Family Planning 

Family planning is the practice of controlling the number of children in a family and the intervals between their births, primarily through the use of contraceptive methods

Family planning is not inherently sinful or haram; in fact, using contraception is allowed in Islam. However, various factors could influence whether such a choice is deemed permissible. It’s essentially based on your intentions. Let’s explore some of these considerations: 

  • If the decision to delay having children becomes widespread at the societal, national, or ummah level, this might be seen as harmful. Such a scenario could shift from being a personal choice to a collectively imposed one, leading to negative social consequences and thereby being considered impermissible.
  • Delaying childbirth due to fears about financial provision and livelihood signifies a lack of trust in Allah’s will and abundant provision. This indicates an unfounded fear of the future and reluctance to strive, which is not permissible as outlined by numerous fatwas.
  • If disagreements and conflicts between spouses are the reason one party wishes to delay children while the other desires them, this is not Islamically permissible. Both spouses have a right to have children, and one cannot unilaterally refuse without a valid excuse.
  • Imitating non-Muslim cultural norms and delaying childbirth out of admiration for their lifestyle is incorrect. Islamic teachings emphasize independent and objective decision-making within the framework of Islamic principles, free from external psychological influences.
  • If delays in childbirth involve medical or surgical methods that result in permanent sterilization, this is seriously transgressive. Such actions show ingratitude for Allah’s blessings and destroy a significant capability bestowed with great wisdom, as the Prophet (ﷺ) clearly forbade such practices.

This is based on the hadith where the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:

دْنَا أَنْ نَعْزِلَ، وَقُلْنَا نَعْزِلُ وَرَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم بَيْنَ أَظْهُرِنَا قَبْلَ أَنْ نَسْأَلَهُ فَسَأَلْنَاهُ عَنْ ذَلِكَ فَقَالَ ‏ “‏ مَا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنْ لاَ تَفْعَلُوا، مَا مِنْ نَسَمَةٍ كَائِنَةٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ إِلاَّ وَهْىَ كَائِنَةٌ

“…So when we intended to do coitus interrupt us, we said, ‘How can we do coitus interruptus before asking Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) who is present among us?” We asked (him) about it and he said, ‘It is better for you not to do so, for if any soul (till the Day of Resurrection) is predestined to exist, it will exist.”

Sahih al-Bukhari 4138

If withdrawal is seen in such light, then sterilization is forbidden because it permanently prevents pregnancy and interferes with the divine plan for procreation.

These five scenarios highlight crucial situations the scholars consider when discussing child spacing or limiting the number of children in the context of family planning. They insist rigorously on certain conditions to prevent the misuse of permissive fatwas regarding contraception. 

In the session of the Islamic Fiqh Council held during its fifth conference in Kuwait, 1-6 Jumada al-Akhir 1409 AH/10-15 December 1988 AH, the council determined the following: 

  • Firstly: it is not permissible to promulgate laws restricting the freedom of couples to have children.
  • Secondly: it is prohibited to completely eradicate the ability to have children in the case of either the husband or the wife, which is known as sterilization, so long as there is no necessary reason, according to shariah.
  • Thirdly: Temporary birth control for spacing pregnancies or delaying pregnancy is permissible in Islam if both spouses agree, the method is safe, and it aligns with shariah, without harming any existing pregnancy.

Contraception

The use of contraception is generally considered permissible in Islam, as long as it does not cause harm and is agreed upon by both husband and wife. This is indicated in the following hadith: 

حَدَّثَنَا مُسَدَّدٌ، حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى بْنُ سَعِيدٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ جُرَيْجٍ، عَنْ عَطَاءٍ، عَنْ جَابِرٍ، قَالَ كُنَّا نَعْزِلُ عَلَى عَهْدِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم‏.‏ 

Narrated Jabir: We used to practice coitus interrupt us during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ).

Sahih al-Bukhari 5207
Chapter 97: The coitus interruptus, Book 67: Wedlock, Marriage (Nikaah) 

Fiqh scholars from different Islamic schools of thought also have varying interpretations. Many support the use of contraception, provided it serves a legitimate purpose, such as protecting the health of the mother or spacing pregnancies to ensure better care for the children.

When it comes to contraception, there are many options available to help you plan your family and manage your reproductive health. Each method has its own advantages and potential side-effects, making it essential to choose one that best fits your needs and lifestyle. 

There are several broad categories of contraception: 

  • Barrier methods: These include condoms (male and female) and diaphragms. They work by physically preventing sperm from reaching the egg.
    • Condoms: Male condoms are worn on the penis while female condoms are inserted into the vagina. They also provide protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The key to their effectiveness is proper usage every time.
    • Diaphragms: A diaphragm is a dome-shaped cup inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix, often used with spermicide. It must be inserted before intercourse and left in place for several hours afterward to ensure effectiveness.
  • Hormonal methods: These include birth control pills, patches, injections, and rings, which work by altering the hormonal balance in your body to prevent ovulation.
    • Birth control pills: Taken daily, they are highly effective but can cause side effects such as mood swings, nausea, weight gain, and an increased risk of blood clots.
    • Patches: These are applied to the skin and changed weekly. Similar to pills, they provide a steady release of hormones but can also cause skin irritation at the application site.
    • Injections: Given every three months, this method is convenient for those who may forget daily pills. Possible side effects include weight gain, mood changes, and a delay in returning to fertility after stopping the injections.
    • Rings: Vaginal rings are inserted monthly and work similarly to patches and pills. Users must feel comfortable with the insertion and removal process.
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs): Small devices inserted into the uterus, IUDs prevent sperm from fertilizing the egg and can last several years.
    • Hormonal IUDs: These release small amounts of progestin, which thickens cervical mucus and can reduce menstrual bleeding and cramps.
    • Non-hormonal IUDs: Often made of copper, these create a hostile environment for sperm, making fertilization unlikely. They do not alter hormonal balance but may increase menstrual cramping and bleeding.
  • Natural methods: These involve tracking fertility signals, such as body temperature and cervical mucus, to avoid intercourse during fertile periods.
    • Natural methods require diligent monitoring and a strong understanding of one’s cycle, making them less effective than other methods if not followed precisely. However, they are a good option for those avoiding hormonal or barrier methods due to personal, religious, or health reasons.
    • Another natural method to consider is coitus interruptus, also known as withdrawal. This method involves the husband withdrawing before ejaculation to prevent sperm from entering the vagina. While it requires a high level of self-control and timing, it is a viable option for couples preferring to avoid other forms of contraception.
  •   Permanent methods: These include sterilization procedures like tubal ligation for women and vasectomy for men. Permanent methods such as sterilization are considered irreversible and they are haram (forbidden) unless there is a medically necessary reason. Selecting a contraceptive method that aligns with your health and wellbeing is crucial. If you have concerns or questions, always consult a knowledgeable healthcare provider for personalized advice.