Is contraception permissible in Islam?

Contraception

Question:

Is contraception permissible?

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh. 

Contraception can be divided into two categories:

1)     Irreversible (or permanent) contraception

2)     Reversible (or temporary) contraception[1]

 

Irreversible contraception

Irreversible contraception is usually carried out by means of a sterilisation operation.  Normally, there are two types sterilisation operation; one is performed on the male and the other on the female. 

Male sterilisation (vasectomy)

Male sterilisation involves severing the vas, the tubes which deliver the sperm from the testes to the penis, through an incision in the scrotum. This procedure is usually performed in a doctor’s office using local anaesthetic and takes less than thirty minutes.[2]

Female sterilisation (tubectomy or tubal ligation)

When a woman ovulates, an egg is shed from the ovary and moves down the fallopian tube. If the egg meets a sperm, conception takes place. Sterilisation blocks the path of the sperm through the tube. Eggs are still released by the ovaries, but are broken down and safely reabsorbed by the body.

The operation usually involves cutting or blocking the fallopian tubes, which carry eggs from the ovaries to the womb. This prevents the eggs from reaching the sperm and becoming fertilised. It can be a fairly minor operation, with many women returning home the same day.
As the ovaries aren’t affected by this procedure, periods will continue as normal, with the ovaries continuing to release the same hormones. Tubal occlusion doesn’t cause menopause or affect a woman’s sexual desire or pleasure. [3]

Islamic viewpoint on irreversible contraception

Under normal circumstances, irreversible contraception, whether it is in the form of vasectomy or tubectomy, is absolutely prohibited in Shari’ah. 

Islamic law has prohibited castration.  Sa῾d ibn Abi Waqqās radiallahu anhu narrates,

“The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam forbade ῾Uthmān ibn math῾ūn radiallahu anhu from abstaining from marriage.  If he had allowed him, we would have castrated ourselves.”[4] (Sahīh al-Bukhāri)

Abdullah ibn Mas῾ūd radiallahu anhu says,

“We used to engage in Jihād with the Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam and we had no one (with whom we could fulfil our desires).  So we asked if we could get ourselves castrated.  The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam forbade us from doing so.” [5]

Ibn Abidīn rahimahullah categorically states that castration is impermissible.[6]

The common thread between vasectomy and castration is that both destroy the power of reproduction in a man, although the ability to have conjugal relations still exists in both.  Mufti Abdur Raheem Lajpuri rahimahullah states that the action of permanently preventing reproduction is impermissible, hence under normal circumstances irreversible contraception is impermissible.[7]  Mufti Khalid Saifullah Rahmani hafizahullah states the same in kitāb al-fatāwā.[8]  The impermissibility is further endorsed in Ahsan al-Fatawa. 

Despite the clear prohibition of male and female sterilisation, scholars mention that in cases of absolute necessity, it will be permissible to carry out an irreversible method of contraception.[9]  The scholars should be consulted to gauge the necessity in any specific case.  

Reversible contraception

Contraceptives work by preventing a man’s sperm from fertilising a woman’s egg, and this can be done in several different ways.

There are two main types of contraception: 

1)     Barrier methods - which physically prevent sperm from swimming into the uterus and fertilising the woman’s egg.

2)     Hormonal methods - which alter a woman’s hormonal cycle to prevent fertilisation.[10]

 

The general ruling with regards to reversible contraception:

Allāmah Kāsāni (Allah have mercy on him) states in Bada’i` al-Sana’i`,

“It is disliked to engage in contraception (`azl) with one’s wife without her permission. This is because intercourse with ejaculation is the means to having a child, and having a child is her right. By resorting to contraception [without her permission], having a child is prevented, which is akin to being a reason for not fulfilling her right.

However, if the contraception was with the wife’s agreement (rida), then it is not disliked. In such a case, she will have willingly forgone her right.”[11]

The Fuqahā’ further mention that to practice reversible contraception without any reason is somewhat discouraged (makrūh tanzīhī). 

