Agreeing not to have children

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

Agreeing not to have children


My husband and I agreed amicably not to have children and to conduct an abortion if I happen to get pregnant. This is because he has another wife and supports three children. I agreed to his request due to his great insistence. Allah willed that I become pregnant, and now, my husband wants me to choose between having an abortion and a divorce. He also accuses me of betrayal and deceit. Is it permissible for me to conduct an abortion on account of our agreement even though I am yearning to have children? Is it permissible for me to honor our agreement and conduct an abortion even though I am yearning to have children?


The agreement in question is divided into two parts: the first is the couple's agreement not to have children and the second is their decision to terminate the pregnancy if the wife becomes pregnant. The first part of the agreement is permissible since the ruling for 'azl (coitus interruptus) revolves around being lawful or disliked; there is a scholarly controversy on the matter (the various means of birth control take the same ruling as 'azl) . According to either ruling, there is no sin in using it and therefore, it is permissible to agree on it. Jabir said, "We practiced 'azl during the Prophet's lifetime; he was informed about it and did not forbid us [from practicing it]" [Muslim].
If it is permissible to enter into an agreement, then breaking it is considered a violation.

Consequently, if the wife deliberately became pregnant, then she has broken a permissible promise and this is a sin. Otherwise, she is not blameworthy.

The second part of the agreement is impermissible because it is unlawful to terminate a pregnancy except if:
1. A trustworthy Muslim physician determines that the pregnancy poses danger to the woman.
2. The abortion is before 120 days of pregnancy.
3. The abortion does not result in harm that is equivalent to or greater than that caused by the pregnancy.

In the absence of the above, abortion is unlawful and both spouses err by entering into a sinful agreement. It is impermissible for the inquirer to obey her husband and terminate the pregnancy since there is no obedience to any created being if it involves disobeying Allah. 'Ali narrated that the Prophet said, "Obedience is required in good deeds." The wife does not sin by not fulfilling this part of the agreement; rather, she is blameworthy if she does, as is her husband for commanding her to do so.
The ruling

If the wife deliberately became pregnant, then she has committed a sin by breaking her promise. Abu Huraira narrated a raised chain hadith in which the Messenger of Allahsaid, "The traits of a hypocrite are three: When he speaks, he lies; when he promises, he reneges; when he is entrusted, he betrays his trust" [Bukhari and Muslim].

The wife does not sin if she did not become pregnant deliberately. In the above scenario, the spouses agreed on something unlawful which is to abort a pregnancy when it occurs. It is not permissible for the husband to order his wife to do so as it is likewise impermissible for her to obey him in this [even] if he insists. The couple should know that a pregnancy is a blessing from Allah Who He the [child's] protector and guardian because He is the Lord of the worlds. Furthermore, this child may have the goodness, morals, religion and blessings that the husband's other children may lack. Allah Almighty says,If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good.[An-Nisaa`:19]

Each person must know his place and not fight the will of Allah because He is never overpowered. Our destiny is predetermined, so we must accept it; this is better for us both in this world and in the Hereafter.
Allah the Almighty knows best.

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