Permitted and Prohibited Methods of Contraception – Part III

which_method-HUBThe Viewpoint of Scholars

In 1988 a Fiqh council held in Kuwait issued certain resolutions regarding the methods of contraception. These were based on the fact that one of the objectives of marriage, according to Shariah, is to reproduce and preserve the human race. It is not permissible to undermine this objective, as it goes against the teachings of Shariah, which call for having many children.

The resolution stated:

(1) It is not permissible to issue laws that limit the freedom of couples to have children.

(2) It is Haram to remove the ability of men and women to have children (known as sterilization) as long as there is no need to do so according to Shariah principles.

(3) It is permissible to use temporary means of contraception, in order to increase the gaps between pregnancies, or to stop them for a limited period of time, if there is a valid Shariah reason for doing so. This should be based on the couple’s estimation and with mutual consultation and agreement subject to the condition that this does not result in harm and that the means is acceptable according to Shariah and will not damage any existing pregnancy.

It is permissible to engage in Coitus Interruptus (Azl), if a person does not want a child. It is also permissible to use a condom, if the wife gives her permission for that, because she has the right to full enjoyment and to having a child. The evidence for this is the Hadeeth of Jabir ibn Abdullah (rta) who said: “We used to engage in Coitus Interruptus at the time of the Messenger of Allah. News of that reached the Messenger of Allah, and he did not forbid us to do that.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Although that is permitted, it is, nevertheless, Makrooh (intensely disliked) The Prophet (sa) said about Coitus Interruptus: “That is the secret burying alive of infants” (Muslim).

An-Nawawi said: “Coitus Interruptus means intercourse, in which, when ejaculation approaches, the man withdraws and ejaculates outside the vagina. It is Makrooh in our view in all circumstances and with all women, whether the woman consents to that or not, because it is a means of preventing offspring. Hence, in the Hadeeth it is called ‘the secret burying alive of children,’ because it cuts off the means of producing offspring, like killing a newborn by burying him or her alive. With regard to it being Haram, our companions said that it was not forbidden.”

Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen said: “What Muslims should do is to have as many children as they can, because this is the command issued by the Prophet (sa): ‘Marry the one, who is loving and fertile, for I will be proud of your great numbers before the nations [i.e., on the Day of Resurrection].’ (Abu Dawood)  Increasing the number of children increases the size of the Ummah, and being of great numbers is a source of pride, as Allah (swt) said, reminding the Children of Israel: ‘And We helped you with wealth and children and made you more numerous in man-power.’” (Al-Isra 17:6)

Great numbers of Muslims would lend the Ummah pride and strength, not poverty and hunger, as some might think. If the Ummah increases in number, relies on Allah, and believes in His promise: “And no moving (living) creature is there on earth but its provision is due from Allah” (Hood 11:6), then Allah (swt) will make things easy for them and will grant them sufficient means from His Bounty.

Regarding the use of birth control pills, Fatawa Al-Marah Al-Muslimah states that a woman should not take them, unless the following two conditions are met:

(1) She should have a reason for it, such as being sick and unable to bear a pregnancy every year, or being physically weak, or having other reasons, why getting pregnant every year would be harmful for her.

(2) Her husband should give his permission, because the husband has the right to have children. This must also be done in consultation with a doctor, in order to find out, whether taking these pills will be harmful for her or not.

If these two conditions are met, then it is acceptable for her to use these pills, but that should not be on a permanent basis, i.e., she should not use the type of birth control pills that prevent pregnancy permanently, because this is preventing progeny.

Concerning the harms caused by contraception, Shaikh Ibn Uthaymeen said: “Birth control pills a number of doctors say are harmful. Even if we do not know this from the doctors, we realize that preventing something natural that Allah has created and decreed for the daughters of Adam is undoubtedly harmful. Allah is Wise, and He has only created this blood, which flows at certain times for a reason. If we prevent it with these medicines, that is harmful without a doubt. It may also be a means of damaging the womb, and a means of causing nervous disorders. This is something we must beware of.”

Shaikh ‘Abd Al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz was asked: “What is the ruling on removing the uterus, in order to avoid having children for medical reasons, which are either present, or may occur in the future and have been predicted by medical and scientific means?”

He answered: “If that is necessary, then it is acceptable; otherwise, it should not be done, because the Law giver urges us to have children and promotes that, in order to increase the size of the Ummah. But if there is a necessary reason, then it is OK, just as it is permissible to use means of contraception for a limited time for a legitimate Shariah reason.”

The same applies also to the use of the coil. It has been proven that this contraceptive method causes harm, especially when it is used continually. It is known that the woman, who has a coil inserted, has an increased flow of menstrual blood, and her period may come twice a month, which causes an iron deficiency in her body. Some women may become anemic and suffer from infections of the uterus. Also, a woman can become pregnant with the coil in place.

Shaikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: “With regard to Azl, some of the scholars regarded it as Haram, but the view of the four Imams is that it is permissible with the wife’s permission. It is permissible for the spouses to agree on family planning, so long as that is not permanent and subject to the condition that the means used do not harm the woman.”