If reversible contraception is practiced due to a valid reason, then it will be permissible without any dislike whatsoever.  For example:

a)     A woman is weak and unable to sustain pregnancy at the moment.

b)    Being on a journey or away from home.

c)     When there is discord between the husband wife and divorce seems likely.

d)    Fear of older siblings being subjected to any form of difficulty if another child is born.

e)     Fear that the child will become corrupt due to the corruption in the time and area one dwells in.

f)      Spacing out children in order to give them adequate and equal attention.[12]

Some forms of contraception are enumerated below: 

1)     Coitus interruptus/withdrawal method (῾azl)

Coitus interruptus, also known as ‘withdrawal’ or the pull out method, is Latin for ‘interrupted intercourse’. What happens is that the man pulls out his reproductive organ out from that of his spouse before ejaculation. [13]

This was a common method in the time of the Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam. [14]

This method is permissible as explicitly stated by the Fuqahā

2)     The rhythm method

This method is also known as fertility awareness, periodic abstinence or the calendar method. It is a way of avoiding pregnancy by simply not having intercourse during the days when a lady ovulates. 

The rhythm method of contraception is far less reliable. It is based on the average 28-day menstruation cycle. The idea is to time sexual intercourse outside of the period of ovulation.

This method is also permissible by way of analogy on the withdrawal method.

3)     Condoms

There are two types of condoms; male and female. A condom is a barrier contraceptive – it blocks the route a sperm would take to fertilise an egg. They can be made from latex rubber, polyurethane, or lambskin.

Condoms stop the sperm from reaching the egg. It creates a physical barrier – this barrier makes sure fertilisation (pregnancy) does not occur. Apart from being made mainly of very thin latex rubber or polyurethane, male condoms contain a lubricant, as well as a spermicide that either destroys or damages the sperm. Extra spermicide is also available in most pharmacies. [15]

Using a male condom is permissible also. A condom will not be regarded as a foreign object being inserted into the female’s private part.  Instead, it will be regarded as a tābi (follower in ruling) of the male private part as without the male reproductive organ it cannot be used.  Hence, it is dependent on the male reproductive organ. 

However, a female condom will be disliked as it is inserted into a female’s inner private part independently.

4)     Intra-Uterine Devices (IUD)/coils/loop

This is also known as IUCD, coil, loop and the copper T.  An IUD is a small, T-shaped plastic device that is wrapped in copper or contains hormones. The IUD is inserted into one’s uterus by a doctor. A plastic string tied to the end of the IUD hangs down through the cervix into female private part. The IUD can be checked to see if it is in place by feeling for this string. The string is also used by the doctor to remove the IUD.  Research shows an IUD works before fertilisation occurs.[16]

There are different types of IUDS:

Hormonal IUD:

The hormonal IUD, such as Mirena, releases levonorgestrel, which is a form of the hormone progestin. The hormonal IUD appears to be slightly more effective at preventing pregnancy than the copper IUD. The hormonal IUD is effective for at least 5 years.

Copper IUD:

 The most commonly used IUD is the copper IUD (such as Paragard). Copper wire is wound around the stem of the T-shaped IUD. The copper IUD can stay in place for at least 10 years and is a highly effective form of contraception.

Both types of IUD prevent fertilisation of the egg by damaging or killing sperm. The IUD also affects the uterine lining (where a fertilised egg would implant and grow).[17]

This is somewhat disliked and discouraged.  The Fuqahā have stated that it is disliked to insert something into a woman’s private area without any pressing need.[18] 

5)     Diaphragms

The diaphragm is a dome-shaped bowl made of thin, flexible rubber that sits over the cervix.  The diaphragm keeps sperm from entering the uterus by blocking the cervix. For added protection, spermicide is put into the bowl of the diaphragm and along its edges before inserting the diaphragm high into a woman’s genital’s so it covers the cervix.

The diaphragm is inserted up to 6 hours before having relations.  More spermicide must be used each time a girl has relations while wearing the diaphragm.  Additional spermicide should also be used if a girl is going to have relations more than 3 hours after she inserted the diaphragm. After relations, the diaphragm must be left in for at least 6 hours, but no longer than 24 hours. The diaphragm can be removed by placing a finger into the woman’s private parts to pull it out.

