Is abortion permitted in Islam? What is the ruling?


ⓘ Supported by Al Medina 313.

Quran

Hadith

Islamic Text

Abortion is permitted according to the Hanafi Madhab. However, there is a difference of opinion as to whether it is always permitted before 120 days, or a validating reason is required to justify permissibility.

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللهِ، قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَهُوَ الصَّادِقُ الْمَصْدُوقُ ” إِنَّ أَحَدَكُمْ يُجْمَعُ خَلْقُهُ فِي بَطْنِ أُمِّهِ أَرْبَعِينَ يَوْمًا، ثُمَّ يَكُونُ فِي ذَلِكَ عَلَقَةً مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ، ثُمَّ يَكُونُ فِي ذَلِكَ مُضْغَةً مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ، ثُمَّ يُرْسَلُ الْمَلَكُ فَيَنْفُخُ فِيهِ الرُّوحَ

(Sayidina) Abdullah ibn Masood (May Allah Most High be pleased with him) said the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, who spoke the truth and whose truthfulness was confirmed, said, ‘Indeed the creation of each one of you is brought together in his mother’s womb for forty days. Then he becomes an Alaqah for a like period. Then a Mudghah for a like period. Then the angel is sent and the soul is cast into him.’ (Sahih Muslim, 2643 – 1).

Many scholars referred to this Mubarak Hadith when discussing the ruling of abortion in Islam. Some said that since the soul does not enter until 120 days, it is permitted to carryout an abortion prior to that period.

وَهَلْ يُبَاحُ الْإِسْقَاطُ بَعْدَ الْحَبَلِ؟ يُبَاحُ مَا لَمْ يَتَخَلَّقْ شَيْءٌ مِنْهُ ثُمَّ فِي غَيْرِ مَوْضِعٍ، قَالُوا: وَلَا يَكُونُ ذَلِكَ إلَّا بَعْدَ مِائَةٍ وَعِشْرِينَ يَوْمًا، وَهَذَا يَقْتَضِي أَنَّهُمْ أَرَادُوا بِالتَّخْلِيقِ نَفْخَ الرُّوحِ وَإِلَّا فَهُوَ غَلَطٌ لِأَنَّ التَّخْلِيقَ يَتَحَقَّقُ بِالْمُشَاهَدَةِ قَبْلَ هَذِهِ الْمُدَّةِ. (فتح القدير)

Is abortion after pregnancy permitted? It is permitted as long as nothing of it (the embryo) has developed. In another place they said, that does not take place until after 120 days. This dictates that they intended the casting of the soul by mentioning development. Otherwise it is an error. Since development takes place prior to this time period, as is established through observation. (Imam Ibn al-Humaam, Fath al-Qadeer).

إِسْقَاط الْجَنِين وَيُبَاح للْمَرْأَة إِسْقَاط الْوَلَد مَا لم يستبن شَيْء من خلقه. (تحفة الملوك)

Abortion: It is permitted for a woman to abort a child as long as it has not clearly developed. (Imam Zayn al-Deen al-Razi, Tuhfatu al-Mulook).

In the commentary Imam al-Ayni clarified:

لأنه ليس بآدمي ما لم يستبن خلقه، ذكره في المحيط. (منحة السلوك في شرح تحفة الملوك)

This is due to the fact that it is not a person until it has clearly developed. As mentioned in al-Muheet. (Imam Badr al-Deen al-Ayni, Minhatu al-Sulook).

These great Imams of the Hanafi Madhab clearly stated that abortion is permissible before 120 days. Imam al-Ayni explained that the embryo is not considered to be a person until the soul is cast. Others disagreed, saying that abortion is only permitted if there is an Udhr (valid reason). Imam Ibn Abideen, quotes both opinions in the Haashiyah:

