Islamic Beliefs Regarding Pregnancy
Muslims believe that carrying, and then raising, a child is one of the greatest gifts Allah can bestow upon a woman. Mothers are traditionally esteemed by Muslim societies, and the Quran itself reflects that importance: “We have enjoined on man, kindness to his parents. In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth” (Surah Al Ahqaf 46:15). Some Muslims believe a pregnant woman’s nutritional habits, physicality and psychological state can have enormous influences on a child developing in her womb, according to the Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project. Islam also teaches that a pregnant woman’s husband should be deeply involved in her care, ensuring that she receives proper nutrition and providing the medical care and facilities needed for an easy delivery.
1 Pregnancy Outside of Marriage
Islam teaches that sexual intercourse should only take place between a married man and woman. Therefore, most Muslims believe pregnancy should solely occur during marriage. Among traditional Muslims, if a young woman becomes pregnant outside of marriage, both her and the father’s parents would likely encourage a quick marriage between the pair, according to Islam Question and Answer. If marriage is impossible, it is recommended that the woman's parents support and protect her during her pregnancy and subsequent childbirth.
2 Birth Control
Although all Muslims are encouraged to have children, contraception is not expressly forbidden in Islam, according to the Muslim Public Affairs Council. In this context, most contraception methods available today are considered permissible for Muslims to use at their discretion. However, because Islam teaches that sexual relations should only be practiced between a married man and woman, contraception is not encouraged as a means of preventing pregnancy outside of marriage.
Most Muslims do not believe abortion is permissible unless the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or if the life of the mother is in danger, according to the BBC. If a woman’s life is threatened by her pregnancy, Muslims see abortion as a “lesser of two evils” when compared to the mother’s death, since the mother is recognized as the creator of the fetus and already has an established life in the living world. Some Muslims also believe the termination of a pregnancy is legitimate if the fetus has severe health problems that would cause great suffering during his or her life.
4 Birth Rites
Muslim birth rites are tied to traditions recorded in hadiths (the recorded sayings of the Prophet), and not specifically the Quran. The Muslim call to prayer are the first words a newborn Muslim baby should hear; the prayer should be whispered into the baby’s right ear by his or her father. Muslims also believe a baby’s first taste of food should be something sweet, a tradition reportedly dating back to the Prophet Muhammad. On or after a child’s seventh day of life, the baby’s head is shaved to show that he or she is a servant of Allah. Muslim boys are also circumcised on the seventh day. Moreover, the aqeeqah is also traditionally carried out on a child’s seventh day; this is a celebration that involves slaughtering a sheep and then distributing the meat to family members, neighbors and the poor, according to the BBC.
- 1 Muslim Health Network - Pregnancy
- 2 Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project - Pregnancy and Childbirth
- 3 BBC Religion - Islamic Teachings on Abortion
- 4 BBC Religion - Muslim Birth Rites
- 5 Muslim Public Affairs Council - An Islamic Perspective on Sexuality
- 6 Islam Question and Answer: Social Problems