I have always been uneasy about the area of abortion; it is not an easy ‘black or white’ issue, but I have always sided on “pro life” rather than the taking of life, euphemistically called “pro choice”. The latter results in a destructive process which goes against my very essence. “Elective” abortions, abortions through necessity as a result of harm to mother or baby, are all issues that have been racing backwards and forwards across the neurones of my restless mind. The Quran is silent, but does it make it right to perform abortions just because there is no specific Quranic verse stopping it? There are many things that are left open for mankind to discuss, to debate and consult about but we must always bear in mind the overall principles of the Quran and the sanctity of all life. Pro choice for the mother, but what about choice for the life within?
WHEN DOES HUMAN LIFE BEGIN?
The Roman Catholics say at the time of conception and the pro choice lobby says at the time of birth. What about one minute before birth? When medical techniques are advancing so that premature babies can survive at earlier and earlier times, who then defines what human life is and what is worth saving? One mother says terminate, another who miscarriages asks why through watery eyes. The matter becomes more complex the more a foetus looks like a human, with a defined head, arms eyes etc. A mass of undifferentiated cells may well not be called a human being but when the human figure begins to emerge, who has the right to shear off its head and wrench it out of the womb that was nourishing it?
Allah is the “Rahman and Raheem”, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, and definitions of these attributes talk about the womb and its nourishing capabilities. Are we not to learn from this or is it enough to speak the words without imparting them in our hearts as well? “Talk the talk” but “walk the walk” as well!
There are some verses of the Quran we need to refer to in order to keep ourselves on the straight path, which has been described as “a narrow tightrope over the fires of hell”:-
5:32 On that account, We decreed to the Children of Israel (the Eternal Moral Ordinance for all humanity 2:178) that whoever kills a human being, unless it be for murder or bloody crimes on the earth, it would be as if he killed all mankind. And whoever saves the life of one human being it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind. Our Messengers came to them with evident truth, yet, even after this, many of them continue to commit excesses in the land. [Only a court of law will make decisions. No one would take the law in own hand].
This says “person” but where does “humanity” start? Does a person born into the world have no rights prior to their arrival in it? The Chinese are doing abortions at eight months of pregnancy when the baby is quite able to live outside the womb with minimal assistance, if any! Their definition of life is different to some in the “West” who do not perform abortions after 26 weeks or so of pregnancy. We humans are making the rules so they are not accepted as universally binding. Moral behaviour in one society is classed as immoral in another!
Some may say human life begins at the time the “nufs” is ‘breathed’ into the clinging mass:-
32:7 Who created everything in perfect balance. Thus He initiated the creation of the humans from hydrated inorganic matter.
32:8 Then He made him to be reproduced out of the essence of a mere fluid. [The inorganic matter was hydrated and life was initiated from its extract. Eventually, the evolution reached a point when procreation with male and female gametes was established. 37:11]
32:9 (Then emergent evolution took place that distinguished humans from the animal kingdom.) He shapes him in accordance with what he is meant to be, and breathes into him of His Energy. And thus (O Mankind) He gives you the faculties of hearing, sight, reasoning and feelings. Yet, how seldom are you grateful by making the best use of your perceptual and conceptual faculties! [Af’idah = Minds = Intellect = Faculty of reasoning including feelings. 17:36, 45:23, 46:26]
When does this happen and what does “nufs” mean? Soul, consciousness, “humanity”, free will, the choices are there for us to ponder over. If the brain is sufficiently developed to receive this gift then does this mean it is human from this time onward? Suppose we know it is at three months, can we terminate the life before this date? If foetuses develop at different rates we may well be killing it after this “nufs” has been breathed in. Then let’s be on the safe side, one week before, or better still, one month. Who wants to make the rules?
There is a case for terminating life if there is a life-threatening condition in the mother. Severe cardiac problems and eclampsia are two examples where the mother may die unless the baby is removed. This is based on the principle that a greater good outweighs a lesser evil.
Down’s syndrome is a condition that brings enormous pressures for parents and some elect to abort foetus’ with this. However, such children, when born, can lead full and satisfying lives so who has the right to decide what makes one human enough to live and not another? If a baby with Downs can be killed in the womb, what about after it is born? Does it have less rights than “healthy” humans so can we kill ‘it’ then? Does it become “sub human” if it is not a perfect physical specimen? What about deaf people? Kill them as well, or the blind or any other ‘disabled’ person? Blue eyes, blonde hair, where do we stop at what kind of child we want? Eugenics!!!!!!
AIDS and incurable neurological disorders diagnosed in the unborn are another set of ethical problems that we unfortunately come across. Should we subject babies to a few months or years of medical treatment in an effort to keep them alive, with all the side effects etc that goes with this?
NO ELECTIVE ABORTIONS
6:149 Say, "The most powerful reasoning, the final evidence, is with God. If He willed, He could have made all of you innately guided” (like rest of the creation that spontaneously follows Divine laws). [16:49, 41:11]
6:150 Say, “Come, bring forward your witnesses who can bear witness that God forbade all this. And if they bear witness falsely, do not bear witness with them. You shall not follow the opinions of those who deny Our revelations, nor of those who do not believe in the life to come, and consider others equal with their Lord.
