What does Islam teach about abortion (killing an unwanted fetus)?
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Abortion is unlawful in every stage of pregnancy, from conception until birth. However, scholars make an exception in the case that the developing pregnancy would threaten the woman’s life.
وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْئًا كَبِيرًا
Do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Verily, their killing is a great sin.
Surah Al-Isra 17:31
The fetus is a human being who has the right to be protected from violence, and this right takes precedence over an adult’s desire to be free of an unwanted baby. An aborted fetus is given a funeral prayer in Islam the same as any other human being.
Al-Mughirah ibn Shu’bah reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him:
وَالسِّقْطُ يُصَلَّى عَلَيْهِ وَيُدْعَى لِوَالِدَيْهِ بِالْمَغْفِرَةِ وَالرَّحْمَةِ
The funeral prayer should be offered over the miscarried fetus, and supplications for forgiveness and mercy should be made for the parents.
Source: Sunan Abu Dawud 3180, Grade: Sahih
Abortion resembles the pre-Islamic practice of the Arabs in which they would bury their female children alive as soon as they were born. Islam has strictly forbidden this practice.
وَإِذَا الْمَوْءُودَةُ سُئِلَتْ بِأَيِّ ذَنبٍ قُتِلَتْ
When the infant girl buried alive is asked for what sin she was killed?
Surah At-Takweer 81:8-9
Ibn Taymiyyah said:
إسْقَاطُ الْحَمْلِ حَرَامٌ بِإِجْمَاعِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَهُوَ مِنْ الْوَأْدِ
Aborting a fetus is unlawful according to the consensus of the Muslims, as it is like the infant who is buried alive.
Source: Majmu’ Al-Fatawa
Abortion is often used by people to support a lifestyle of irresponsible sexual intercourse. They would like to perform abortions without legal restrictions so they can have recreational sex without consequences. Such a lifestyle can never be justified in Islam.
وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا الزِّنَا ۖ إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَاحِشَةً وَسَاءَ سَبِيلًا
Do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Verily, it is immoral and it is an evil way.
Surah Al-Isra 17:32
If the woman’s life might be threatened by the developing pregnancy, then some scholars say it is permissible to abort the fetus preferably before the first forty or up to 120 days. This concession is based upon the principle of choosing the lesser of two evils, and the time period is based upon the narration of the Prophet which states that the soul is breathed into fetus during the first forty to 120 days.
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
نَّ أَحَدَكُمْ يُجْمَعُ خَلْقُهُ فِي بَطْنِ أُمِّهِ أَرْبَعِينَ يَوْمًا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ فِي ذَلِكَ عَلَقَةً مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ ثُمَّ يَكُونُ فِي ذَلِكَ مُضْغَةً مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ ثُمَّ يُرْسَلُ الْمَلَكُ فَيَنْفُخُ فِيهِ الرُّوحَ
Verily, the creation of each one of you is brought together in his mother’s womb for forty days in the form of seed, then he is a clot of blood for another period, then a morsel of flesh for another period, then there is sent to him the angel who blows the breath of life into him…
Source: Sahih Muslim 2643, Grade: Sahih
Therefore, it is permissible to perform an abortion if there is a life-threatening medical reason for doing so, but it is never permissible if the intention is fear of poverty or to support an irresponsible lifestyle.
Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.