What does Islam say about abortion?

Story by  Eman Sakina | Posted by  Aasha Khosa • 3 Months ago
A representational image
A representational image


Eman Sakina

Islam, like other religions, places a strong emphasis on the value of human life. However, Islam is a flexible religion that seeks to preserve life, but at times permits abortion, subject to some conditions.

One of the main goals of Islam is to preserve life. Therefore, murder or killing of an innocent soul is a major sin. “And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden to be killed except in the course of justice” (6:151). Similarly, having children is considered a blessing from God. Many Prophets in the Quran, such as Zakaria and Abraham, prayed to God to give them righteous children.

In Pre-Islamic Arabia, the Arabs had a strong bias toward male offspring and they used to bury their baby girls out of shame. The Quran condemned this brutal act “And when a daughter is announced to one of them, his face becomes black and he is full of wrath. He hides himself from the people when it is announced to him. Shall he keep it with disgrace or bury it (alive) in the earth? Now surely evil is what they judge” (16:58-59). The Quran and teachings of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, prohibited the killing of baby girls which was rampant at the time.

The first 40 days following conception are quite permissive when it comes to abortion. If there is a good cause for it and both parents are on board, most academics will let it during that time. Additionally, abortion is permitted in rape situations and when a parent is unable of raising a child due to physical or mental impairment. However, fear of poverty is not a justifiable excuse for child abortion. Financial concerns may influence a person's decision to forgo having children, but if one does, it is illegal to abort a kid out of fear of ending up in poverty.

After 40 days Muslim scholars have differed on the permissibility of abortion. However, if there is a threat to the mother’s health then an abortion would be permissible. In addition, if doctors discover a severe deformity to the unborn child that would prevent him or her from living a reasonable life, then she is allowed to have an abortion. Most modern scholars allow abortion in the first 40 days with some flexibility, but after that, they maintain that there must be a pressing need. This pressing need is not arbitrary, but one should consult with a Muslim scholar as well as medical experts.

After the first 120 days, it is believed that the child is given a soul. It is therefore categorically forbidden to abort the child unless the mother’s life is in danger. Abortion is also allowed if the fetus passes away in the mother’s womb.

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Islam seeks to preserve life and encourages couples to have children. At the same time, Islam understands that life can be complex at times and there are cases when abortions might be necessary (saving the mother’s life, pregnancy as a result of rape, etc.).