An Islamic Analysis of Abortion
One of the burning issues these days in Canada and in all Western countries is that of Abortion. In the absence of a specific law on abortion, the provincial governments are, in fact, groping in the dark. One court in Ontario allowed a woman to have abortion. The interesting thing, however, is that on her way out of the court, she announced that she already had abortion but she repented for doing so simply because she returned back to her boy-friend. So she no more supports the pro-abortion campaign in Canada. This statement was hailed by what is called pro-lifers in North America.
Another woman from Quebec, called Chantal Daigle, asked the court there to allow her have abortion of her 21 week pregnancy. The court prevented her from doing so. The woman, however, insisted and defied the court’s judgment. She did have abortion. Not only this but she resorted to the Supreme Court to change that decision. The Supreme Court gave its approval and repealed the prevention decision.
In the light of the above, it may be asked here: What is the attitude of Islam towards the issue of abortion? Is it true that women have full control over their bodies and they can have abortion anytime they wish? Or does Islam agree with those who say: “No, the fetus is a human being and has full human rights”? It has the right to live and to be protected. So it is a crime to have abortion? How does Islam look at this issue?
Basically, Islam considers life as a sacred gift from God Almighty. No one is allowed to take or stop the life of anyone else except by way of justice or according to the Islamic law. Thus, the Holy Quran says: “Say: Come, I will rehearse what God has really prohibited you from: Join nothing as equal with Him; be good to your parents, kill not your children on a plea of poverty; We provide sustenance for you and for them; approach not shameful deeds, whether open or secret; take not life, which God has made sacred, except by a way of justice and law (Chapter 6, Verse 151).
In another verse, the Holy Quran says: “Kill not your children for fear of want; it is We who provide sustenance for them as well as for you; for verily killing them is a great sin (Chapter 17, Verse 31).
What should we understand from these two verses? First of all, it is a grave sin to take the life of children for fear of want as was the habit during that period. Neither is it allowed to do so for any other reason unless a great evil is caused by the presence of the fetus that may cause the death of the mother.
But is the fetus a human being? Is it part of the woman’s body and she is free to do what she likes with it. This is the logic of modern materialistic way of life. Islam has something else to offer. It is completely different from all other concepts or religions. Here are a few details. As a comprehensive and unique way of life, Islam does not at all agree with those who say that a woman has full control over her body. This does not mean that Islam subjugates woman and puts them under men’s control. Islam considers our bodies as a trust, which we have to preserve and maintain. It also confirms that the fetus is the creation of Almighty God. No one, not even the mother, has the right to get rid of it unless its presence threatens the life of the mother. For in that case, Islam allows abortion within those limits only.
As a matter of fact, Islam encourages procreation when necessary. But it leaves the door open for birth control. Thus we are told by some companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, that they used a method of birth control during the time of revelation. The Prophet knew about it and yet he never asked them to stop using it. We have to confirm here that it is basic in Islam to believe that having children is not decided by parents but is part and parcel of God’s will and sole action. All that people can do is to try their human means leaving the decision to God.
The attitude of Islam can be better understood if we elaborate a little bit on the issue of sex. How does Islam look at sex between men and women? Does it allow free sex as long as it is agreed upon by the two adult partners as is the case nowadays with most of the non-Muslims nations so much so that the word “adultery” has been dropped from their dictionary? Or does Islam consider sex as a filthy sin that does not suit men of God?
Neither of these extremes is accepted in Islam. This last religion of God allows no sex whatsoever before or outside marriage. It, however, honors sex in marriage and raises it to a lofty standard. When a Muslim gets married he secures one half of his faith thanks to this contract. So sex in Islam is not at all a filthy sin as long as it is inside marriage. Not only this but a Muslim is rewarded even when he gratifies this desire. In one tradition the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “To cohabit with your wife is charity.” Hearing this the Companion asked: “O Messenger of Allah. Is it possible that each one of us will be rewarded when he satisfies his sexual desire?” He said: “Yes indeed.” Therefore, the Messenger of Allah concluded: “When he satisfies it lawfully he will be rewarded for it.” (Narrated by Muslim).
Thus Islam does not look at sex as an end in itself, but as a means to an end. The end of sex according to Islam is to have children. So, it is not allowed in Islam that a woman can have abortion simply because it is her wish to do so, under the pretext of keeping her beauty and to avoid responsibility. This is considered as selfishness. Should a pregnant woman make abortion without any justified reason such as the expectation of risk on the mother’s life, then this act amounts to murder according so Islam.
Islam is the religion of strong family relationships. Once marriage is achieved, the two partners should have no sex with anybody else. Not only this but Islam has imposed a severe penalty on those who commit adultery even before marriage. Thus the society Islam tries to establish is a pure and chaste society where women and men are modest. It is a society that does not raise the madness of sex nor does it exploit women’s bodies under the false claim of freedom. It is a pure society that is immune from all evils resulting from sex. It is thus free from AIDS, Herpes, and other evils and epidemics that became rampant in modern free-sex communities.
For humanity to be saved of all the ailments of modern civilization, it has to follow the laws of Islam in sex relationships. We can safely say that Islam’s attitude towards sex is the middle and the best attitude. Will people understand this and follow the path of happiness, Islam?
This was Written by Dr. Arafat El Ashi
Director: MUSLIM WORLD LEAGUE
For More Information Please Contact: MUSLIM WORLD LEAGUE 191 The West Mall, Suite 1018 Etobicoke, Ontario, M9C 5K8, CANADA. Tel: (416)622-2184 Fax: (416)622-2618