Islamic Point of View on Abortion
Islamic views on abortion are shaped in Hadith and the opinions of religious and legal scholars as well as commentators. The fetus, in Islam is believed to become a living being after 4 months after conception and from that point onwards, abortion is not permissible. The Qur’an, in principle condemns killing of humans (except as capital punishment or in cases of defense) but does not talk explicitly about abortion.
As a result of this, Islamic theologians hold different views with majority of the earliest theologians permitting abortion within the first forty days of the pregnancy and in some countries, within the first one hundred and twenty days. While there is no outright approval of abortion in Islam, there is no direct ban on it either.
All schools of Islam law however agree that abortion can be permitted in certain circumstances for instance if the pregnancy puts the life of the mother in danger. This is the only condition upon within abortion is permitted within the first 120 days of pregnancy.
Different schools of thought also hold different views on whether there should be other reasons permitted for abortion and the duration within which it should be permitted. While there are scholars who permit abortion, they still view it as wrong though they don’t regard it as punishable. It is considered a greater wrong if the pregnancy is more advanced.
The Quran does not refer to abortion explicitly but it offers guidance on matters that are related to the issue. The Islamic view on abortion is based on the high level of priority that faith gives to sanctity of life and the Qur’an 5:32 states ‘Whosoever has spares the life of a soul, it is as though he had spared the life of all people. Whosoever has killed a soul, it is as though he has murdered all of mankind’.
Islam permits abortion to cave the life of the mother as it sees it as ‘the lesser of two evils’. There is a general Sharia (Muslim law) of choosing lesser of two evils because:
- The life of the mother is well established
- The mother has responsibilities and duties
- The mother is already part of the family
- Allowing the mother to die in most cases could also lead to the death of the fetus
- The mother is viewed as the ‘originator’ of the fetus
Islam also states clearly that the fetus should not be aborted because the family is afraid it will not be in any position to provide make provisions for it but rather, trust in Allah to take care of things-Qur’an 17:32-‘Kill not your offspring for fear of poverty; it is We who provide for them and for you. Surely, killing them is a great sin’.
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