Family Planning in Islam and the Muslim World

Ayad A1-Qazzaz
California State University, Sacramento

April 25, 1998

I. Introduction:

A. Religion is an overrated variable
B. We need to make a distinction between the teaching of Islam and the Muslim people.
C. The size of the Muslim community is around one billion people.
D. Islam has a history of 15 centuries.
E. Family Planning as method to control and limit population growth is a new concept.
F. The quality of life in most Muslim countries in the near future will depend on the effectiveness of the practice of family planning.

II. The View of Islam on Family Planning.

A. Sources of Islamic law. Primary sources: The Quran and the sunnah.
Secondary sources: Qiyas or analogous reasoning and consensus of the theologians.

B. Azl, coitus interruptus:

1. No text (nuss) in the Quran against family planning
2. The Sunnah according to most jurists approve azl, as form of fanuly planning.
3. Azl must be practiced with consent of the wife.
4. Azl may be practiced for various reasons: health of the mother, feeding an infant, or the welfare of the family
5 . Contemporary Muslim Jurists extend the azi by useing the Qiyas method to include the pill, IUD and the condom.

C. Abortion
1. As general rule of thumb, abortion is not condoned by Muslim jurists as alternative to contraception.
2. Most Jurists don't approve abortion alter 120 days, except for the health of the mother.
3. Muslim Jurists disagree among theniselves as for abortion before 120 days. Some permitted under certain condition, some not.

D. Sterilization.
1. No text in the Quran or the sunnah prohibits sterilization.
2. Sterilization as used today was not known to the early Muslims jurists.
3. Most Muslims jurists today oppose permanent sterilization, except for serious reasons such as hereditary or transmissible diseases.
4. Many Muslim jurists permit under certain conditions temporary sterilization.
5. Sterilization is voluntary with no imposition from anyone.

III. Muslim Practices.

A. New concept, still evolving. Many views and practices.

B. Three factors seem to influence the behavior of given Muslim country:
1. The size of the country. Bigger country are for family planning. Small country are against family planning.
2. The geography and the historical development of the country.
3. Most Muslim countries lack resource to make family planning available every where in the country

C. Most family planning programs are very moderate ( not as aggressive as the Chinese) intended to reduce the number of children from five to three.

IV. Evaluation and Conclusion.

A. Family Planning is a new concept.

B. Family planning is taking root in many Muslim countries.

C. The impact of family planning is very slow for several reasons.
1. Just started in the last decade or so
2. The population of many Muslin countries has large pyramid base.
3. Almost every body gets married
4. The family planning program is not an aggressive program like the Chinese.
5. Lack of resource to implement a large scale programs.

D. Conclussion. I am pessimist because family planning is very slow. On the other hand I am optimistic because family planning is started and taking root practically in all Muslim countries and there is no retreat from this policy

Comparative Population Pyramids

These bar charts show how unevenly the population is distributed in Muslim countries, such as Bangladesh, Turkey, and Egypt, where a large number of the population has yet to enter or is just entering the child-bearing years. Note the 'baby boom' of the USA.

Notes from Professor AlQazzaz's lecture:

There are 1 billion Muslim people, most are either a majority or a sizeable minority in 70 countries throughout the world. Religion is an overrated variable: Muslims have varying cultures. Family planning has only been a concept for 3 or 4 decades.

A distinction must be made between Islam and the Muslim people. Practice and principle are not always the same. There are millions of documents associated to Islam.

The quality of life will depend on the effectiveness of family planning. Population is expected to double to 2 billion in 30 years.

Under Islamic law, "Axl", or coitus interruptus is "prophet approved" to space children or to have the number of children appropriate with the wealth of the family, or for various other reasons. The wife must agree with it. She is entitled to full sexual fulfillment. Today "axl" has been extended to modern contraceptives. Abortion has no such approval. After 120 days, the fetus is 'en-souled'. However, the mother's life is more important than the fetus'.

Bigger countries, such as Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, and Bangladesh, are more interested in family planning. Smaller countries are interested in more children. In Pakistan, family planning is like a yo-yo. They may need more people as a defense against India. In Iran, which neighbors Iran and Turkey, 'each time a women gives birth, it is a bullet against the enemy'.

Factors in family planning:
1. Encouraged to reduce family size from 5 or 6 to three.
2. Almost everyone gets married
3. Countries are not agressive to reduce number
4. Lack of resources to promote family planning
5. 50% of the population is illiterate

In Iran: The Khomeni was very much against family planning, but the country has now switched 180 degrees. If there are more than 3 children, free education and housing subsidies are withheld.

Women's status varies. In Turkey, it is almost like European law. But for the most part, 40% of women finish secondary school, 32% go to college. In Egypt, 25% of the work force is women.

According to Muhammed: If you educate a man, you educate an individual. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation.