Almighty Allah prohibited killing the soul and aborting children for fear of poverty and need, it is one of the major sins that cause the wrath of the Lord. Almighty Allah says (what can be translated as): “And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.” (Al-Isra’: 31) The scholars differ regarding the ruling on aborting the fetus before the soul has been breathed into it; i.e. in the fourth month of pregnancy, some of them said it is permissible to have an abortion for a legitimate reason like when the pregnancy is a threat to the mother’s life. This was mentioned by the Hanafi scholars, while the Shafaiah and majority of scholars forbade it. As for abortion after ensoulment, the scholars and fuqaha’ agreed unanimously that it is totally forbidden and regarded a major sin.
When to Consider Abortion Permissible?
The differences among the fuqaha’ have to do with abortion in the period before the soul is breathed into the fetus. Some of them say that the fetus is formed in his mother’s womb after 120 days, then the soul is breathed into it. This opinion is based on the hadith of the Prophet, Peace Be upon Him, when He said: “The creation of you (humans) is gathered in the form of semen in the womb of your mother for forty days, then it becomes a clinging thing in similar (period), then it becomes a lump of flesh like that, then Allah sends an angel who breathes the life into it; and (the angel) is commanded to record four things about it: Its provision, its term of life (in this world), its conduct; and whether it will be happy or miserable…” Some scholars consider that the creation of the fetus is complete when it is forty days old, then the soul is breathed into it, and it is not permissible to abort the fetus after four months of pregnancy, even if the doctors confirm that he will be born deformed, unless the specialized doctors find that the life of the mother is in danger, only then we can sacrifice the branch to keep the origin by the will of the Almighty.
Based on the above mentioned and according to Muslim scholars, abortion after the stage of ensoulment (after the soul enters into the fetus) is prohibited completely except where it is imperative to save the mother’s life. After ensoulment, however, abortion is prohibited absolutely and the scholars agreed on this matter unanimously.
Evidence of Prohibition from the Qur’an
There are several verses in the Qur’an which clarify that abortion in Islam is prohibited, such as:
“And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.” (Al-Isra’: 31)
“…And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason.” (Al-An’am: 151)
“Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.” (Al-Ma’idah: 32)
Evidence of Prohibition from the Sunnah
There are several hadiths reported from the Prophet, Peace Be upon Him, which clarify that abortion is prohibited in Islam, such as:
Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘as (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Prophet (Peace Be upon Him) said, “(Of the) major sins are: to ascribe partners to Allah, disobey parents, murder someone, and to take a false oath (intentionally)”. [Al- Bukhari].
Abu ‘Isa Al-Mughirah bin Shu’bah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (Peace Be upon Him) said, “Allah has forbidden you: disobedience to your mothers, to withhold (what you should give), or demand (what you do not deserve), and to bury your daughters alive. And Allah dislikes idle talk, to ask too many questions (for things which will be of no benefit to one), and to waste your wealth”. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
The Prophet, Peace Be upon Him, counted abortion as one of the major sins when He said: “That you kill your child fearing that he will share food with you.”
It is reported from Ikramah from ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them) that the Prophet (Peace Be upon Him) said: “The woman who kills her child shall come on the Day of Judgment with her child hanging to her breasts, stained with his blood, and he shall say: O Lord, this is my mother, and she killed me.”