Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
2- Islam does not go against the idea of having many children as long as this happens wisely, and it has, in many instances, blessed both male and female progeny.
3- Islam enjoins on Muslim a positive line of action by having a family planning based on valid reasons and recognized necessities.
In responding to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
Marriage in Islam is based not on one single objective or purpose such as procreation or sexual fulfillment. Rather, it aims at catering to multiple purposes. This includes, above all, spiritual tranquility and peace, and cooperation and partnership in fulfilling the divine mandate. Let me explain this briefly.
How Islam Views Sexuality
Islam, being a natural way of life, takes into account all of genuine human instincts such as physical, spiritual, intellectual, emotional, etc. It is for this reason that, unlike some other religious ideologies, Islam looks at sexuality positively.
In other words, instead of attaching any taboo to sexual fulfillment, Islam teaches us to celebrate sexuality within the framework of a lawful union. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“You merit rewards of charity in your sexual union with your spouses!” His companions asked in surprise, “How shall we getting rewards for fulfilling our natural instincts?” He asked, “What if someone were to fulfill his desire unlawfully; would he/she be punished for doing so?” They replied, “Certainly.” Then he said, “Likewise, when one does it within the framework of marriage, he/she will be rewarded for it!” (Muslim)
Although sexuality is one of the main purposes of marriage, it is not the sole one. According to the clear statement of the Quran, tranquility and peace through a successful union is the primary objective of marriage:
“Among His signs is that He created for you spouses of your own kind in order that you may repose to them in tranquility and He instilled in your hearts love and affection for one another; verily, in these are signs for those who reflect (on the nature of the reality).” (Ar-Rum 30:21)
In another place, Allah refers to the relationship between males and females in terms of partnership for achieving goodness and fulfilling the divine mandate for their lives.
“The believers, males and females, are partners of one another; they shall jointly enjoin all that is good and counsel against all that is evil.” (At-Tawbah 9:71)
Procreation of the human species is also another important purpose, although marriage is still valid if, for one reason or another, the stated purpose of procreation cannot be achieved.
Birth Control in Islam
Now coming to the issue of birth control, there is nothing in Islam that prohibits it as long as it is done consensually for valid reasons such as the following:
1- Putting off pregnancy until such time when spouses are in a better position to shoulder responsibilities of parenting,
2- Allowing space between pregnancies in order to provide proper nurturing and taking care of existing children, etc.
Birth control is, however, not permissible or undesirable when spouses do it as a permanent measure to prevent conception altogether. Likewise birth control is not permissible if spouses do it for fear of poverty.
“Don’t kill your children for fear of poverty; it is We who provide sustenance for them and you; verily killing them is a most heinous crime!” (Al-Israa 17:31)
After reflecting on this verse, scholars have concluded that the idea of birth control solely for fear of poverty is unlawful since it implies weakness of faith and trust in Allah as the Provider and Sustainer of all beings.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.