Is it religiously permissible to use condoms, contraceptive pills and similar methods for birth control? How does Islam view birth control?

The Details of the Question
Is it religiously permissible to use condoms, contraceptive pills and similar methods for birth control? How does Islam view birth control?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Birth Control:

What is essential in Islam is not to prevent children from being born and to bring up a faithful generation which the Messenger of Allah will take pride in due to its number. Therefore, one should not avoid having several children.

However, today’s conditions make it difficult to bring up and feed several children, to equip them with Islamic ethics and to bring up a generation that the Messenger of Allah will take pride in; the family might face a lot of difficulties. In this case, parents prefer to have fewer children, as many as they can take care of and bring up; they want to use birth control methods. However, what can be done for birth control? How can parents control the number of children that they can take care of without having any spiritual responsibilities?

Here lie the hesitations and difficulties.

When we examine the issue, we will see that the most harmless method that has been used since the time of the Prophet is coitus interruptus (withdrawal method); the scholars have not objected to it very much because in this method, the sperm of the man and the egg of the woman cannot unite in the uterus and the thing (alaqa), that is, the base of human embryo does not form; the elimination of a human candidate is not in question.

Apart from this measure taken by the man, it is stated in the valuable fiqh book of Ibn Abidin that the woman has the right to close the opening of the womb. The woman can use her right to close the opening of her womb.

Those measures to be taken by both sides are unobjectionable because pregnancy is prevented by these two methods; elimination of a being is not in question.

The judgment about coitus interruptus is valid for the methods that are used for contraception like, pills, condoms, intrauterine devices, etc because they are regarded within the same context. The evidences about the permissibility of coitus interruptus are regarded like that too because they are similar. On the other hand, since it is permissible to prevent contraception through coitus interruptus by the man, then, it is permissible for the woman to prevent contraception, too, because the judgment is about preventing pregnancy no matter how.

The worry and doubt of prohibition is related to the phase of pregnancy after the sperm unites with the egg of the woman. That is, it is in question after the pregnancy starts. Then, this question comes to mind:

– Do birth control pills and especially intrauterine devices prevent pregnancy or do they eliminate a being that has formed?

According to the information given by the experts of medicine in seminars, the intrauterine devices used in birth control generally prevent pregnancy.

Naturally, the religious judgment is based on the general situation; therefore, using intrauterine devices is regarded to be permissible. 

Hayrettin Karaman gives detailed information about the issue in his book called “Hayatımızdaki İslam” and states the judgment that we have mentioned above about intrauterine devices. It is necessary to find detailed satisfactory information about the issue in this valuable book. It is stated in the book that intervention after pregnancy is not permissible. Doubtlessly, the soundest view is this first view because there is no risk of eliminating a being here. 

The second view, which lengthens the period of birth control to the phase after pregnancy, is stated by Prof Dr Hamdi Döndüren in his book, “Aile İlmihali”.

According to Hamdi Döndüren, those who have legitimate excuses can have birth control within the first forty-five days of pregnancy.

It is stated in this second view that the responsibility lessens as the excuse gets more serious and the responsibility increases as the excuse gets less serious. 

There also exists a third view. It is the view of some of the fiqh scholars of the previous periods based on their incomplete knowledge of medicine; they say a woman can have her baby aborted before it is four months old because its organs do not become apparent until then.

Those who oppose this view are in majority. Some scholars describe it as a murder.

Today, the advanced devices of medicine determine that life starts and the organs start to form the moment the sperm fertilizes the egg. Therefore, it is stated that to say that the fetus, which becomes apparent so early, can be aborted before it is four months old is based on the lack of knowledge in the past.  

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