مَطْلَبٌ فِي حُكْمِ إسْقَاطِ الْحَمْلِ
قَالَ فِي النَّهْرِ: بَقِيَ هَلْ يُبَاحُ الْإِسْقَاطُ بَعْدَ الْحَمْلِ؟ نَعَمْ يُبَاحُ مَا لَمْ يَتَخَلَّقْ مِنْهُ شَيْءٌ وَلَنْ يَكُونَ ذَلِكَ إلَّا بَعْدَ مِائَةٍ وَعِشْرِينَ يَوْمًا، وَهَذَا يَقْتَضِي أَنَّهُمْ أَرَادُوا بِالتَّخْلِيقِ نَفْخَ الرُّوحِ وَإِلَّا فَهُوَ غَلَطٌ لِأَنَّ التَّخْلِيقَ يَتَحَقَّقُ بِالْمُشَاهَدَةِ قَبْلَ هَذِهِ الْمُدَّةِ كَذَا فِي الْفَتْحِ، وَإِطْلَاقُهُمْ يُفِيدُ عَدَمَ تَوَقُّفِ جَوَازِ إسْقَاطِهَا قَبْلَ الْمُدَّةِ الْمَذْكُورَةِ عَلَى إذْنِ الزَّوْجِ
وَفِي كَرَاهَةِ الْخَانِيَّةِ: وَلَا أَقُولُ بِالْحِلِّ إذْ الْمُحْرِمُ لَوْ كَسَرَ بَيْضَ الصَّيْدِ ضَمِنَهُ لِأَنَّهُ أَصْلُ الصَّيْدِ فَلَمَّا كَانَ يُؤَاخَذُ بِالْجَزَاءِ فَلَا أَقَلَّ مِنْ أَنْ يَلْحَقَهَا إثْمٌ هُنَا إذَا سَقَطَ بِغَيْرِ عُذْرِهَا اهـ
قَالَ ابْنُ وَهْبَانَ: وَمِنْ الْأَعْذَارِ أَنْ يَنْقَطِعَ لَبَنُهَا بَعْدَ ظُهُورِ الْحَمْلِ وَلَيْسَ لِأَبِي الصَّبِيِّ مَا يَسْتَأْجِرُ بِهِ الظِّئْرَ وَيَخَافُ هَلَاكَهُ. وَنقل عَنْ الذَّخِيرَةِ لَوْ أَرَادَتْ الْإِلْقَاءَ قَبْلَ مُضِيِّ زَمَنٍ يُنْفَخُ فِيهِ الرُّوحُ هَلْ يُبَاحُ لَهَا ذَلِكَ أَمْ لَا؟ اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ، وَكَانَ الْفَقِيهُ عَلِيُّ بْنُ مُوسَى يَقُولُ: إنَّهُ يُكْرَهُ، فَإِنَّ الْمَاءَ بَعْدَمَا وَقَعَ فِي الرَّحِمِ مَآلُهُ الْحَيَاةُ فَيَكُونُ لَهُ حُكْمُ الْحَيَاةِ كَمَا فِي بَيْضَةِ صَيْدِ الْحَرَمِ، وَنَحْوُهُ فِي الظَّهِيرِيَّةِ قَالَ ابْنُ وَهْبَانَ: فَإِبَاحَةُ الْإِسْقَاطِ مَحْمُولَةٌ عَلَى حَالَةِ الْعُذْرِ، أَوْ أَنَّهَا لَا تَأْثَمُ إثْمَ الْقَتْلِ اهـ
وَبِمَا فِي الذَّخِيرَةِ تَبَيَّنَ أَنَّهُمْ مَا أَرَادُوا بِالتَّخْلِيقِ إلَّا نَفْخُ الرُّوحِ، وَأَنَّ قَاضِيَ خَانْ مَسْبُوقٌ بِمَا مَرَّ مِنْ التَّفَقُّهِ، وَاَللَّهُ تَعَالَى الْمُوَفِّقُ اهـ كَلَامُ النَّهْرِ ح. (رد المحتار على الدر المختار)

Section: The ruling on abortion

He said in al-Nahr: It remains (to be addressed), is abortion after pregnancy permitted? It is permitted as long as nothing of it (the embryo) has developed. That does not take place until after 120 days. This dictates that they intended the casting of the soul by mentioning development. Otherwise it is an error. Since development takes place prior to this period, as is established through observation. This is mentioned in al-Fath. Them mentioning this in an unrestricted manner dictates that the permissibility of abortion, prior to the period mentioned, is not contingent upon the permission of the husband.

In the section of disliked matters in al-Khaniyah (he said): I do not say it is permitted. Since a person in Ihram (pilgrimage sanctity) who breaks the egg of prey is required to pay a penalty, due to it being the origin of prey. So if he is required to pay a penalty (for that) then at the very least she is sinful if she aborts without a valid reason.

Ibn Wahbaan said: From the valid reasons is the discontinuation of her milk after pregnancy, whilst the father does not have the ability to hire a wet nurse. Therefore, there is a fear that he (the suckling child) may die.
He narrated from al-Dhakheerah: If she wanted to abort prior to the time at which the soul is cast, is it permitted or not? They (the scholars) differed over it. The jurist Ali bin Musa used to say, it is Makruh. For when the water reaches the womb, it will lead to life. Therefore it has the ruling of life. Like the egg of prey for the person in Ihram.
Ibn Wahbaan said therefore the permissibility of abortion is understood to relate to a situation of a valid reason, or (it could be said that) she does not have the sin of murder (but she is still sinful).

Due to what is in al-Dhakheerah, it could be said that they did not intend anything other than the casting of the soul when they mentioned development. Also Qadi Khan has been preceded (in his view) due to what has been mentioned of juristic understanding. And Allah Most High is the facilitator. This is the end of the statement from al-Nahr. (Imam Ibn Abideen, Radd al-Muhtar).

