Islamic Perspective on Contraception

The great majority of old contemporary jurists therefore had liberal views on contraception, as long as it does not totaly diminish the procreative function of marriage. The evidence of contraception is not religiously prohibited derives from various reports since time of Prophet (peace be upon him).

In the esteemed compendia of Al-Bukhari and of Muslim, both very reliable sources on the Prophet’s traditions, a companion of the Prophet with the name of Jabir reports:

“We practiced contraception by withdrawal (coitus interruptus) at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), at the time of Quran kept being revealed to him and when he knew he did not forbid us”.

Responding to a question from a man whether it was alright to practice coitus interruptus with a woman he owned (his wife), the Prophet said:

“If you so wish you may. And if God willed for her something (pregnancy), she will have it”.

This reference to the possibility of failure of the contraceptive method that was known at that time, became relevant as the man later went to the Prophet to tell him that the woman had become pregnant, to which the Prophet remarked:

“I have already said it to you. Whatever is willed for her will come to her”.

The practice is also sanctioned with one’s wife, except that it must be bu mutual consent, as decreed by the Prophet:

“A man must not practice withdrawal with his wife unless she freely consents”.

Nowadays, the aims of contraception have been many and varied. At the beginning, contraception was a prescription for the married woman. But this times changed and with them the accepted social norms, and contraception is now universally available for married and unmarried!

There is some women’s liberation movement which funded the research on acceptable contraception. They believe that as man can enjoy sexual liberty without the threat of bearing an undesired pregnancy, then woman should be freed from that fear and enabled to enjoy sex without such anxiety.

On the medical aspect, the hazard of high frequency of pregnancy in a female has been identified and the terms ‘grand multiparity‘ and ‘the dangerous multipara‘ were coined, and contraception was promoted by doctors to prevent these hazards. There are cases of gestational diabetes mellitus, pre-eclampsia, hemorrhages, worsening of medical diseases, age-related maternal illness and fetal anomaly.

The most probable single motivating factor for contraception is the socio-economic factor at the level of the individual family. The emphasis is mainly on the quality of life the parents want for their children. In addition to that, the required standards of raising up the children and catering for the whole family might be incompatible with a large number of children.

Contraception Methods

a) The reversible methods:

~ Physical (eg: Coitus Interuptus & Rhythm Method).
~ Mechanical (eg: Intra-Uterine Devices – IUD).
~ Chemical (Oral Contraceptive Pill, Locally Acting Spermicide Jellies).

b) The irreversible methods (sterilization).

~ Vasectomy in man.
~ Tubal ligation in woman.


As far as the reversible method is concerned, Islam allows the physical methods such as coitus interruptus and the rhythm method. The husband must however, seek the consent of his wife when practicing coitus interruptus. During the period in which Quran was revealed, azal (coitus interruptus) was practiced by the Arabs, but it was not prohibited by any verse.

The mechanical and chemical methods are permissible only under certain circumstances, provided they do not transgress any fundamental Islamic laws. For example, they should not be harmful to users. Therefore, the use of condoms and spermicide jellies is permissible. As far as the IUD and OCP are concerned, the physician must ensure that there is proper indication for their use and they would be safe for the user. Only then would their use be permissible.

Vasectomy in man is totally prohibited in Islam.
It cannot be sanctioned by the Shariah under any circumstances. Islamic law also prohibits castration. A common factor between vasectomy and castration is that both destroy the power of reproduction in man, although the ability to cohabit is still present. It is the cause of murder of future generation.

Tubal ligation in woman cannot be declared permissible as a general rule, because it renders a woman incapable of conceiving. There is a possibility that the factor on account of which she is being counseled for, tubal ligation might change thereafter. However, there would then be little hope on her becoming pregnant again. However, if honest and experienced doctor fears that the life of permanent health of a woman would be seriously affected by a pregnancy and there is no other cure for her sickness, in such case only would tubal ligation be permissible.


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