Saturday, July 08, 2017

Female leadership as a sign of Qiyaamah


Question: "I saw a Hadith that says that female leadership is a sign of Qiyamah is this authentic? Does it necessarily say it's a bad thing?

When the best among you are your rulers, the rich amongst you are liberal and the affairs of your State are decided upon by consultation among yourselves, then the surface of the earth is better for you than its inside. And when the worst among you are your rulers, the rich among you are miserly and the affairs of the State are entrusted to women, then the inside of the earth is better for you than its surface (Tirmidhi)."

Answer:

Although this hadith was narrated by Imam atTirmidhi, he himself commented the following regarding its authenticity:
“This hadith is ghareeb (strange), and we do not know of it except from the statement of Saalih al-Mirri, and Saalih al-Mirri has strange ahadith which only he narrates. They are not to be followed, while he is a righteous man.”
As well, Shaykh al-Albani has declared this hadith weak in his book Da’eef al-Jaami’ asSagheer, and it is included in the collection of weak ahadith, Al-Targheeb wat’Tarheeb.

Due to the weakness of this hadith, it should not be taken into consideration and there is no need to discuss its meaning.

http://fatwa.islamweb.net/fatwa/index.php?page=showfatwa&Option=FatwaId&Id=80325

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Not every day or night of Ramadan is one of spiritual uplifting and glowing soulfulness. Sometimes we will be overcome by anger, frustration, resentfulness, despair; sometimes there will be good reason for it, sometimes they're more than the situation deserves, but either way, we will feel them. It's not all from Shaytan, necessarily - these are simply human emotions and realities that we are guaranteed to go through and be tested with.

It's easy to feel like we're 'failing' Ramadan because of it. It's easy to feel as though the day of fasting was wasted, that the night of prayer in the masjid was pointless, because our minds are still roiling and our hearts is still feeling heavy and it feels like our souls are pretty much doomed because, well, we suck.
I'm not going to give some warm fuzzy platitudes about how to feel warm and fuzzy. (I'm not particularly good at that kind of thing anyway.)

I'll be blunt: Ramadan is *meant* to be this way. It's not a month where we magically turn into angelic creatures; nor will all our bad habits (physical or mental) disappear; nor will our lives suddenly become easy.

To the contrary, everything becomes exponentially harder.
There's the obvious fact that we are trying to fast from ill speech and ill deeds in addition to physical needs, but there is also the fact that everything in our daily lives becomes suddenly highlighted and almost exaggerated - average things like food and drink are deeply appreciated, small annoyances become spectacularly aggravating... and our sorrows are felt more deeply, our character failings become more obvious, and our daily struggles become infinitely more difficult.

Many of us are praying Taraweeh in these blessed nights seeking reward from Allah, and a precious sense of peace and tranquility. But that sakeenah is not always - and not necessarily - the true goal of our worship.

Often, we don't realize that it is bringing ourselves to Allah with our negative emotions that is the real litmus test. He already knows us better than we know ourselves, but the challenge is in *us* trusting in Him - instead of turning to other human beings to vent our frustrations. So many times, our first instinct is to tell our best friends, or our parents, or our spouses (or Facebook) how upset we are, yet we forget that the only being capable of doing anything about it is the One in control of Divine Decree.

Whatever is happening in our lives, whatever we are feeling, it is because He has decreed it to occur - perhaps as a test, perhaps as a punishment, perhaps as something that will result in benefit for us in the future, perhaps as something that we don't realize is actually preventing us from a greater harm... and perhaps as a means of us growing closer to Him.

While we should certainly try to seek patience and contentment (and of course that ever-elusive yet ever-desired inner peace), we must remember that the Prophets, the Messengers, and the pious had their fair share of feeling restless and troubled. Their tests didn't disappear because of their prayer, yet they consistently turned to Allah with their distress.

As Ya'qub ('alayhissalaam) said:
{...I only complain of my suffering and my grief to Allah...} (Qur'an 12:86)
And what better time to complain to Allah than now?

The full moon has never looked so breathtakingly beautiful, nor so heartbreaking.

We have watched it blossom every night, accompanying us on our drives to the masjid, peeking through our windows at suhoor. As the crescent has grown with every moonrise, so has our own emaan - strengthened by hours of qiyaam, illuminated by dhikr.
As amazing as the full moon is, however, its beauty is nothing compared to the true Light of the Heavens and the Earth:

{Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light! Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things.}

And the following verse should resonate with us even more:

{[Such niches are] in mosques which Allah has ordered to be raised and that His name be mentioned therein; exalting Him within them in the morning and the evenings...}

As the moon wanes, our worship and our faith should not. Rather than start focusing on Eid coming up or giving into the mid-Ramadan slump, these nights of the full moon should remind us to fill our own hearts with light, to hasten to the niches of light, to seek the Light of our Creator.
These are the nights to beseech our Lord:

{O Allaah, place within my heart light, and upon my tongue light, and within my ears light, and within my eyes light, and place behind me light and in front of me light and above me light and beneath me light. O Allaah, bestow upon me light!}

Many people consider Ramadan to be a time of togetherness - of having communal suhoor and iftaar, of praying taraweeh in Jamaa'ah, of family traditions and the excitement that pulls you through each day.
But for some of us - even born Muslims - Ramadan is a time where our solitude is more pronounced than ever.
The true nature of fasting is such that it is a deed that we do that no one else can truly know about except our Lord - not just whether we are abstaining from food and drink, but how well we are struggling with our inner selves.
Anger, resentment, frustration, heartache... in the absence of the distractions of food and socialised rituals surrounding it, our baser selves emerge at the forefront in all their uncomfortable, unpleasant glory.
Ramadan is a time of taking ownership of who we really are, of admitting our own faults, of confronting ourselves, of being forced to stop deflecting blame onto others.
Ramadan is a time when only we know how well we have made it through the day - or not. In the moments between sajdas and suhoors, between the physical humbling of our bodies and the rituals of worship, we alone know if our hearts are any softer, any purer, any more penitent.
We are not all saints and spiritual paragons. Most of us are painfully human, stumbling over ourselves, clinging with bloodied, tear-stained fingertips to the knowledge that every time we fall - once, twice, ten times a day - alLateef, alWadud, arRahmaan, alGhaffaar is there to catch us, to love us, to have mercy on us, to forgive us.
We who are so very alone, whether in the midst of bustling households or the silence of our own company, are never truly abandoned, though it may feel that way.
{The one who comes with a good deed, its reward will be ten like that or even more. And the one who comes with vice, their reward will be only one like that, or I can forgive them. The one who draws close to Me a hand's span, I will draw close to them an arm's length. And whoever draws near Me an arm's length, I will draw near them a fathom's length. And whoever comes to Me walking, I will go to them running. And whoever faces Me with sins nearly as great as the earth, I will meet them with forgiveness nearly as great as that, provided they do not worship something with Me.}

A lot of us were/are stressed over the long days, but - as always - there are incredible blessings in these lengthy days of Ramadan.
In the winter, the days are over so swiftly that we've barely done our basic chores before it's time for iftaar and the taraweeh rush.
In the summer, though, we have more than enough time for everything: the kids' school routine, our own work, time to work on our khatmas, time to prepare food, and best of all, time to squeeze in a nap (if you're extra privileged, that is).
If we have slipped up in the morning, we have hours to do tawbah and seek to perfect the rest of our fast. If we have used harsh words or watched too many YouTube cat videos or spent too much time on Pinterest staring at food (*cough*), we still have many chances to do istighfaar and work on filling the remainder of our time with activities pleasing to our Lord.
Our nights may be too short for lengthy qiyaam, but our long days as fasting believers means that we have ample opportunity for du'a, dhikr, & qira'ah.
Though sometimes the wait for iftaar seems interminable, it is in those moments that we have even more to be grateful for - more chances for us to be counted as those who endured hunger and thirst solely for the pleasure of our Lord, more time for us to be counted amongst those ransomed from Hellfire, more opportunities to be of those who will enter Jannah from Baab arRayyaan, more blessed minutes and hours to become of Ahlul Qur'aan.
In years to come, we who have been blessed to witness this year's Ramadan will be deeply grateful for it. We were chosen to be of those who sacrificed comfort for a long month, a month of heat and hardship, and for that, we will inshaAllah be of those:
{Reclining therein on raised thrones, they will see there neither the excessive heat of the sun, nor the excessive bitter cold,
The shade thereof is close upon them and the clustered fruits thereof bow down.} (Qur'an 76:13-14)

It will strike us - that moment, like a punch in the gut, of anger, or resentment, or jealousy, or bitterness - just when we think that we have read enough Qur'an to make us religious enough, prayed enough qiyaam to be spiritual enough, endured enough hunger and thirst to be good enough - too good for these feelings.
It could be a minor matter, something petty or trivial; or it could be something that strikes at some of our most painful insecurities. There is something about experiencing such a moment in Ramadan that makes it feel even more intense than it would normally. Our inner human instinct, that initial flare of emotion, seems amplified.
In that moment, the choice before us is even more difficult - and more meaningful - than it is at other times.
Will we choose to become defensive and deflect? Will we become sullen and simmer in our rage? Will we focus on the wrongdoing of others, seize onto their slights against us, harbour a silent grudge? Will we latch onto our own self-righteousness and build inside ourselves a convincing argument of how wrong the other party is, how faultless we are, what victims we are to others' selfishness?
Or will we bite back the urge to lash out, and remember that we are no better, no less human, no less inclined to making silly mistakes and committing unintended offences towards others?
Will we swallow our pride and insecurities, and rather than allowing ourselves to wallow in our emotions, acknowledge the ways in which *we* need to change for the better?
Will we take this as a moment to turn to Allah, wounded pride and stinging hearts and all, and seek His healing?
Will we be of those who say:
{..."Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts [any] resentment toward those who have believed. Our Lord, indeed You are Kind and Merciful.} (Quran 59:10)

Standing in line at taraweeh, the mind makes a quick mental catalogue - that girl's forearms are showing, that aunty's feet are uncovered, that lady's scarf is slipping. Ugh, don't they know it's Ramadan and their salah probably isn't valid now?
The angels on their shoulders write a detailed catalogue - that girl just gave away her entire week's salary in sadaqah secretly, that aunty's heart has been cleansed of all grudges, that lady's children have the best adab and akhlaaq out of everyone in the masjid. Their beauty is magnified in the Sight of Allah and the angels who ascend to witness their Lord's slaves in worship.
The angels on our shoulders write down an even longer list - today, you lost your temper; today, you spoke harshly to someone and drove them away from the masjid; today, your recitation of the Quran did not go deeper than your throat; today, you assumed that your 'knowledge' made you an intellectual, that it made your actions impeccable, that Allah has guaranteed the acceptance of your deeds simply because you (think you) know more about the Deen than everyone else.
Today, the person we were judging - however silently - may well enter Jannah long before we even smell its fragrance.

Ramadan is for the heartbroken and heartbruised; for those who feel like all they really have to cling to is the hunger and thirst of their fasting, and the meagre rak'aat of taraweeh; for those who don't have great spiritual reflections or transformations, but who prostrate themselves nonetheless begging Allah to accept what little they are capable of - the faltering recitation of the few surahs they are still struggling to memorize, the stumbling of weary tongues over half-remembered du'as, the sorrow of those who know they should do better, who *have* done better in the past, but who are too heartsore now to do more than fulfill their obligations and hold back the aches in their chests.
Ramadan is for the heartbroken and heartbruised; for those who flinch at the Divine Verses of warning, of punishment and hypocrisy, whose sinking hearts and guilty consciences are outweighed only by the desperate hope and knowledge of their Lord's Mercy and Love, who know that this is the month they can count on to have their souls freed from the chains of Fire they had earned throughout the year.
Ramadan is for the heartbroken and heartbruised; the ones who once considered themselves confident and then found themselves humiliated; the ones who overestimated their own strength and were brought abruptly back to earth, their faces rubbed with the dust of reality; the ones who were convinced that they were of the purified, of the pious, of the righteous... and then found themselves staring into a reflection warped beyond recognition.
Ramadan is for the heartbroken and heartbruised, for those of us who have betrayed ourselves, for those of us who feel betrayed by others, for those of us who have learned to trust no one and nothing but our Lord.
Ramadan is for the heartbroken and heartbruised: for those of us who fast the days and pray the nights with nothing more than sheer faith and the promise of Allah's forgiveness to keep us going.
Man saama Ramadan emaanan wah'tisaaban, ghufira lahu ma taqaddaama min thanbih.
Whosoever fasts Ramadan with emaan and ihtisaab (assurance of its reward), their previous sins will be forgiven.
Man qaama Ramadan emaanan wah'tisaaban, ghufira lahu ma taqaddama min thanbih.
Whosoever prays qiyaam in Ramadan with emaan and ihtisaab (assurance of its reward), their previous sins will be forgiven.

Have you ever had that moment where, all of a sudden, you remember something that you said or did in the past, the severity of which you only realized later on?
That sharp inhalation, shortness of breath, the flush of humiliation, the sick lurching in the pit of your stomach as you recall hurtful words, or an action that was so clearly displeasing to Allah... it is a very physical reaction, a recoiling from your own past deeds.
It may not even be the first time you think about those actions, it may not even be the first time to make istighfaar because of them... but sometimes, it may be the first time that you really and truly feel absolutely sickened at the realization of the gravity of it all. It might not even have been a 'big deal' - perhaps it was a cruel joke to a sensitive friend, or not having fulfilled a promise that was important to someone, or betraying a secret that you didn't think was all that serious.
And yet... and yet, at this moment, your memory of that action is stark and gut-wrenching.
It is a deeply unpleasant feeling.
It is also a very necessary one.
Tawbah - seeking forgiveness from Allah - is something that we speak about, especially in Ramadan, the month of forgiveness. However, it's also something that we tend to speak about in general terms, or write off as something simple - "Just say astaghfirAllah and don't do it again."
In truth, tawbah is about much more than muttering istighfaar under your breath. It is a process, an emotional experience, one that engages your memory, your soul, and your entire body.
The first step of tawbah is to recognize the sin - whether seemingly small or severe - and to understand just how wrong it was. Each and every one of our deeds is written in our book of deeds; each and every deed will be presented to us on the Day of Judgment for us to be held accountable for. There are times when we say things so casually that it doesn't even register to us
how we could be affecting the person we've spoken to - as RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) once told A'ishah (radhiAllahu 'anha), "You have said a word which would change the sea (i.e. poison or contaminate it) if it were mixed in it." (Sunan Abi Dawud)
The second step is to feel true remorse. It's not enough to rationally acknowledge that action as being sinful; one must *feel* guilt, remorse, and grief over having committed it.
This experience is so much more powerful than a mere "I'm sorry," or "omg that was awful"; it is an act that embodies our submission to Allah because it requires us to make ourselves incredibly emotionally vulnerable, and in that moment, to experience a deep pain and acknowledge our wrongdoing. It is to hold your heart out to Allah and to beg Him, with every fiber of your being, with tears in your eyes, with a lump in your throat, wracked with regret, to please, please, *please* forgive you - because without it, without His Mercy and His Forgiveness and His Gentleness and His Love towards us, we have no hope and we will be utterly destroyed.
{Rabbanaa thalamnaa anfusanaa, wa illam taghfir lanaa wa tar'hamnaa, lanakunanna mina'l
khaasireen!}
{Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers!} (Qur'an 7:23)
This experience of tawbah is powerful, emotional, and heartbreaking. It is meant to be. It is a reminder to us of how truly dependent we are upon our Lord and our Creator, how nothing else in our lives can give us joy or a sense of peace if He is displeased with us. It is a reminder to us of how deeply we crave His Love, of how desperately we need it, of how His Pleasure is the ultimate goal of our existence.
Finally, there is the step of resolving never to commit that sin again, to redress the wrongs if possible, and to follow up the bad deed with a good one.
The vow is one we make to ourselves, asking Allah's help to uphold it - because we are incapable of doing anything at all without His Permission; the righting of wrongs is what we do to
correct our transgression against others' rights over us, although there are times when we may well be unable to seek another individual's forgiveness, whether because of distance, death, or
otherwise; and the good deeds to undertake as penance are numerous, whether they be sadaqah or increased 'ebaadah.
But it doesn't end there. And it never will.
Tawbah is not a once-in-a-lifetime event. It's not even a once-a-year event, or once a month, or once a week. It is meant to be a daily experience, a repeated occurrence, in the earliest hours of
the morning, in the depths of the last third of the night, during your lunch break or your daily commute or in the middle of a social gathering.
Tawbah is a lifelong journey, for who amongst us doesn't commit mistakes and errors every day?
All we can do is beg of Allah not only for His Forgiveness, but also:
{Allahumma ij'alnaa min at-tawwaabeen.} - O Allah, make us amongst those who are constantly engaging in repentance!

I have been through Ramadan while pregnant, throwing up, and struggling with thoughts about killing myself.
I have been through Ramadan breastfeeding, sleep-deprived, and utterly isolated from family and friends.
I have been through Ramadan in a uniquely poly situation, wondering how it was that I managed to survive not just the hunger and thirst, but the emotional roller coaster that felt more exhausting than the five kids, late hours, and the scramble to complete my khatmah on time.
Each year, I nursed different wounds, sought healing for old scars, and found solace in solitude in the middle of the night.
Each year, I thought that my circumstances were too much, too difficult, that I wouldn't be able to get through the month without utter failure.
Each year, my Lord blessed me with a heart that was just slightly softer, a mind just slightly wiser, and a soul just slightly more conscious of Him.
This year, I am more privileged than ever - the kids are no longer homeschooled, I have immediate family nearby, I have work hours that accommodate my schedule, and there are over 18 hours of daylight in which to accomplish all that I had set as my Ramadan goals.
And yet... and yet, halfway through Ramadan, I have already failed, and there is no one and nothing to blame except myself. In a month of self-accountability, I have held myself to shamefully low standards and made excuses for my poor commitment.
My personal faults have become painfully clearer, my weaknesses more obvious, my struggles more embarrassingly simplistic and yet feel emotionally insurmountable.
The inspirational quotes and posts are all over Muslim social media, and they are indeed excellent reminders. They are encouragement to those of us lagging behind, a gentle push to remember that the month isn't over yet, that we still have time to change, to get better, to earn the Pleasure of the Most Merciful.
Nonetheless, it is difficult... as it should be. Ramadan strips us of our pretenses and shows us who we really are, in times of difficulty, in times of ease, in times of mediocrity.
The test lies not in hunger or thirst or desire, but in discovering who we are each year. We who may have emerged strong in times of crisis may find ourselves slipping in times of leisure. It is not enough for us to rest on the laurels of past trials, to depend on mere belief as the means of passing the litmus test of true faith and character.
The test is renewed each year to match who *we* are each year. We believe, but we must also show the depth of how our belief translates to action, to character, and ultimately, to who we will choose to be... for the rest of Ramadan and after.
{Alif, Laam, Meem.
Do the people think that they will be left to say, "We believe" and they will not be tried?
But We have certainly tried those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will surely make evident the liars.} (Quran 29:2)

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Dead or Alive: Stories of Muslim Women Who Had Abortions

Having discussed the purely legalistic aspects of abortion, from both a secular and Islamic perspective, it is also important to recognize the on-the-ground reality of why women seek abortions to begin with – and in particular, why Muslim women undergo abortion.
While there are quite a few statistics and studies available on why women get abortions, it is important to note that they are primarily based on information from North America and Europe. There is very little detailed information about why women in non-Western countries (both Muslim and non-Muslim) seek abortions, and even less that is specifically focused on Muslim women.
The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada[1] lists the following reasons:
  • Birth control failure (measures were taken to prevent pregnancy but were unsuccessful).
  • Finances (fear of not being able to afford a baby).
  • Relationship issues (negative reaction from the partner following discovery of pregnancy; being in an abusive relationship)
  • Medical complications (whether in relation to the mother or to the fetus).
  • Personal circumstances (not feeling ready to have a child; having a child would interfere with school or career; already has children and does not want more).
The Guttmacher Institute published a paper titled “Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives[2],” and listed the following as the most prevalent reasons (some of which overlap with one another):
  • Interference with work, school, or ability to care for dependents (74%)
  • Finances (73%)
  • Relationship issues (48%)
  • Family structure (4 in 10 women said they had completed their
    childbearing, and almost one-third were not ready to have a child)
  • Medical concerns (13% of women were concerned about their or the fetus’s health)
The above statistics list the reasons in the most summarized manner, without specifically mentioning details regarding the drop in abortion rates, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds of the respondents, and their age and education levels. It should be noted that once education, socio-economic background, and ethnicity is factored in, the reasons and the percentages of abortions that take place rise.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, “Women who are aged 18-29, unmarried, black or Hispanic, or economically disadvantaged—including those on Medicaid—have higher abortion rates. The overall abortion rate decreased by 11% between 1994 and 2000. The decline was greatest for 15-17-year-olds, women in the highest income category, those with college degrees and those with no religious affiliation.
Abortion rates for women with incomes below 200% of poverty and for women with Medicaid coverage increased between 1994 and 2000. The rate of decline in abortion among black and Hispanic adolescents was lower than that among white adolescents, and the abortion rate among poor teenagers increased substantially.”[3]
Of course, these statistics are drawn from primarily non-Muslim populations, with greatly differing religious values, cultural backgrounds, and access to medical facilities that provide abortions in a safe manner.
With regards to Muslim women, there is almost no detailed information regarding their experiences with abortion. The sole study available online that focuses specifically on Muslim women is found through the official journal of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.
In a paper titled, “Muslim Women Having Abortions in Canada,” the authors of the study collected answers from questionnaires distributed at two urban abortion clinics. 53 self-identified Muslim women responded, providing insight into their personal views and experiences.

Muslim Women Attitudes 

When asked about their Muslim beliefs and practices, 51 participants (96.2%) agreed with the statement “Any Muslim woman has the right to have an abortion,” 17 (32.1%) “agreed with Islamic principles,” 14 (26.4%) agreed (always or sometimes) that “Islam prevented a woman from having another child after an abortion,” 26 (49.1%) said they felt guilty because of Islam, 24 (45.3%) said they prayed every week, and 21 (39.6%) said that they used prayer and meditation to deal with their guilt.
A third of the women (n = 16, 30.2%) were completely pro-choice and said all the reasons a woman should be allowed to have an abortion listed in the questionnaire were acceptable, while the others had reservations and 11 (20.8%) identified only one acceptable reason.
There remain numerous unanswered questions about how common it is for Muslim women to seek abortions (whether in Western countries or otherwise), why they seek abortions, the role of family pressure, fiqhi opinion, and more.
Despite the lack of statistics, however, it is not impossible to gain some insight into Muslim women’s personal experiences with abortion. Upon request, Muslim women did respond to a call out for sharing their experiences with the public. The following are a compilation of various Muslim women’s stories about their ordeals.

Sister A:

I have had two abortions and believe me, more often than not, I sink into depression thinking of the sin i have committed.
Both instances my husband wasn’t ready for them. He wouldn’t even let his finger touch me until I went through it.
It was a painful experience, especially when you are sitting in that room alone with a video that is playing about how an abortion is carried out. And I was told the heart was beating in mine. I sat through that video with tears streaming down my face, lay down on the bed crying, and I felt like my heart was being ripped open when I heard the equipment sucking out that tiny blood clot with its heart beating. And till today, I sometimes think about it and cry.
You may wonder why I didn’t stand up to it. I did, when it was with my son. I stood my ground and had him. Now he is a young man of 13 years, my firstborn being a girl now 17 years old.
My marriage was an arranged one. That was the culture and it was such in my community. I was 17 years old then. I didn’t have much of a choice then. It didn’t mean I didn’t love my husband. I had to.
We had our differences. I guess it was the upbringing.
18 years later, I stand as a single mother and I am happy alhamdulillah. I am blessed with 2 beautiful children. It’s been 5 years and life goes on. even if it is a struggle

Star Hussain:

Back when I first converted to Islam, I was 19 and desperately in love with my Muslim boyfriend. He made me get an abortion using multiple methods of emotional blackmail – even after I tried to leave.
He wasn’t ready to be married, and he didn’t want to be “that guy” that had a child out of wedlock. It nearly killed me – and I married him later anyway out of guilt. I now have two wonderful kids, and he ended up dying of cancer several years ago.
I still think about the abortion with regret, and will fight so that no man gets to decide what women do. If I had my choice, I would have had the baby. But other women being forced to give birth by men is just as wrong. What we don’t understand when we sit in judgement, is that no matter what law is put into place, there will be an unintended innocent victim of it. Allah subhana wata’allah will judge me – I do not feel adequate to judge others.

Gretchen Balmer:

I scheduled two appointments for abortion during my last pregnancy. It was unplanned and my marriage was ending; we separated when I was 7.5 months along. When I was considering it it was very early and I consulted with a trusted teacher and our local Imam, both of whom said it was permissible but still discouraged it.
It was a very difficult decision. But ultimately I chose to keep the baby and I’m glad I did. He is 2.5 now, delightful, and having him during such a difficult time in my life actually helped me to take better care of myself. Our marriage ended upon his birth, so it was very bittersweet. But I felt strong and capable and was surrounded by good women at home. It was my best birth by far.

Umm Aasiyah:

I remember doing an obs/gynae placement in Libya, and being present for a C-section where the baby was born with severe deformities. The problems had been picked up in pregnancy, and unfortunately the sort of deformities were such that a normal vaginal delivery was impossible, hence the C-section.
However, it appeared that both the parents and the clinical team were aware that the baby would probably not live long ex utero (although it is sometimes hard to predict these things).
Once born, alive, the baby was placed in another room, wrapped in a blanket but without any further medical care or incubation. The baby died within a few hours.
I have no idea about the distress to the family, or how much the baby suffered, or what they were even told later, or what the team felt.
I don’t know if termination would have been an option at that time. I know here in the U.K. it would have been – but that alternatively a live birth would have had compassionate support and as much medical input as deemed appropriate by family and medics. The situation I witnessed just seemed unbearable and inhumane. To Allah we belong and to Allah we shall return.
Katrina Daly Thompson:
My ex-husband tried to force me to have an abortion because I let a male ob-gyn examine me.

Sister B:

I have not admitted this to anyone whose views I know about it, but I had an abortion. Almost 4 years ago. My husband is in prison and has been for the last 6.5 years. I was in need of physical comfort and cheated on him with a guy I didn’t even like. I broke off the affair, then found out I was pregnant.
I had resolved to do the only thing I knew was right… I wanted to keep my child and raise him/her in the best way possible without his/her biological father knowing she even existed. I told my husband what happened. I told him I was pregnant. He immediately told me to get an abortion– it was either him of the baby that stayed in my life.
It was the hardest decision I had ever made. It was almost too late by the time I got an appointment for the procedure.
Sometimes, I wish it was. I remember getting into the room, dropping to my knees, placing my forehead on the ground in sujood and asking Allah and my baby to forgive me for the evil I was about to commit. I bawled so hard for a few minutes like that.
Finally, I felt a calmness, an almost disconnect from the baby. And in that moment, I stood up and began to undress. The nurse must have heard me crying, because she came into the room a few seconds after I started getting undressed and asked if I was alright.
In a fog of a strange calmness, I told her yes. I finished undressing, then waited my turn. The nurse stood by my side as the doctor did her thing. The nurse told me that if I needed to, I could hold her hand. I left my hands folded over my upper abdomen, my face turned away from her so she wouldn’t see my silent tear.
Afterward, in the recovery room, I was given a warm blanket and some pain relief. I remember leaving the clinic and driving home. I had work the next day. It felt like menses cramps, and I felt empty.
A couple weeks later, my niece was born. She and I have a special bond, I think. When I held her for the first time, her tiny hand was resting on my uterus, almost like she was telling me it’s okay, aunty, your baby is happy and you will be too.
My husband and I are still together, though we’ve had a very rough 3 years. He is still in prison, and comes home in 2.5 years. This last year has been hard, but we are both growing as individuals and as a couple. He’s learned to trust me again, and he has apologised for having given me such an impossible choice. We’ve talked about it a few times over the years, and he said this on his own.
I cut ties with the young man before I found out I was pregnant, and have not spoken to him since. I have no right to play the victim, and I don’t, but I mourn the loss of my child whenever I hear stories of others having miscarried or stillbirths or abortions.
This is the first time I have told the full story. I am still unaware of any physical pain that may have occurred during or after the procedure. I know that time heals, and I can only hope and pray that Allah and my child forgive me on Judgement Day. There are days that I regret this decision deeply…others where I feel the bittersweet relief that I did this, the feel the twinges of guilt for having taken a life.

Sister C:

I had a very brief disastrous marriage to a dude who turned out to have severe psychological issues, horrific OCD to be precise – he used to scrub his hands and arms raw with a scouring pad under scalding water after touching me
Failed to persuade him to get support (i.e. counselling). I consulted a Hanafi scholar who specialised in marital counseling, who tried to counsel dude, dude resisted, I eventually asked for talaq, got it.
Then found out I was pregnant
This was when my first child was still in Turkey (being kept away from me by her biological father), so I thought I’d die childless and I wanted to keep baby
Dude said he would take me back as wife against my will if I kept the baby and would have social services take it away from me. He said he’d tell them I was mentally unstable or violent or whatever. He didn’t like loose ends and didn’t want to have a kid knocking around somewhere without his full control over its upbringing.
Long story short, he kinda blackmailed me into terminating the pregnancy. I asked the same scholar who said the largest majority of scholars okayed abortion before 40 days was up.  He said that because I’d lost my child already and having another taken away from me would devastate me, he considered circumstances appropriate
So I had the foetus “chemically terminated ”  as they call it. It was pretty horrible.
On the other hand, Alhamdulillah, because no way would I have married my husband if I hadn’t got the termination, and Allah replaced what I lost with that which is so much better Alhamdulillah.

Conclusion

While the above are certainly not equivalent to detailed studies and statistics, they shed light upon the lived realities of Muslim women with regards to abortion. These personal anecdotes differ sharply in many ways from assumptions held about women in such situations. It is sorrowful to note that in many of these cases, the women were pressured into undergoing abortion due to the coercion of men.
In some cases, women have actually been encouraged to get an abortion by doctors who did not think that it was ‘worth’ going through a pregnancy that would result in a child with a likelihood of Down’s Syndrome or other such medical exceptionalities.
All of this flies contrary to the misconception that women are flippant about abortion or use it as a means of merely enabling a promiscuous lifestyle.
There are many in the Muslim community who worry that the masses are becoming more and more heavily influenced by secular liberal attitudes towards sexual promiscuity and ‘traditional family values.’
One such concern is regarding the idea of “my body, my rules.” It is true that in Islam, no human being – male or female – is truly free to make any and all decisions regarding their own bodies. For example, tattoos are explicitly prohibited in the Shari’ah, as mentioned in the following hadith:
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said the one who gives tattoos and the one who receives them have been cursed, as well as the one who makes hair extensions and the one who receives them…(Sunan An-Nasa’i 3416, graded saheeh.)
Zina is another sin which is prohibited for both men and women at an equal level of seriousness, as Allah alone is the Law-Maker and decreed that such actions are dire transgressions. Thus, insofar as the idea goes that any human being should be able to do anything they want with their bodies, this does not hold completely true in the Islamic sense.
However, this also does not mean that people have no say at all when it comes to issues such as reproduction. As the previous articles illustrated in detail, there are definitely situations where individual circumstances are taken seriously and into consideration.
Far too many laypeople are far too quick to pass quasi-scholarly rulings that they are not qualified to make, and to make harsh judgements about others whose situations they are not aware of. When it comes to something like abortion, the masses must realize that this is not a topic which any one person should feel free to comment on. Rather, the sensitivity of the matter, in each and every individual situation, must be taken into consideration by those who are indeed qualified and required to deal with these cases.
As Muslims, we should be wary of going to any extreme, whether it be the perceived ‘liberal’ extreme of rejecting anything originating from Divine Law, or the conservative extreme wherein harshness and the most stringent option – even when there is a permissible, more lenient option – are viewed as being more righteous merely by dint of being more difficult.
Rather, we should remember that before making blanket statements and general assumptions about topics such as abortion, we should be aware that such sensitive issues require qualified scholarly input. As well, it should be at the forefront of our mind that Islam is the Middle Path – that we have been described as Ummatun Wasatun, the community of moderation. Islam came as a mercy to humankind, with a Divine Law imbued with compassion and wisdom.
We pray that Allah guides us all to that which is most beloved to Him, to protect us from times of trial and tribulation in our personal lives, and to fill our own hearts with mercy towards those going through such times, ameen.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Dead or Alive: Juristic Permission for Abortion in Islam

Juristic Permission for Abortion

What constitutes ‘legitimate reason’ for an abortion, whether in the first forty days or within the first one hundred and twenty days, is divided into two types: darurah (absolute necessity), which in the context of abortion means medical necessity; and haajjah (pressing need), which in the context of abortion, are related to societal issues.[1]
With regards to medical necessity, it is unanimous that the safety of the mother’s life takes precedence over all else.[2]  Any other circumstance of medical necessity that would permit the abortion of a fetus would require the expertise and testimony of qualified doctors, ideally with Islamic knowledge, but not necessarily. If a doctor with an Islamic background is not available, as will be the case in the majority of situations, a report from medical experts should be procured and presented to an Islamic scholar.
It is worth noting that in many Western countries, hospitals have ethics committees which liaises with religious leaders to help families come to a decision in such cases.
The definition of a haajjah (societal need) is highly dependent upon each circumstance and must be determined by a qualified Islamic expert.
The following are examples of fataawah shared online that address specific cases that fall under the case of haajjah rather than darurah (medical necessity).