Practicing contraception is really a judgment call. Only husband and wife can decide, whether they mean to limit their family for selfish reasons (such as a luxurious standard of living, freedom in mobility, or pursuit of a career by the woman), or there is a genuine problem behind their decision. Whatever the reason may be Allah (swt) knows every soul’s deep intentions.

Permitted and Prohibited Methods of Contraception in Islam – Part II

which_method-HUBIn the last issue, we looked at the permissibility of birth control in Islam as well as the process of fertilization. The thumb rule is: any method that prevents fertilization of a mother’s egg and father’s sperm is allowed, whereas a method that destroys a fertilized Zygote (Nutfah) or is an irreversible process is not permitted.

With this perspective, let us now analyze the options available to us.

Common Methods of Contraception

1) Natural methods

Rhythm method

An egg can be fertilized only during the day or so after ovulation. Sperm can live in the female reproductive tract for up to 6 days. So intercourse that takes place more than 5 days before or 2 days after ovulation is unlikely to lead to pregnancy. Abstinence during this period is called the rhythm method. Women need to know exactly, when they ovulate, by measuring their body temperature and/or levels of hormones by a urine test.

Withdrawal method (Azl)

The husband withdraws from the wife’s vagina before the release of sperm. This method was practiced during the time of the Prophet (sa).

2) Chemical methods

They are also known as spermicidal chemicals. Chemicals such as nonoxynol 9 are inserted in the vagina – these are all acidic and inactivate the alkaline sperm. They are usually available in the form of soaps, foams or jellies.

3) Mechanical barriers

These prevent husband’s sperm from entering the wife’s vagina.


This is a sheath of thin flexible material (such as latex) worn by the husband. They are highly effective and are the most commonly used form of contraception in Pakistan.


This is a rubber dome placed at the upper end of the vagina. They may be used alongside spermicidal chemicals.

Cervical cap

This is an impermeable cap fitted over the wife’s cervix. It may be left in place until menstruation.

4) Hormonal methods

Oral combined pill

This is also called an oral contraceptive pill (OCP). It contains a combination of two synthetic hormones: estrogen and progestin. The estrogen works in the ovaries to prevent ovulation (release of egg) by giving negative feedback. The two most commonly prescribed OCPs in Pakistan are Nordette (by Wyeth) and Marvelon (by Organon).

Oral progesterone only pill (POP pill)

This is also known as the mini pill. It contains a very low dosage of the hormone progestin. It does not inhibit ovulation but creates local changes, which interfere in either fertilization or implantation of the fertilized zygote. This type of pill is not currently available in Pakistan.

5) Intrauterine devices (IUD)

For centuries camel drivers in northern Africa inserted a stone in the uterus of their female camels before starting on a long trek. This prevented the animal from becoming pregnant on the journey.

The intrauterine device (IUD) accomplishes the same purpose. It must be inserted by a physician. A variety of materials (usually containing some copper) and shapes are used.  Coils (Cu 7 & CuT) and Lippes Loop are commonly used. Research indicates that it is the presence of a foreign body within the uterus that makes conditions unfavorable for implantation of the fertilized zygote.

IUDs have caused such bad side effects (e.g., infections of the uterus and fallopian tubes) that only two types remain on the U.S. market! They are used in Pakistan as well. One is Mirena® – it releases a progestin and can be left in place for up to 5 years.

6) Sterilization:

These are irreversible processes.

Tubal ligation

A woman’s fallopian tubes (both of them!) are cut and tied, so that no egg can be fertilized. It requires incision(s) and must be done under anesthesia.


A man’s reproductive tubules in the testes are cut near the top of the scrotum. It can be done in the doctor’s office with a local anesthetic in 30-40 minutes.

We need to educate ourselves and spread awareness about the various types of contraception options. Otherwise, there are chances of getting pressurized by family planning workers or ‘well-meaning’ gynecologists to use a particular method increases, if we have no idea how it works. It is mostly lack of awareness that leads women and families to make unwise birth control choices or none at all. Sterilization and IUDs are recommended by doctors, who themselves are most probably not aware of their consequences.

Having identified the permissible methods available to us, the choice of method of contraception is ultimately a personal one. We must consult a medical practitioner to determine that it is a safe way.

Permissible Birth Control Methods

Method Why permissible?Intervention before fertilization
Rhythm No artificial intervention
Withdrawal No artificial intervention
Combined pill No egg release
Condom No sperm entry
Diaphragm No sperm entry
Cervical cap No sperm entry
Spermicidal chemicals Inactivates sperm

Non-Permissible Birth Control Methods

Method Why not permissible?Intervention after fertilization or irreversible process
Intra Uterine Devices (IUDs) e.g. coil Egg and sperm present – kills zygote
Progestin only pill: POP pill Egg and sperm present – kills zygote
Vasectomy (male sterilization) Irreversible process
Tubal ligation (female sterilization) Irreversible process











Permitted and Prohibited Methods of Contraception in Islam – Part I

which_method-HUBBirth control or contraception, is any method used to prevent pregnancy. It is an often taboo; and controversial topic. Myths related to all ‘gynea’ issues are perpetuated among women! What the gynecologist doesn’t tell us, we seldom ask.