[Nine commandments … Graven images of the Bible not mentioned]
6:151 Say, "Come, let me convey to you what your Sustainer has enjoined upon you as a sacred duty: i. Associate none with Him. ii. Honor your parents, treat them kindly and fulfill their needs. iii. Neither kill your children for fear of poverty nor deprive them of proper training and education. We provide for you and for them. (The Divine System will
take care of your needs and their needs.) iv. Do not come near immodesty or indecent deeds, whether openly or secretly. v. Do not slay a life - life that God has made sacred - except in the course of justice. This He has commanded you so that you may use your intelligence.”
The Quran no-where prohibits the killing of the unborn, but says do not kill children, but who makes the words: child, baby, foetus, or a clinging mass? Verse 149 says He could have made us all automatons instead of us having free wills, but “with great power comes great responsibility”, which we have to exercise most judiciously. “Neither kill your children” and “Do not slay a life - life that God has made sacred” are two phrases that should mean something for the unborn life as well. This certainly rules out ELECTIVE abortions, i.e. abortions on demand for no good reason.
Considering the profound emotional trauma, can a pregnancy through rape qualify for abortion? Do two wrongs make a right?
5:45 For them (Jews), We had decreed in the Torah: Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and equal injury for injury (Exodus 21:23). But If one shall forgo retaliation by way of charity, it shall absolve his or her imperfections. Whoever does not judge or rule according to what God has Revealed, such are the wrongdoers.”
May Allah never allow a woman to be violated by a man and I cannot imagine the trauma that she goes through but do the unborn not need forgiveness rather than a death sentence? The ‘morning after pill’ and the ‘coil’ is now available and should be readily available for any rape case; leaving it until a long way into pregnancy to terminate the life of the unborn should not occur. More so when we are ordained not to do anything with hatred:-
5:8 O You who have chosen to be graced with belief! Be upholders of justice for the sake of God as witnesses to the truth. Let not the hatred of any people move you away from justice. Deal justly. That is closer to being upright. Be mindful of your duty to God. God is fully Aware of what you do.
5:9 God promises the protection of forgiveness and a great reward to those who attain belief and do works that fulfil the needs of people and increase the well being of society.
5:10 Yet, there are those who oppose Our revelations openly, or deny them in practice. They are the companions of the Insurmountable Barrier. [‘Selves’ that fail to develop, are unfit to move up to the higher levels of existence, so they merely survive instead of achieving true
Contraception that prevents fertilisation or implantation is much easier to answer since it stops something from happening before we get into the human/sub-human question. Women naturally lose eggs every month and men millions of sperm daily, so whether they are fertilised or not, they are still ‘cells’ at this stage.
But with contraception comes immorality. Men and women play games they should not and when this results in unwanted pregnancy, abortions result; millions worldwide! The whole world needs re-educating to the highest moral values of the Quran and we cannot dilute these by accepting secular ideas of what constitutes life and who has control over who dies. If a pregnancy occurs from an immoral act, then the sins of the father are not passed down upon the children so shameful acts are not followed by “brimstone and treacle” for any conceived child!
Allah provides sustenance for “children” so why not for the unborn as well? Child, foetus, I know what you have said but ask a mother if she is carrying a foetus or baby in her womb and you will see the differences merging.
6:151 Say, "Come, let me convey to you what your Sustainer has enjoined upon you as a sacred duty: i. Associate none with Him. ii. Honour your parents, treat them kindly and fulfil their needs. iii. Neither kill your children for fear of poverty nor deprive them of proper training and education. WE PROVIDE FOR YOU AND FOR THEM.
It does not say ALAQA’ (Embryo) or MUDHGHAH (Foetus) but are we “playing god” by saying that you know what Allah meant so are happy to do Qurbani on the unborn? Do we not say Bismillah before slaughtering animals to show that it is only by Allah’s will that we are taking an animals life and not us; Allah has control over life and death. Is the unborn child living or not?
If Allah has ‘created’ us in the wombs then do we have a right to terminate this life? He states he provides sustenance so who are we to define what is worth saving or not?
23:14 Then We fashioned the gametes into a zygote, then a leech-like mass of flesh, then the hanging little lump, the embryo (the developing baby). Then We created bones within the embryonic lump (the unborn baby), and then clothed the bones with flesh (now a human shape), designing it into the foetus. And then We made it a new creation (the human infant). So Blessed is God, the Best of creators.
It is more emotionally charged than scientific terms that can be extricated from a womb with a surgeon’s scalpel. Can we kill girls before they are born like the Hindus do and is this not the same as burying newborn baby girls in the sands of Arabia? Are we still in the age of ignorance that the Quran came to eliminate?
We might look at the prayer taught to us for a healthy baby:-
7:189 —. As she grows heavy with the child, they both (husband and wife) implore God, their Lord, “If you grant us a healthy baby, we shall certainly be among the grateful.”
The Quran shows us even prophets praying for a healthy child.”
But it does not say to slaughter the unhealthy or unwanted children. The Jews would not let anyone with any kind of physical or mental infirmity enter the Temple of Jerusalem (skin rashes, blindness, etc) which was condemned by Jesus (he “cured” them of their afflictions by saying it does not matter what diseases you have, it is the character of the person that is important and not the quality of the physical body). As mentioned earlier, by saying Downs babies are not worth saving, we are denying them life which is much worse than denying them access to a temple. Yes, we all want healthy children but an unhealthy child a test of our humanity.
Before we pass judgement over something then we must “think before we leap”. I may be wrong on some points above but my intention is not to offend but to allow us to think about the other side of the “three veils of darkness”. We are blinding ourselves when life before birth has no value.