1- Rape

Women who have been raped are considered to have a haajjah when it comes to the pregnancy – it is understandable that pregnancy resulting as rape can be traumatizing to the woman, and that she may not wish to proceed with it.
One of the basic principles of Islam is to relieve distress and hardship, so if a Muslim girl who is keen to remain chaste is exposed to bestial aggression and fears the effect that this may have on her reputation or her honor, or fears that she may be an outcast or that she may be subjected to harm such as being killed, or she fears that she may suffer psychological or nervous diseases, or that her sanity may be affected, or that shame may be brought upon her family for a matter in which she is not guilty of any sin, or that the child will not find any place of safety, then I say: that if this is the case, there is nothing wrong with her aborting the foetus before the soul is breathed into it, especially when it has become easy for a woman to find out if she is pregnant or not, with the advance of medical means of detecting pregnancy in the first week. The earlier the abortion is carried out, the more appropriate this concession is. And Allah knows best.”[3]

2- Zina

The case of zina (adultery) is one where there is some debate and difference. Some scholars permit it, under certain conditions, and depending upon the context of the situation.
For example, for a woman whose life may be endangered if her family discovers her pregnancy that resulted due to an illicit relationship, Shaykh Salah asSawy permits an abortion as long as it is done before the soul is blown into the fetus.
If the woman sincerely repented to Allaah and feared for her life if her family knew of her major sin, then I hope that Allaah forgives her if she has an abortion, with the condition that she does it immediately and without delay, because the act becomes more unlawful with each passing day.[4]
In another situation of zina, the repentance of the mother is considered to be a factor in whether abortion would be allowed or not.

The rule is the abortion is prohibited because the fetus enjoys the right to life. His status is that of any other human being; it bears no relation to the error of his/her mother, nor will (s)he be asked about her [the mother’s] crime. Also, how could she add to the crime of zina, [the crime of] murder? Fiqh scholars agree on this ruling if the fetus has had its spirit blown into it; if it is before that, however, it is subject to the deliberation and ijtihad of the scholars.
The stance we choose is that, if she is still in the initial days of pregnancy (within the first forty days), and this abortion would make it easier for her to repent and return to Allah Most High, then there would be no sin in that, on condition that her repentance is sincere and truthful; and we ask Allah to keep her from sin.[5]
However, other scholars are concerned that easily permitting abortion in the case of zina would lessen the sense of severity and impact of zina itself, and therefore prohibit it.
The efforts and ijtihaad of the fuqaha’ have focused on abortion in general terms, and the rulings on that and the consequences that may follow. They have not gone into details concerning cases where the pregnancy results from immorality. This may be because they consider that to come under the same ruling as abortion of a pregnancy resulting from a proper marriage. If abortion of a pregnancy resulting from a proper marriage is haraam under normal circumstances, then it is even more so in cases where the pregnancy results from immorality, because permitting abortion of pregnancy which results from immorality would encourage evil actions and the spread of immorality.
One of the basic principles of Islam is that it forbids immorality and all the ways that lead to it, e.g., it forbids tabarruj (wanton display of one’s charms) and free mixing (of men and women).
Furthermore, those who say that abortion is permitted within the first forty days of a legitimate pregnancy based their ijtihaad on a concession, like not fasting in Ramadaan for those who have valid excuses, or shortening the four-rak’ah prayers whilst travelling, but it is stated in sharee’ah that concessions cannot be connected to sins.
Imaam al-Quraafi said: “With regard to sins, they cannot be taken as reasons for concessions. Hence one who is travelling for the purpose of sin cannot shorten his prayers or break his fast, because the reason for doing these is travelling, but in this case the reason for travelling is to commit sin, so the concession does not apply, because granting a concession on the basis of sin will encourage people to sin further.” (al-Furooq, 2/33)[6]

3- Medical Complications with the Fetus

In addition to the issue of the mother’s life being in danger, the condition of the fetus also plays a role in determining whether or not an abortion may be allowed. With the advent of modern medicine, there are more ways to protect the health of a fetus even in cases where it is predicted that it may be born with certain medical conditions, whether it be Down’s Syndrome or otherwise.
However, in situations where the complications are severe and there is little chance for the fetus to live a dignified life once it is born, then scholars have allowed for abortions to be made permissible (again, on a case-by-case basis) if doctors testify to its necessity.
If it is proven in a definitive fashion, beyond any doubt, by a trustworthy medical committee, that the foetus is deformed, and that this deformity cannot be treated by the specialists, then in my view it is permissible to abort it, in view of the difficulties it would face in life and the hardship this would present to the parents, and the burdens and responsibilities of care it would place on the society.These considerations and others prompted the Islamic Fiqh Committee of the Muslim World League in its 12th conference held in Makkah on 15 Rajab 1410 AH (10/2/1990 CE), to issue the statement that “it is permissible to abort a foetus which is deformed in the manner mentioned above, with the consent of the parents and within the first 120 days from the beginning of the pregnancy.”
The decision of the committee was in accordance with the fatwa of the Standing Committee for Academic Research and Issuing Fatwas in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, no. 2484, issued on 16/7/1399 AH.[7]
In the case of multiple fetuses (twins, triplets, quadruplets etc), abortion of one more of the fetuses may become permissible if necessary to ensure the health and safety of the mother or other fetuses.
If an authentic committee of medical doctors agree that any fetus endangers the life of mother or the fetus itself is disfigured beyond cure, aborting it is permissible. Note that abortion should be carried out within the first forty days or few days after it. Sometimes it is observed that a woman conceives by three fetuses and she lives a normal life without facing any dangers to her life so, one should not be restricted to a certain number (one or two) of pregnancies. Thus, every fetus (pregnancy) that does not endanger the life of a mother should not be aborted.[8]
Another medical complication that would permit an abortion would be in the case of an ectopic pregnancy.[9] Due to it not being a viable pregnancy in any way, and which would result in physical harm to the woman if it were to be left untreated, it is permitted to remove the fertilized egg from the fallopian tube via surgical procedures.