There are two positions regarding birth control in our society. One is completely or partially ignorant about related issues; the other is involved in predominantly western-inspired debates about women’s fertility rights. One considers mere mention of birth control as sacrilege and Haram; the other propagates campaigns driven by population control theories usually promoted by international NGOs. The result is a mostly blurred picture.

Our Deen asks for a rational middle direction. Contraception is not prohibited in Islam. It is permissible as long as it is reversible and doesn’t involve termination of pregnancy.

During the Prophet’s (sa) time the withdrawal method (known as Azl) was used, as is evident in several Hadiths.

Jabir Ibn Abd Allah (rta), the notable companion of the Prophet (sa) relates: “We used to engage in `Azl’ while the Quran was being revealed. Had it been something that was interdicted, the Quran would have forbidden it.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

The Prophet’s (sa) basic response, regarding the lawfulness of the practice was that individuals may do as they will, but if Allah (swt) intends for a child to be born she/he will be.

By correlation general acceptance of the Azl can be expanded to include most modern forms of birth control.

Imam Ghazali in his “Ihya’ Ulum al-Din” lists a number of legitimate reasons for practicing contraception: financial difficulty; emotional or psychological hardship of having many children; and even the preservation of beauty and health.

Faraz Rabbani ( sums up: “Contemporary Fuqaha state that contraception is permitted, if the husband and wife agree, as there is nothing in the Quran or Sunnah to prohibit it; rather, the Hadiths and practice of the companions of the Prophet (sa) indicate permissibility. This is said by jurists across the schools of Islamic law. Even jurists, who stated that it is disliked, mentioned that if there is a sound reason or benefit to engage in contraception, then it is not disliked. In our times, this would include reasons, such as having a manageable family size, when one does not have the support of extended families in raising the children; the desire to give the children the attention, education, and support they need in difficult times; genuine (physical or emotional) health reasons, and so on.”

The permissibility of contraception does not in any way contradict the Quran’s and Sunnah’s encouragement for procreation. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Marry and multiply.” (Abu Dawood and Nasai)

Keeping the ethos of Islam in mind, it is clear what contraception is not meant for. Easing ‘safe-sex’ outside of marriage. Population control. Blurring the lines between preventing pregnancy and abortion.

Islam believes that every individual’s right to life is a basic human right. Hence, the life of a fetus is sacred. Abortion is allowed only under extreme circumstances, such as when the mother’s life is endangered.

Are the birth control methods available to us today preventing pregnancy or taking a human life? We must analyze them. First, how is a human being made? Only then can we fully comprehend why certain methods of birth control are prohibited in Islam.

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “Thereafter We made him (offspring of Adam) as a Nutfah (and lodged it) in a safe lodging (womb). Then We made the Nutfah into a clot, then We made the clot into a little lump of flesh, then We made out of that little lump of flesh bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, and then We brought it forth as another creation. So Blessed is Allah (swt), the Best of Creators.” (Al Muminun 23:13-14) (See also Al Hajj 22:5)

1400 years after Allah (swt) revealed to us His process of creation, science sheds light on it.

A woman’s ovary releases an egg every month, a process called ovulation. During this time, if a father’s sperm (released from his testes during intercourse) finds this egg in the fallopian tube of the mother, they fuse. This is called fertilization – the formation of a Nutfah.

After fertilization, the Nutfah burrows into the lining of the uterus: its safe lodging. This is implantation. Allah’s (swt) wonder is such that after ovulation hormones prepare the lining of the uterus to receive and nourish the egg, if fertilized and implanted.

Securely implanted, the outer cells of the Nutfah start connecting with the mother’s blood vessels to form the placenta. Then with Allah’s (swt) will, the process of creation continues till the baby is ready to be born after nine months.

When exactly does this mother’s egg and father’s sperm become another human being?

Dr Diane N. Irving, a Canadian human embryologist, gives scientific evidence for when life begins. “Before fertilization, the egg and sperm each have only 23 chromosomes. They possess ‘human life,’ since they are parts of a living human being; but they are not each whole living human beings themselves. They do not have 46 chromosomes -the number necessary and characteristic for a single individual member of the human species. The fusion of the sperm (with 23 chromosomes) and the egg (with 23 chromosomes) at fertilization results in a live human being, a single-cell human zygote with 46 chromosomes.”

She rejects the claims that “the product of fertilization is simply a ‘blob,’ a ‘bunch of cells’, a ‘piece of the mother’s tissues, etc.’

The commonly used term, ‘fertilized egg,’ is especially misleading, since there no longer is an egg, once fertilization has begun. What is being called a ‘fertilized egg’ is not an egg but a human being.

Any method of birth control that destroys the Nutfah at any stage of its development is prohibited in Islam, because it is akin to taking a human life.

Insha’Allah, in the next issue we shall analyze contraception options available today and their permissibility for Muslims.