 This is somewhat disliked and discouraged also.  The Fuqahā have stated that it is disliked to insert something into a woman’s private area without any pressing need. 

 6)     Oral contraceptive pills

The oral contraceptive pill (also called “the Pill”) is a daily pill that contains hormones to change the way the body works and prevent pregnancy. Hormones are chemical substances that control the functioning of the body’s organs. In this case, the hormones in the Pill control the ovaries and the uterus.

Most birth control pills are “combination pills” containing a combination of the hormones estrogen and progesterone to prevent ovulation (the release of an egg during the monthly cycle). A woman cannot get pregnant if she doesn’t ovulate because there is no egg to be fertilized. The Pill also works by thickening the mucus around the cervix, which makes it difficult for sperm to enter the uterus and reach any eggs that may have been released. The hormones in the Pill can also sometimes affect the lining of the uterus, making it difficult for an egg to attach to the wall of the uterus.[19]

Oral contraceptive methods are permissible to use also provided there is no harm.  One should consult a doctor before using these pills. 

7)     Contraceptive injections

Contraceptive injections contain a progestogen hormone which is similar to the natural progesterone that women produce in their ovaries.

There are two types of injection. Depo-Provera protects one from pregnancy for 12 weeks and Noristerat protects for eight weeks. Both of these are very effective.  The main way they work is to stop the ovaries releasing an egg each month (ovulation). They also: 

  • Thicken the mucus from the cervix. This makes it difficult for sperm to move through it and reach an egg.
  • Make the lining of the uterus (womb) thinner so it is less likely to accept a fertilised egg.

The hormone is injected into a muscle, usually into one’s bottom. Depo-Provera can also sometimes be given in the arm.[20]

This method is permissible also provided there is no harm.  One should again consult a doctor to see if it is a suitable method for one. 

8 )     Implant

An implant is a small flexible rod that is placed just under the skin in the upper arm. It releases a progestogen hormone similar to the natural progesterone that women produce in their ovaries and works for up to three years.

The main way it works is to stop the ovaries releasing an egg each month (ovulation). It also: 

  • Thickens the mucus from the cervix. This makes it difficult for sperm to move through the cervix and reach an egg.
  • It makes the lining of the uterus (womb) thinner so it is less likely to accept a fertilised egg.

This method is permissible also provided there is no harm.  One should again consult a doctor to see if it is a suitable method for one.  

9)     progestogen-only pill (POP)

The progestogen-only pill (POP) contains a progestogen hormone which is similar to the natural progesterone women produce in their ovaries.

Progestogen-only pills are different to combined pills because they do not contain any estrogen. 

The POP works in a number of ways:                    

  • It mainly works by thickening the mucus from the cervix. This makes it difficult for sperm to move through it and reach an egg.
  • It makes the lining of the uterus (womb) thinner so it is less likely to accept a fertilised egg.

It sometimes stops the ovaries releasing an egg (ovulation). This is the main action of one POP, Cerazette. This may mean that Cerazette is more effective than other POPs, but research has not yet confirmed this.[21]

This method is permissible also provided there is no harm.  One should again consult a doctor to see if it is a suitable method for one.  

     10)  IUS (Intrauterine system)

An IUS is a small T-shaped plastic device which releases a progestogen hormone. This is similar to the natural progesterone that women produce in their ovaries.

A trained doctor or nurse will put the IUS into the uterus (womb). The IUS has two soft threads at one end which hang through the opening at the entrance of one’s uterus – cervix – into the top of one’s private organ.

This is somewhat disliked and discouraged.  The Fuqahā have stated that it is disliked to insert something into a woman’s private area without any pressing need.[22]  

      11) The contraceptive vaginal ring

The contraceptive vaginal ring is a flexible, transparent, plastic ring. It is placed in the vagina where it releases two hormones – estrogen and progestogen. These are similar to the natural hormones that women produce in their ovaries and are like those used in the combined pill.

The vaginal ring releases a constant dose of hormones into the bloodstream through the vaginal wall. The main way it works is to stop the ovaries from releasing an egg each month (ovulation).