4- Severe difficulty

This is a vague term that covers any situation which does not fall under the above two, and is left to the interpretation of scholars. With the exclusion of fear of poverty, which is categorically prohibited as a reason for abortion due to explicit ayaat of the Qur’an, this phrase can be used to describe many circumstances that people may find themselves in.
This could include the case of a woman who already has children and who would experience severe psychological distress (such that it would impair her physical and/or mental well-being); a woman who is in a situation where she feels that she does not have the capacity to raise a newborn[10]; or a woman whose husband is a faasiq (someone who is morally corrupt or defiantly disobedient towards Allah).[11]
However, it cannot be stressed enough that each situation must be taken to someone who is Islamically qualified to determine whether any given situation achieves the level of haajjah or darurah that makes abortion permissible.

When Is Abortion Completely Forbidden?

1- Fear of Poverty

There is no disagreement amongst any of the scholars that fear of poverty is not a legitimate reason to permit abortion. Indeed, it is utterly prohibited due to the repeated admonition in the Qur’an not to kill one’s children out of fear of poverty.
{Say, “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them.(Qur’an 6:151)
{Indeed, your Lord extends provision for whom He wills and restricts [it]. Indeed He is ever, concerning His servants, Acquainted and Seeing. And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.} (Qur’an 17:30-31)
Sh Salah asSawy says on the topic: The basic principle concerning the abortion of a pregnancy within the first forty days of development is to refrain, except when there is dire necessity, clear need or obvious benefit. Fear of providing for the child is not one of those reasons, for verily, the One who creates the child and forms it in the womb is responsible for its provision.
After the soul is blown into the fetus, the rule on abortion is that it is strictly forbidden, except in the case when a choice must be made between the life of the child and the life of the mother, according to the testimony of trustworthy, reputable physicians. In such a case, the life of the mother would be given preference since she is the origin. As such, we advise the afflicted couple to give thanks for this blessing and to keep it, unless they find real interests besides the fear of poverty.[12]


2- Abortion After Ensoulment

There is no disagreement whatsoever that any abortion past the stage of 120 days is a sin and, while considered to be just short of murder (meaning that there is no death penalty for the one who causes it to happen), requires repentance and an expiation.
It should be noted that while there is no death penalty, the expiation itself is analogous to that of killing a living person in that it requires blood money. This is due to the fact that once the soul has been breathed into the body, the fetus is now considered a living being whose life is sacrosanct.
In the case where medical complications are detected after the 120 day period, even if there is a chance that the fetus will die immediately or shortly after birth, late term abortion is still prohibited. The pregnancy must be carried to full term, except and unless an emergency situation arises and the mother’s life is in danger. [13] [14] In such a case of emergency, no diya is required either of the doctor or of the mother.

Expiation

There is some discussion over the details of what the expiation for an abortion past 120 days is.
It is generally agreed upon that blood-money must be offered; that is, to purchase and free a believing slave (or to pay the equivalent of that cost). This must go to the heirs of the fetus, not including anyone involved in causing the abortion. In addition, those responsible for the abortion must also fast two consecutive months.[15] It should be noted that if the doctors involved in the procedure are Muslim, they too bear the burden of paying the kaffaarah.[16]
The following discusses the issue of diyah in more detail:
There is disagreement among the scholars as to the asset that must be used in the determination of the blood money (diyah); whether it must be gold, silver, or camels, or a combination thereof. This results in a tangible disagreement in the amount that must be paid.
It could be calculated using gold as the determining asset. In his case, a man’s diyah is one thousand dinârs of gold. Each dinâr weighs 4.25 grams. Hence, the diyah in modern terms would be equal to 4250 grams of gold.
This would then have to be converted into its value in the local currency in order to be paid in cash.
Using the camel as the determining asset is in compliance with the decision of the Supreme Council of Scholars in Saudi Arabia. It is as follows:
The diyah of a man is 100 camels, (which has been calculated to approximate roughly one hundred thousand Saudi riyals). The diyah for a woman is half of that.
With regard to the blood money in the event of an abortion or induced miscarriage, the determination is as follows:
The fetus will be either delivered dead or delivered alive and then die.
If someone criminally induced an abortion or miscarriage and the fetus is still alive upon delivery and dies as a result of this action, then the payment of full blood money (diyah) will be required. It would be same as the diyah of an adult man or woman.
If it is delivered dead, a compensation known as ghurrah must be paid. This amount has to be paid regardless of whether or not the fetus had been endowed with a soul (by passing four months from conception). However, payment of ghurrah will not be obligatory if the fetus has yet to take on the semblance of a human form.
The nutfah (when the embryo is in the form of a coagulated drop) has no ruling pertaining to it whatsoever. Al-Qurtubî relates that this is a point of consensus in Islamic Law. The same is the case with the `alaqah (a leech-like clot) and the mudghah (when it resembles a morsel of flesh which is not formed yet).
Determining whether full formation of the fetus has taken place must be decided by trustworthy doctors after they examine the fetus.
If the fetus has taken on the semblance of a human form and is delivered dead, then the ghurrah must be paid. The estimation of ghurrah which was mentioned in the hadîth as being equal to that of a slave boy or girl. It is estimated as being equal to one tenth of his mother’s diyah or one twentieth of a man’s diyah.
If we determine the ghurrah on the basis of a diyah of one thousand dinârs or 4250 grams of gold, we take one twentieth of that, which would 212.5 grams of gold.
This would then have to be converted into its value in the local currency in order to be paid in cash.
Using the camel as the determining asset where the diyah of the man is 100 camels, the ghurrah will equal the value of five camels.[17]

In the next part, we’ll see how abortion is a reality among Muslims. Stay tuned..
References: