Short Answer: “Within very specific circumstances and under strict conditions, abortion is permitted. However, a husband cannot simply decide that his wife must get an abortion, nor is she obliged to obey him in this matter. For him to demand this, without a valid reason, is a grave sin for which he will be held responsible… the wife is not obligated to obey him in this situation.” But, if he does force her to get an abortion, she is not accountable for that sin. Ultimately, we, as an Ummah, have a big responsibility to work to make women safer and more able to leave abusive marriages.
Asalaamu alaykum, and thank you for sending us this delicate question.
Abortion is Permitted, But Only In Some Cases
In Islam, abortion is a very serious matter that cannot be taken lightly.
Within very specific circumstances and under strict conditions, abortion is permitted.
If those conditions are fulfilled, along with consultation with someone of Islamic knowledge, then it is allowed.
However, a husband cannot simply decide that his wife must get an abortion, nor is she obliged to obey him in this matter.
For him to demand this, without a valid reason, is a grave sin for which he will be held responsible.
Making Du’aa’ For Forbidden Things is Forbidden
The husband may fast and make du’aa’ for whatever he wishes, but that doesn’t mean that his du’aa‘ will be accepted or that it is even a permissible du’aa’ to make.
Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“A person’s du’aa’s will continue to be answered so long as he does not pray for something sinful or for the breaking of family ties.” (Muslim)
Next Steps If He Persists
As for the abortion itself, the wife is not obligated to obey him in this situation, especially if she knows that it is forbidden for her to carry out that action in the first place.
There is no obedience to the creation if it entails disobedience to the Creator.
If he continues to insist, the wife should seek support from others – whether it is family and/or religious authority – in order to deter him.
If she is unable to do so, she should seriously consider whether or not she wants to remain married to him – she may have legitimate Islamically-legal reason to have the marriage annulled.
What If I Get the Abortion Because Of His Demands?
If she is in a circumstance where it is difficult for her to leave him–or her safety or that of her other children is at stake–and finds herself trapped, and is forced to proceed with the abortion, there is no blame on her in any way for it.
She will not be considered sinful for doing so. The full responsibility and weight of the crime will be placed upon the husband.
However, if he does not threaten her but is simply pressuring her to do so, and she is the one responsible for making the final decision, she will bear responsibility for it as well.
She is accountable for her actions and will be held responsible for that which is within her control.
Unfortunately, many Muslim women live in situations where they do not have a great deal of control over their lives – whether it is due to lack of financial independence, lack of strong family support, or other factors.
Thus, cases like this one do exist, and are far more common than most Muslims would like to admit.
When women are abused or put into damaging situations, and they are unable to remove themselves from it due to danger to their or their children’s lives, we must know that they are not sinful for what is forced upon them.
Allah tells us:
Allah burdens not a person beyond their scope. (Qur’an 2:286)
Our Collective Responsibility to Such Women
What is equally important for us to know is that we as an an Ummah bear a communal responsibility to the people of our community – the women, the children, the poor, the weak, and the vulnerable.
The fact that many people in such situations do not have a safe place to turn to, do not know how to remove themselves from abusive situations, do not have the support to do so, and in fact genuinely fear religious blame for leaving such circumstances, is a travesty.
Thus, for those of us in a position to do so, it is imperative that we work towards changing this: that we actively work towards building an environment of spiritual comfort, correct religious knowledge, and physical support and safety.
Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said,
“Support your brother whether he is an oppressor or is being oppressed.” It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, we help the one being oppressed but how do we help an oppressor?” The Prophet said, “By seizing his hand.”
In another narration, the Prophet said,
“By restraining him or preventing him from committing injustice, for that is how you support him.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 2312, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2584)
May Allah ease the affairs of the believers, and make us amongst those who upholds the rights of the oppressed, ameen.