In using any of the methods of birth control that are available, it is essential for the woman to have the consent of her husband
The uncontrolled growth of population this century has posed a huge dilemma and has brought with it irreversible damages to all aspects of life – including the environment that people live in and the health and welfare of the family. Keeping in mind that if the economic, societal and cultural factors do not expand to keep in line with the growth of population, then this population growth will definitely have a negative impact on the well being of the entire society.
In using any of the methods of birth control that are available, it is essential for the woman to have the consent of her husband and the wife is not permitted to go forth and use any of the methods without first taking the approval of her husband.
The following are some enquiries from Shia religious authorities regarding birth control:
Question 1: Generally speaking, is Islam is favour of birth control? In addition, is it permissible to make use of the various means to prevent pregnancy – such as medications – which are available?
Answer 1: (Islam) has given permission (for the use of these) and it is not a problem.1
Question 2: In relation to making use of the various forms of birth control, is it necessary to have the consent of the wife and husband?
Answer 2: The consent of the husband is mandatory.2
Question 3: Are we permitted – keeping in mind that we have knowledge concerning the health and cultural problems, etc… that result from an increase in population (and also keeping in mind that this task is also one of our responsibilities as specialists in the field of public and family health) – to disseminate information to others in relation to prevention of pregnancy, even if this is not requested (from us)?
Answer 3: First and foremost, it behooves the Administration in charge of the affairs of the Islamic land to use all means possible in increasing life expectancy – which is something that is desired by the holy law – and in the case where (such) correct management is put in place and if (still) we reach a point where it is not possible to manage a greater population, then birth control (information) should be disseminated.3
Question 4: Just as it is customary in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortion of the fetus when the woman’s life is in danger, with the permission of their husband, women make use of medicines and things such as an I.U.D.s (Intrauterine Device) (an item that is placed inside the womb), a galea, the diaphragm, creams, jells and injections – all of which prevent fertilization of the egg. Through this act, the men, with the consent of their wives, are spared from needing to use condoms (a rubber cover over the penis) and from practicing Coitus Interruptus (ejaculating outside of the woman).
We request you to please put in writing the Islamic injunction in relation to what has been mentioned (above).
Answer 4: If the issues mentioned do not entail any danger or lead to defects of the (private) parts, and the husband has given his permission, then they are not a problem.4
Question 5: Is the woman and her husband – who from the point of view of the society and culture (that they live in) and by keeping in the mind conditions that exist within their surroundings and who know that they do not have the ability to bring up their children – permitted to provisionally not have any children?
Answer 5: Preventing a pregnancy using the religiously approved methods is not a problem.5
Question 6: In the event that the permission of the husband is necessary however he will in no way permit (any form of birth control), then what should be done?
Answer 6: There is no other option except (to engage in birth control) with his permission.6
Question 7: In order to control population growth – according to the teachings of Islam – is it permitted for a woman to make use of the new methods of birth control such as the I.U.D., to have one’s tubes tied or birth control pills which would result in the prevention of pregnancy?
Answer 7: Temporary birth control methods such as the birth control pill and other things such as this – if they do not pose any imminent danger – are not a problem. However if the tying of the tubes of the womb of the woman is done for a logical reason and will protect the woman from an imminent physical or mental danger, then with the permission of the husband, this act in itself is not a problem.7
Question 8: There are various methods and means of preventing pregnancy and population control. Can a person who has information regarding these (various means and methods of birth control) voluntarily pick one of them (to use)?
Answer 8: As long as the Islamic position is maintained (in all of the methods of birth control), then it is not a problem.8
Question 9: Is it permissible for women to employ means of birth control to avoid pregnancy or not?
Answer 9: It is not a problem with the consent of her husband.
Question 9b: Assuming that it is permissible, what is the ruling of each of the following forms?
1) Through the use of birth control pills and other things like this?
Answer: It is not a problem.
2) Placing an instrument inside the womb to prevent pregnancy?
Answer: In itself, it is permitted, however there must not be any forbidden look or touch.9
Question 10: Is temporary birth control permitted for a healthy person through the use of the means and methods (available) which would prevent the fertilization (of the egg) from taking place?
Answer 10: It is not a problem as long as the husband and wife both consent to it.10
Question 11: Are the methods that are being propagated and recommended by the administrators within the sacred establishment of the Islamic Republic (of Iran) in relation to family planning and birth control without any impediment from the point of view of the Islamic teachings?
Answer 11: Simply having a method (of birth control) in vogue within the society does not constitute a religious confirmation that it is allowed or permissible according to the Islamic regulations.11
Question 12: If a temporary method of birth control hinges Interruptus on performing a forbidden act such as the doctor looking (at the private parts) of the patient of the same sex (woman doctor looking at a female patient and a man doctor looking at a male patient) or a male doctor treating a female patient, or the opposite (female treating a male), then in what instances is the impermissibility of this act revoked?
Answer 12: It is not permissible to look at and touch (the private parts of) another person – even if it is a doctor of the same sex and this act is forbidden except in cases of necessity which shares the same ruling as other acts of necessity (in the religion).12
Question 13: Is the religion of Islam in agreement with the (population) growth of the society?
