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How Muslim Countries View Abortion
Most individuals perceive the debate on abortion from a Christian perspective . However, it is also important to approach the topic from different religious views. This will allow individuals to better understand abortion and be aware of how certain groups may perceive the procedure. One particular perspective to explore is the Islamic faith. It is one of the major religions and has a large population, making them statistically significant. Additionally, the different Islamic systems can expose the public to new ideas. Islam allows individual Muslims to establish their own perspective on abortion as long as it aligns with their interpretation of God’s compassion.
General Approach of Islam to Abortion
The Islamic religion does not have a “Papal System” similar to the Christian faith. Instead, Muslims follow different schools of thought that may have contradicting opinions about a topic like abortion. This means that Islam has no unified answer to the question of religion. The backgrounds of Muslims play a more important role in their approach to the topic than the teachings of religious leaders (Ayubi, 2022). Islam allows individuals to think for themselves and not rely on the directives of authority figures. This extends to the topic of abortion, leading Muslims to have varying answers to the question.
Muslims approach the topic of abortion based on their interpretation of the Quran and of the nature of their god. According to Ayubi (2022), Muslims base their opinions on abortion on their understanding of god’s compassion instead of looking for answers from religious authorities. Since the concept of “god’s compassion” is abstract, it can be difficult to define the parameters that make abortion morally permissible under this circumstance. However, Muslims also rely on Islamic bioethics to address the issues of abortion. Through Islamic bioethics, Muslims can define ethical decisions and rationalize how such decisions align with god’s compassion.
Islamic bioethics involves deliberation on ethical topics through the review of religious texts and other sources. This system allows Muslims to approach new ethical issues while still taking into account their religious beliefs (Ekmekci, 2017). This is an important part of how Muslims approach abortion as they are less likely to rely on outdated texts. They can interpret Islamic texts through the eyes of a modern individual and apply common sense and reasoning to assess whether a decision is ethical or not. In the case of abortion, Islam can take into account the advances in medicine and ethics to assess whether abortion is part of god’s compassion.
Muslim Authorities on Abortion
Muslim authorities or religious figures have a more unified approach to abortion, unlike common Muslims. This is perhaps due to their dedication and faith in the original Quran texts and the sanctity of creation. According to Ekmekci (2017), Muslim authorities perceive abortion in a negative light since it interferes with god’s role. Abortion prevents a potential life from existing and some may even argue that it is equivalent to killing a person. Since most religious authorities consider pregnancy and birth as part of god’s plan, they then consider abortion a sin. While this is the case for most Muslim authorities, one should remember that most Muslims rely on their own interpretation instead of teachings from religious leaders.
Circumstances When Abortion is Permissible
Many Muslims and Islamic organizations consider a certain period in the pregnancy as a point when abortion is permissible. Muslim scholars and organizations, such as the Australian National IMAMS Council, agree that abortion is permissible if it occurs before the 120-day mark of the pregnancy (Ayubu, 2022; The Islamic Position, 2019). Muslims believe that before the 120-day mark, god has not yet placed life into a fetus. This means that a fetus is not a person or a legal entity yet, meaning that abortion during this period does not involve taking away life. Once a pregnancy passes the 120-day mark, the fetus becomes a legal entity, making abortion a more complex topic to approach.
However, certain circumstances can make abortion past the 120-day mark religiously permissible. Some Muslims believe that if the pregnancy can cause serious harm to the mother, then abortion is permissible even after the 120-day mark (Ayubi, 2022). This belief is similar to the Western laws regarding abortion where abortion becomes legal if the pregnancy can cause detrimental health effects to the mother. Islam places more significance on a mother’s life than a fetus, leading to such circumstances to approve abortion.
While the 120-day mark is a common belief regarding abortion, other Muslims suggest that the period when abortion is permissible is shorter. According to Mohammed (2022), some scholars believe that after 40 days of pregnancy, a fetus becomes a human being. They believe that an angel gives a fetus flesh, bones, and senses, turning it into a person. Therefore, abortion beyond the first 40 days is equal to the killing of a regular human. The variations between the 120-day and 40-day mark showcase how different schools of Islamic thought approach the topic of abortion.
Lastly, the ability of a mother to provide a good life for a child can be a factor in determining the permissibility of abortion. According to Ayubi (2022), many Muslims dislike using financial affordability as a reason for abortion, however, it can still be a valid reason for the procedure. As mentioned earlier, Muslims approach abortion by taking into account god’s compassion. Since admitting that a mother cannot care for or provide a good life for the fetus, then one can argue that abortion is an act of mercy. The mother undergoing the process prevents the child from experiencing a harsh life; with high risks of disease, malnutrition, and other physical sufferings. Through this way of thinking, some Muslims perceive abortion as extending god’s compassion to a potential life and freeing them from potential suffering.
Islam and Women’s Rights
The Quran also provides a strong argument regarding women’s rights to their bodies. Q45:15 of the Quran states that women experience the pain of childbirth and the decision on bringing a child into the world is their right (cited in Mohammed 2022). The passage strongly suggests that it is not up to Muslim authorities and religious figures to determine whether abortion is religiously moral or not, the decision is up to a mother. Since the passage is directly from the Quran, this is an essential reference in the abortion debate among Muslims. It also suggests that there is no definite answer to the morality of abortion as the decision will depend on various factors concerning the mother, the fetus, and their interpretation of Islamic belief.
Islam promotes a liberal approach to abortion that allows individual Muslims to think for themselves instead of relying upon religious authorities. The Islamic religion, from its foundation, promotes individual thinking and reasoning leading to the liberal general approach to the abortion topic. While Muslim authorities frown upon most cases of abortion, the consensus agrees that certain circumstances allow abortion to become ethically and religiously permissible. The Islamic religion’s liberal approach to abortion strengthens the rights of Muslim women to their bodies, as well as provides a perspective that other groups can learn from.
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Ayubi, Z. (2022). There is No One Islamic Interpretation on Ethics of Abortion but the Belief in God’s Mercy and Compassion is a Crucial Part of Any Consideration. The Conversation. Available at https://theconversation.com/there-is-no-one-islamic-interpretation-on-ethics-of-abortion-but-the-belief-in-gods-mercy-and-compassion-is-a-crucial-part-of-any-consideration-184534 . Accessed August 1, 2022.
Ekmekci, P. (2017). Abortion in Islamic Ethics, and How it is Perceived in Turkey: A Secular, Muslim Country. J Relig Health. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5215975/. Accessed August 1, 2022.
Mohammed, K. (2022). Islam and Reproductive Choice. RCRC. Available at https://rcrc.org/muslim/. Accessed August 1, 2022.
Anic.org.au. (2019). The Islamic Position on Abortion. Australian National IMAMS Council. Available at https://www.anic.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/THE-ISLAMIC-POSITION-ON-ABORTION.pdf . Accessed August 1, 2022.