s estimation and with mutual consultation and agreement, subject to the condition that this does not result in harm and that the means is acceptable according to shari’ah and will not damage any existing pregnancy.
(Resolution no. 38 (1/5), re: Family planning. See Majallat al-Majma’)
According to Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the following are the valid reasons for use of contraception:
- Fear that the pregnancy or delivery might endanger the life or health of the mother; past experience or the opinion of a reliable physician are the guides in determining this possibility.
- Fear that the burden of children may strain the family’s circumstances so much that one might accept or do something haraam to satisfy their needs.
- Fear that the new pregnancy or a new baby might harm a previous suckling child. It is to be noted that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did not prohibit intercourse with a nursing mother as the period of suckling may last up to two years.
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal is of the opinion that contraception requires the consent of the wife, because she has a right both to sexual enjoyment and to decide whether or not she wants a child. It is narrated that ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) forbade the practice of coitus interruptus without the consent of the wife. (‘The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam’ by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi)
[Furthermore,] …Islamic evidence indicates that it is permissible to delay having children by engaging in ‘azl [coitus interruptus, a form of contraception, whereby the husband ejaculates outside the wife’s vagina in order to avoid pregnancy]. As Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah (رضي الله عنه): “We used to engage in ‘azl at the time when the Qur’an was being revealed.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
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.” (Fataawa Noor ‘ala ad-Darb by Ibn Baaz ed. by ash-Shuway‘ir)
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Taking contraceptive measures is permissible in principle, because the Sahabah (رضي الله عنهم) used the method of ‘azl (coitus interruptus) during the time of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم), 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. (Fataawa Noor ‘ala ad-Darb by al-‘Uthaymeen) He also said: “With regard to using temporary means of preventing pregnancy, such as when a woman gets pregnant easily and pregnancy is exhausting for her, and she wants to space her pregnancies so they will be two years apart and so on, this is permissible so long as her husband gives his permission and so long as that will not cause her any harm.” (Risaalat al-Dimaa’ al-Tabee’iyyah li’l-Nisa’)
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: “With regard to ‘azl, some of the scholars regarded it as haraam, but the view of the four imams is that it is permissible with the wife’s permission.” (Majmoo’ al-Fataawa)
Lastly, it is narrated in as-Sahih from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri that they asked the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) about ‘azl (coitus interruptus) and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “It does not matter if you do it, for there is no soul that Allah has decreed should exist but it will exist. (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim) This means that ‘azl is of no benefit in warding off what Allah has decreed of offspring.
(Some part of the above reply is based on various answers provided by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on the topic)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.