Answer 13: Islam is in agreement with the growth of the society since with the growth in the number of Muslims, this is proof of the greatness and strength of them (the Muslims). However in some specific circumstances, (Islam) is not in favour of a (population) growth within the society.13
Question 14: Is it permissible for a woman – without the permission or consent of her husband – to exercise birth control so as to not get pregnant, such as using birth control pills?
Answer 14: If there is major harm in it (in her becoming pregnant), then it is permissible even if her husband is not happy with it.14
Question 15: In order to prevent pregnancy, many Muslim women take birth control pills and other medications, have injections or place an instrument inside themselves so that the fertilization does not take place and thus, they do not become pregnant. Is it permissible or not to stop the fertilization through the ways mentioned?
In addition, at the time of ejaculation, some men discharge outside of the woman or use a condom so that the sperm does not enter into the womb, rather, it stays inside the condom. From the Islamic point of view, is this act permissible or not?
And also, does the woman being healthy or sick change the ruling in this issue?
Answer 15: In the stated question, if any of the methods used for preventing pregnancy would result in a defect to the sexual organ and would result in infertility, then it is not permissible. However if these do not result in the defect of the sexual organ, rather, they temporarily prevent fertilization, then it is not a problem as long as it does not result in any other complications to the body. Nevertheless, this act should not be prolonged since it is preferable to have a large number of Muslims.
However if the pregnancy poses a physical danger or risk to the woman, then she is fully permitted to use birth control for as long as the danger persists.
In relation to men, if ejaculating outside of the woman is done without the consent of his wife, then it is reprehensible.15
Enquiries from the Religious Authorities in regards to Semen Testing
Question 1: In order to know if a man is able to father a child or not, in some hospitals they require the man to masturbate so that the semen can be sent to the laboratory for examination. Is this act permissible or not?
Answer 1: It is forbidden (haram).16
Question 2: Examination of a man’s sperm necessitates masturbation, however not performing this test is not of vital importance – is it permissible to perform this act?
Answer 2: If it not necessary (to do this test) to cure an illness, then it is not permissible. However in the case of necessity, the ruling of this act is the same as the ruling of other forbidden acts.17
Imam al-Ridha (peace be upon him) has said: “The person who struggles through the permitted means to provide for his family is similar to the combatant who fights in the way of Allah.”
Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 104, Page 72, Hadith 14 & Fiqh al-Ridha
Imam `Ali (peace be upon him) has said, “Always be a companion with your wife and always deal with her in a pleasant manner so that you may have a pleasant life.”
Makarimul Akhlaq, Page 218
Enquiries from the Religious Authorities in regarding to Preventing Pregnancy
Question 1: Is it permissible for the husband to employ methods of birth control to prevent his wife from becoming pregnant? If it is permissible, then what is the ruling on using the methods listed below?
Answer 1: It is not a problem.
Question 1a: Ejaculating outside of the woman without her approval?
Answer 1a: It is permissible.
Question 1b: Ejaculating outside of the woman with her approval?
Answer 1b: It is permissible.
Question 1c: Using a condom or special medication to prevent pregnancy?
Answer 1c: It is permissible.18
Question 2: Is it permissible to use the method of coitus interruptus to prevent pregnancy?
Answer 2: In itself it is not a problem however one must make sure that no other haram act is performed and the woman must have the permission of her husband (to employ this method).19
Question 3: What is the ruling on coitus interruptus utside of the woman – and is it necessary to have the approval of one’ spouse for this?
Answer 3: It is not a problem and it is not necessary to have the consent of the wife.20
The selection taken from the book “Islamic Ethics on Family Planning”.
• 1. Blood money/ransom (Tr.)
• 2. This ceremonial bath must be performed if a person touches the dead body of another person after the body has become cold and the corpse itself has not been given the ceremonial bath. (Tr.)
• 3. Imam Khumayni (may Allah be pleased with him), Islamic Medical Issues
• 4. Imam Khumayni (may Allah be pleased with him)
• 5. Imam Khumayni (may Allah be pleased with him)
• 6. Imam Khumayni (may Allah be pleased with him), Religious Enquiries
• 7. Ayatullah Khamene’i, Islamic Medical Issues
• 8. Ayatullah Khamene’i, Islamic Medical Issues
• 9. Ayatullah Khamene’i, Islamic Medical Issues
• 10. Ayatullah Khamene’i, Islamic Medical Issues
• 11. Ayatullah Khamene’i, Islamic Medical Issues
• 12. Congenital absence of most of the brain and spinal cord
• 13. Ayatullah Makarim Shirazi, Islamic Medical Questions
• 14. Ayatullah Makarim Shirazi, Islamic Medical Questions
• 15. Ayatullah Makarim Shirazi, Islamic Medical Questions
• 16. Ayatullah Makarim Shirazi, Islamic Medical Questions
• 17. Ayatullah Fadhil Lankarani, Islamic Medical Questions
• 18. Ayatullah Fadhil Lankarani, Islamic Medical Questions
• 19. Penalty (Tr.)
• 20. Ayatullah Fadhil Lankarani, Islamic Medical Questions