Many scholars mentioned both opinions without clearly preferring one of them. However, Imam Ibn Nujaym gave preference to the opinion of Khaniyah. Namely, a valid reason is required for abortion to be permitted. In al-Bahr he quoted from Fath al-Qadeer and then from Khaniyah, then he said:

وَيَنْبَغِي الِاعْتِمَادُ عَلَيْهِ لِأَنَّهُ لَهُ أَصْلًا صَحِيحًا يُقَاسُ عَلَيْهِ وَلِظَاهِرِ أَنَّ هَذِهِ الْمَسْأَلَةَ لَمْ تُنْقَلْ عَنْ أَبِي حَنِيفَةَ صَرِيحًا وَلِذَا يُعَبِّرُونَ عَنْهَا بِصِيغَةِ قَالُوا. (البحر الرائق شرح كنز الدقائق)

This should be the relied upon opinion because it is based upon a sound principle, from which legal analogy is made. It is also evident that this ruling has not been narrated from (Imam) Abu Hanifah explicitly. Which is why they mentioned it by saying, they said. (Imam Ibn Nujaym, al-Bahr al-Raiq).

وَيُكْرَهُ أَنْ تُسْقَى لِإِسْقَاطِ حَمْلِهَا … وَجَازَ لِعُذْرٍ حَيْثُ لَا يُتَصَوَّرُ
(قَوْلُهُ وَيُكْرَهُ إلَخْ) أَيْ مُطْلَقًا قَبْلَ التَّصَوُّرِ وَبَعْدَهُ عَلَى مَا اخْتَارَهُ فِي الْخَانِيَّةِ كَمَا قَدَّمْنَاهُ قُبَيْلَ الِاسْتِبْرَاءِ وَقَالَ إلَّا أَنَّهَا لَا تَأْثَمُ إثْمَ الْقَتْلِ (قَوْلُهُ وَجَازَ لِعُذْرٍ) كَالْمُرْضِعَةِ إذَا ظَهَرَ بِهَا الْحَبَلُ وَانْقَطَعَ لَبَنُهَا وَلَيْسَ لِأَبِي الصَّبِيِّ مَا يَسْتَأْجِرُ بِهِ الظِّئْرَ وَيَخَافُ هَلَاكَ الْوَلَدِ قَالُوا يُبَاحُ لَهَا أَنْ تُعَالِجَ فِي اسْتِنْزَالِ الدَّمِ مَا دَامَ الْحَمْلُ مُضْغَةً أَوْ عَلَقَةً وَلَمْ يُخْلَقْ لَهُ عُضْوٌ وَقَدَّرُوا تِلْكَ الْمُدَّةَ بِمِائَةٍ وَعِشْرِينَ يَوْمًا، وَجَازَ لِأَنَّهُ لَيْسَ بِآدَمِيٍّ وَفِيهِ صِيَانَةُ الْآدَمِيِّ خَانِيَّةٌ (قَوْلُهُ حَيْثُ لَا يُتَصَوَّرُ). (رد المحتار على الدر المختار)

It is Makruh to receive medication to abort a pregnancy. It is permitted if there is a validating reason prior to formation.

His saying, it is Makruh, means unrestrictedly. Prior to formation and after it, based upon what he selected in Khaniyah, as has been mentioned just before the rulings of Istibraa. He said, except that she does not incur the sin of murder.

His saying, it is permitted if there is a validating reason. For example, a woman breastfeeds, and pregnancy causes the milk to discontinue, whilst the father does not have the ability to hire a wet nurse. Therefore, there is a fear that he (the suckling child) may die. They said it is permitted for her to seek treatment to cause blood to flow as long as the pregnancy has not reached the stage of Mudghah or Alaqah. Nor has a limb formed. They estimated this period to be 120 days. It is permitted due to the fact that it is not a person. Therefore, does not have the protection of a person, Khaniyah. (Imam Ibn Abideen, Radd al-Muhtar).

As seen from the Nusoos above both opinions clearly have Tasheeh (validation). Even those who disagree with the opinion of abortion being permitted prior to 120 days without a specific reason, do not treat it as an unacceptable or rejected opinion. Rather they make it clear that their preference lies elsewhere.

Even if one argues that the stronger opinion is that abortion is only permitted if a validating reason exists. He or she must accept that the other opinion is also strong and therefore followable.

Since abortion is an incredibly significant decision for couples, and people often regret it afterwards. It is important to take one’s time and not rush into anything. It is also a good idea to consult a credible scholar to thoroughly understand the legal rulings, and the difference of opinion amongst the scholars on this issue.

And Allah Most High Knows Best.

-Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (16.06.2022)

See also:
Respecting difference of opinion.

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