Birth Control: Through sterilization

Q65 :Since birth control is not allowed in Islam, may I know if it is permissible to try to elongate the period between pregnancies, depending on necessity and on condition that both husband and wife agree on that? Is it also forbidden in Islam to sterilize a man or a woman in order to control birth?

A65 : You have started by saying that birth control is not allowed in Islam. I am afraid that this is a very general statement which is far from accurate. I have often mentioned in this column that the authority to forbid anything belongs only to Allah. No one can declare anything forbidden without clear evidence from the Qur'an or the Sunnah. Therefore, anyone who claims that birth control is forbidden must produce his evidence. When he tries, he will soon discover that his efforts are far from successful. To start with, there is nothing in the Qur'an on this subject. When we look at Hadith, we find several reports by companions of the Prophet saying that they used to resort to methods known to them to delay conception and they told the Prophet about them, or that he was aware of them, but he did not speak against them. Indeed, he told them that such methods would not prevent creation of any human being Allah wants to create. On the basis of these reports, contemporary scholars have given a verdict that new methods of birth control are permissible, provided that they are absolutely safe. However, this permissibility applies in individual cases. Needless to say, proper spacing between pregnancies is perfectly acceptable from the Islamic point of view, as long as it is done through legitimate means. When sterilization of either man or woman is done for compelling health reasons, it is acceptable. Proper advice should be sought from a competent, God-fearing Muslim Doctor. If he determines that such a course of action is absolutely necessary to protect the person's life, then it is permissible. Otherwise, such an operation involves a change of what Allah has created and, therefore, it is forbidden.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )