Abortion is a sensitive issue for whoever is going through it. It is a period where you feel overwhelmed, anxious, and often conflicted. The general principle in Islam is the sanctity of life, which is considered a divine gift, and therefore, abortion is viewed as impermissible unless there is a legitimate Shari’i reason. Scholars have categorized the permissibility of abortion into distinct considerations, taking into account the circumstances and the stages of pregnancy. Whether it be for severe fetal anomalies or if the mother’s life is at risk, each situation requires careful ethical and shari’i contemplation. 

Stages of Pregnancy in Islam 

Pregnancy in Islam is generally divided into stages, each with its own set of rules: 

  • Before 40 Days: The initial stage is up to 40 days. Most scholars agree that abortion during this time is generally frowned upon, but it may be permissible for valid reasons, such as severe fetal anomalies or significant hardship.
  • From 40 to 120 Days: The period from 40 to 120 days is more complex. Some scholars permit abortion during this period in circumstances where there are severe fetal anomalies or when the mother’s health is at serious risk.
  • After 120 Days: This stage is marked by the “ensoulment,” that occurs at around 120 days. After this point, abortion is generally impermissible except in highly critical situations, such as when the mother’s life is at direct risk.

The Sanctity of Life in Islam

In Islam, life is regarded as sacred from the moment of conception. The Qur’an emphasizes the sanctity of human life in several verses, such as in Surah Al-Mu’minun (23:12-14), which describes the stages of human creation: ‘We created man from an extract of clay. Then We made him a drop in a place of settlement, firmly fixed. Then We made the drop into an alaqah (leech-like structure), then We made the alaqah into a mudghah (chewed-like substance)…’

وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا ٱلْإِنسَـٰنَ مِن سُلَـٰلَةٍۢ مِّن طِينٍۢ ١٢

And indeed, We created humankind from an extract of clay, (12)

ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَـٰهُ نُطْفَةًۭ فِى قَرَارٍۢ مَّكِينٍۢ ١٣

then placed each ˹human˺ as a sperm-drop in a secure place, (13)

ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا ٱلنُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةًۭ فَخَلَقْنَا ٱلْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةًۭ فَخَلَقْنَا ٱلْمُضْغَةَ عِظَـٰمًۭا فَكَسَوْنَا ٱلْعِظَـٰمَ لَحْمًۭا ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَـٰهُ خَلْقًا ءَاخَرَ ۚ فَتَبَارَكَ ٱللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ ٱلْخَـٰلِقِينَ ١٤

then We developed the drop into a clinging clot, then developed the clot into a lump ˹of flesh˺, then developed the lump into bones, then clothed the bones with flesh, then We brought it into being as a new creation. So Blessed is Allah, the Best of Creators. (14)

Al-Mu’minun (23:12-14)

These verses highlights the divine process of human creation, underscoring the sacredness of life from its earliest stages.

Conditions for Permissibility 

While permissibility can vary, most scholars agree on the following conditions: 

  • Severe Fetal Anomalies: If the fetus is diagnosed with conditions that are incompatible with life outside the womb, many scholars permit abortion, particularly before the stage of ensoulment (120 days).
  • Risk to Mother’s Life: If the pregnancy poses a real and significant threat to the mother’s life or long-term health, abortion can be considered permissible.
  • Counsel from Religious Authorities: Decisions related to abortion should ideally be discussed with knowledgeable Islamic scholars or an Imam to ensure that any permissible actions are in line with Islamic teachings.

Emotional and Spiritual Guidance 

For anyone facing these difficult decisions, seeking emotional and spiritual guidance is crucial. Consulting religious authorities can provide the needed clarity and support. 

It’s important to remember that Allah is Most Merciful and Forgiving. Difficult choices like these should always be approached with sincere prayer and reflection. In the words of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ): 

حَدَّثَنَا يَزِيدُ، أَنْبَأَنَا يَحْيَى بْنُ سَعِيدٍ، أَنَّ مُحَمَّدَ بْنَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ، أَخْبَرَهُ أَنَّهُ، سَمِعَ عَلْقَمَةَ بْنَ وَقَّاصٍ اللَّيْثِيَّ، يَقُولُ إِنَّهُ سَمِعَ عُمَرَ بْنَ الْخَطَّابِ، رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ وَهُوَ يَخْطُبُ النَّاسَ وَهُوَ يَقُولُ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ إِنَّمَا الْعَمَلُ بِالنِّيَّةِ وَإِنَّمَا لِامْرِئٍ مَا نَوَى فَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَإِلَى رَسُولِهِ فَهِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَإِلَى رَسُولِهِ وَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ لِدُنْيَا يُصِيبُهَا أَوْ امْرَأَةٍ يَتَزَوَّجُهَا فَهِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى مَا هَاجَرَ إِلَيْهِ‏.‏

Alqamah bin Waqqas al Laithi said that he heard Umar bin al-Khattab addressing the people, and he said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: “Action is but by intention and each person will have but that which he intended. So whoever migrated for the sake of Allah and His Messenger, then his migration was for the sake of Allah and His Messenger, whoever migrated for some worldly purpose or for the sake of a woman whom he could marry, his migration was for the purpose for which he migrated.”

Musnad Ahmad 300

This Hadith underscores the importance of your intentions and faith when making such decisions. 

Support Networks and Resources 

Dealing with the complexities surrounding abortion requires not just spiritual but also emotional support. Here are some helpful steps: 

  • Speak to an Imam: Engage in discussions with religious leaders in your community to understand the Islamic rulings better.
  • Join a Support Group: Connecting with other Muslim women facing similar issues can offer emotional comfort and practical advice.
  • Consult Medical Experts: Always ensure that medical advice is sought for comprehensive understanding of the risk and benefits involved.

Remember, each journey is unique, and seeking knowledge is the first step in making informed and faithful decisions.