It also thickens the mucus from the cervix. This makes it difficult for a sperm to move through it and reach an egg.  It makes the lining of the uterus (womb) thinner so it is less likely to accept a fertilised egg.

It is disliked to use the contraceptive vaginal ring. 

12) Birth control patches

The birth control patch is a thin, beige, 1¾-inch (4½-centimetre) square patch that sticks to the skin. It releases hormones through the skin into the bloodstream to prevent pregnancy. Hormones are chemical substances that control the functioning of the body’s organs.

The combination of the hormones progesterone and oestrogen in the patch prevents ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovaries during a girl’s monthly cycle). If an egg isn’t released, a girl can’t get pregnant because there’s nothing for a male’s sperm to fertilise.

The hormones in the patch also thicken the mucus produced in the cervix, making it difficult for sperm to enter and reach any eggs that may have been released. The hormones can also sometimes affect the lining of the uterus so that if the egg is fertilised it will have a hard time attaching to the wall of the uterus.[23]

This method is permissible provided there is no harm.  One should consult a doctor to see if it is a suitable method for oneself. 

In conclusion, the withdrawal method, the rhythm method, condoms, contraceptive pills, injections, implants, POP’s and birth control patches are permissible to use.  A doctor should be consulted before adopting any method. 

Diaphragms, IUDs, coils, loops, IUSs and contraceptive vaginal rings are disliked and should not be used.

 

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mufti Faraz ibn Adam al-Mahmudi
www.darulfiqh.com

 


[1] http://www.essortment.com/types-birth-control-63181.html

[2] http://www.contracept.org/vasectomy.php

[3] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/female-sterilisation/Pages/Introduction.aspx

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Female_sterilisation

[4]وفي صحيح البخاري

عن سَعْد بْنَ أَبِي وَقَّاصٍ، يَقُولُ: «رَدَّ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَلَى عُثْمَانَ بْنِ مَظْعُونٍ التَّبَتُّلَ، وَلَوْ أَذِنَ لَهُ لاَخْتَصَيْنَا» (رقم الحديث 4786)

[5] وفي صحيح البخاري

عَنِ ابْنِ مَسْعُودٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، قَالَ: كُنَّا نَغْزُو مَعَ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لَيْسَ لَنَا نِسَاءٌ، فَقُلْنَا: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، أَلاَ نَسْتَخْصِي؟ «فَنَهَانَا عَنْ ذَلِكَ» (رقم الحديث 5071)

[6] وفي الدر المختار من نسخة رد المحتار

وَأَمَّا خِصَاءُ الْآدَمِيِّ فَحَرَامٌ (ج 6 ص 388 أيج أيم سعيد)

وفي فتح باب العناية

ولا يجوز خصاء الآدمي لأنه تمثيل به وهو حرام.(ج 5 ص 180)

[7]   كذا في فتاوى رحيمية ج 10 ص 183 دار الإشاعت

[8]  كذا في كتاب الفتاوى ج 6 ص 229 زمزم

[9] كذا في فتاوى رحيمية ج 10 ص 182 دار الإشاعت

[10] http://www.avert.org/birth-control-contraception.htm

[11] وفي بدائع الصنائع

وَيُكْرَهُ لِلزَّوْجِ أَنْ يَعْزِلَ عَنْ امْرَأَتِهِ الْحُرَّةِ بِغَيْرِ رِضَاهَا؛ لِأَنَّ الْوَطْءَ عَنْ إنْزَالٍ سَبَبٌ لِحُصُولِ الْوَلَدِ، وَلَهَا فِي الْوَلَدِ حَقٌّ، وَبِالْعَزْلِ يَفُوتُ الْوَلَدُ، فَكَأَنَّهُ سَبَبًا لِفَوَاتِ حَقِّهَا، وَإِنْ كَانَ الْعَزْلُ بِرِضَاهَا لَا يُكْرَهُ؛ لِأَنَّهَا رَضِيَتْ بِفَوَاتِ حَقِّهَا (ج 2 ص 334 دار الكتب العلمية)

[12]  كذا في أحسن الفتاوى

[13] http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/sex_relationships/facts/coitusinterruptus.htm

 

[14]  وفي صحيح البخاري

عَنْ جَابِرٍ، قَالَ: «كُنَّا نَعْزِلُ عَلَى عَهْدِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَالقُرْآنُ يَنْزِلُ» رقم الحديث 5209)

[15] http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/152833.php

[16] http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/sex_relationships/facts/contraceptivecoil.htm

[17] http://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/intrauterine-device-iud-for-birth-control

[18] وفي ذخر المتأهلين

(ويكره وضعه) أي: وضع جميعه (في الفرج الداخل) لأنه يشبه النكاح بيدها , “محيط”. (ص 170 دار الفكر)

وفي البحر  الرائق

وَفِي شَرْحِ الْوِقَايَةِ ثُمَّ وَضْعُ الْكُرْسُفِ مُسْتَحَبٌّ لِلْبِكْرِ فِي الْحَيْضِ وَلِلثَّيِّبِ فِي كُلِّ حَالٍ وَمَوْضِعُهُ مَوْضِعُ الْبَكَارَةِ وَيُكْرَهُ فِي الْفَرْجِ الدَّاخِلِ. اهـ.

وَفِي غَيْرِهِ أَنَّهُ سُنَّةٌ لِلثَّيِّبِ حَالَةَ الْحَيْضِ مُسْتَحَبَّةٌ حَالَةَ الطُّهْرِ وَلَوْ صَلَّتَا بِغَيْرِ كُرْسُفٍ جَازَ.(ج 1 ص 193 أيج أيم سعيد)

 

وفي شرح الوقاية

ثُمَّ وَضْعُ الكُرْسُفِ مُسْتَحَبُّ للبكرِ في الحيض، وللثَّيب في كلِّ حال، وموضعُهُ موضعُ البكارة، ويُكْرَهُ في الفرج الدَّاخل

(وفي بين السطور “عللوه بأنه يشبه إدخال اليد مع الاستغناء عنه) ج1 ص 122 مكتبة إمدادية

 

وفي المحيط البرهاني

ومما يتصل بهذا النوع من المسائل (32ب1) أن اتخاذ الكرسف سنّة عند الحيض، الثيّبْ يستحب لها اتخاذ الكرسف بكل حال لأنها لا تأمن خروج شيء منها فيحتاط في ذلك خصُوصاً في حالة الصلاة. وأما البكر فيستحب لها وضع الكرسف في حالة الحيض فلا يستحب لها ذلك في غير حالة الحيض. والطاهر إذا صلّت بغير كرسف وأمنت أن يخرج منها شيء جازت صلاتها، والأحسن أن تضع الكرسف. وعن محمد بن سلمة البلخي رحمه الله أنه يكره للمرأة أن تضع الكرسف في الفرج الداخل، قال: لأن ذلك يشبه النكاح بيدها.(ج 1 ص 401-400 إدارة القرآن)

وفي رد المحتار

وَفِي شَرْحِ الْوِقَايَةِ: وَضْعُ الْكُرْسُفِ مُسْتَحَبٌّ لِلْبِكْرِ فِي الْحَيْضِ وَلِلثَّيِّبِ فِي كُلِّ حَالٍ، وَمَوْضِعُهُ مَوْضِعُ الْبَكَارَةِ، وَيُكْرَهُ فِي الْفَرْجِ الدَّاخِلِ. اهـ.

وَفِي غَيْرِهِ أَنَّهُ سُنَّةٌ لِلثَّيِّبِ فِي الْحَيْضِ مُسْتَحَبٌّ فِي الطُّهْرِ، وَلَوْ صَلَّتَا بِدُونِهِ جَازَ. اهـ (ج 1 ص 289 أيج أيم سعيد)

 

[19] http://kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/contraception/contraception_birth.html

[20] http://www.fpa.org.uk/helpandadvice/contraception/contraceptiveinjection#how-it-works

[21] http://www.fpa.org.uk/helpandadvice/contraception/progestogenonlypillpop

 

[23] http://kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/contraception/contraception_patch.html

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