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You are here: Home > Myths&Misconceptions > Women in Islam > Abortion is Murder

Abortion is Murder

fetus

SUMMARY

God condemns abortion in the Quran. Killing of any child (born or unborn) is murder. We also examine the false belief held by some that abortion might be allowed for a certain time period.

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What is Abortion?

The National Institute of Health at Medline Plus defines abortion as: … a procedure, either surgical or medical, to end a pregnancy by removing the fetus and placenta from the uterus. Abortions are also performed through the last stage of pregnancy, defined by the Free Dictionary:  partial-birth abortion - A late-term abortion, especially one in which a viable fetus is partially delivered through the cervix before being extracted

All Killing is Condemned

Killing any person is condemned in the Quran, as God has made life sacred. Killing children is specifically addressed as they are the helpless victims in every society.  We will see in the following verses that there are no ifs, ands, or buts – the Quran clearly condemns the killing of children from the time of establishment in the womb and on:

[6:140]  Losers indeed are those who killed their children foolishly, due to their lack of knowledge, and prohibited what GOD has provided for them, and followed innovations attributed to GOD. They have gone astray; they are not guided.

     Murder, Suicide, and Illicit Gains Prohibited
[4:29]  O you who believe, do not consume each others' properties illicitly - only mutually acceptable transactions are permitted. You shall not kill yourselves. GOD is Merciful towards you.

[17:33]  You shall not kill any person - for GOD has made life sacred - except in the course of justice. If one is killed unjustly, then we give his heir authority to enforce justice. Thus, he shall not exceed the limits in avenging the murder; he will be helped.

Born or Unborn

     Abortion is Murder
[17:31 and 6:151]  You shall not kill your children (“Awlad”) due to fear of poverty. We provide for them, as well as for you. Killing them is a gross offense.

In the above verses (17:31 and 6:151) explicitly forbidding the killing of children, the Arabic word “Awlad” stems from the root “Walada” (to give birth) and points only to a relationship to the process of birth; therefore, referring to the youthfulness of the individual but not implying that “Walad” has to be born.  “Awlad” refers to both born and unborn children; therefore, you shall not kill “Awladakum” -your children in the womb or outside of it, with no distinction.  In the following Quran passage, God uses the word “Maoloods” to refer directly to born children:


[31:33]  O people, you shall reverence your Lord, and fear a day when a father cannot help his own child, nor can a child (“Maolood”) help his father…

God specifically avoided this description of born children (“Maolood”) when instructing not to kill your children in the Quran passages of 17:31 and 6:151.  Thus, you shall not kill your children (born or in the womb).

Abortion Advocates

Those in favor of abortion can find no support for their position in the Quran. The following details some of their positions and the crutches they rely upon.

The First Three Months of Pregnancy

The first months of pregnancy are so important that a woman’s relationship matters are no longer hers alone if she becomes pregnant, as is indicated in these Quran passages regarding divorce:

[2:226]  Those who intend to divorce their wives shall wait four months (cooling off); if they change their minds and reconcile, then GOD is Forgiver, Merciful.

[33:49]  O you who believe, if you married believing women, then divorced them before having intercourse with them, they do not owe you any waiting interim (before marrying another man). You shall compensate them equitably, and let them go amicably.

[65:4]  As for the women who have reached menopause, if you have any doubts, their interim shall be three months. As for those who do not menstruate, and discover that they are pregnant, their interim ends upon giving birth. Anyone who reverences GOD, He makes everything easy for him.

Women who get divorced after consummating the marriage have an interim of three months before getting married again. This is mainly in case of pregnancy, and under these circumstances the women would need to consider the baby’s needs first.  If the first three months of pregnancy were not important then God’s revelations in the Quran would have been different and the women would not have to wait the interim and instead could keep their life plans as they wish. This is further demonstration that in God’s eyes the first three months of early pregnancy are as relevant as other time in pregnancy.

Sura 96, “The Embryo”

The first chapter of the Quran revealed by God is The (hanging) Embryo. It demonstrates the significance of the formation of life of a human.  Modern science has proven that this hanging embryo stage starts about 6 days after the fertilization of the ovum (not after three months of pregnancy as some abortion advocates want others to believe).

There are another two verses, 46:15 and 2:233 which are being combined by some abortion advocates in order to claim that the last six months of pregnancy are the only important months in the life of the unborn child and therefore it should be permissible to kill the child in the first three months of pregnancy.

[46:15]  We enjoined the human being to honor his parents. His mother bore him arduously, gave birth to him arduously, and took intimate care of him for thirty months…

[2:233]  Divorced mothers shall nurse their infants two full years, if the father so wishes. The father shall provide the mother's food and clothing equitably. No one shall be burdened beyond his ability. No mother shall be harmed on account of her infant, nor shall the father be harmed because of his infant…

Verse 46:15 tells us that the time frame for pregnancy and nursing is 30 months. The verse does not define which of these 30 months the pregnancy is and which is the nursing time, so the time frame used is collective from the start of pregnancy through the time of nursing altogether. Verse 2:233 tells us that nursing the newborn can be extended as long as two years, but does not define nursing as an obligatory 24 months. Further confirmation of this non-binding time frame can be found in the verse 31:14:

[31:14]  We enjoined the human being to honor his parents. His mother bore him, and the load got heavier and heavier. It takes (“Fee”) two years (of intensive care) until weaning…

The Arabic word “fee” in the above verse means “up to”, and allows for flexibility in the mentioned time frame of two years.  The word (fee) in Arabic is used for place or time, if used for a place it will mean “in” and if used for time it will mean “up to” or “within”.

Some abortion advocates abuse God’s tolerant time frame for nursing mothers by injecting a non-existent rigidity to the time frames in verses 46:15 and 2:233 to come with the following deduction:  30 months ( average of pregnancy and nursing) - 24 months ( maximum of nursing) = 6 months.  They stipulate that these 6 months is pertaining to the last 6 months of the pregnancy which then means that God does not find the first 3 months of development important.   However, even if this false equation had some validity, God demonstrates in real life how the first three months are actually more important to the long-term health of the individual baby than the end stages since recent fetus’ have lived outside of the womb at 20 and 21 weeks, and other children born after 6 months of pregnancy have survived and grown to be mature adults.  We know then that these abortion advocates are using wrong logic combined with the above false equation to inject an ill-founded significance to their own opinions in such a serious matter.

Another Play on Words

Two other places abused by abortion advocates are the use of the Arabic words “Anshaa” and “Ma” in the Quran.

[23:14]  Then we developed the drop into a hanging (embryo), then developed the hanging (embryo) into a bite-size (fetus), then created the bite-size (fetus) into bones, then covered the bones with flesh. We thus produce (“Anshaa”) a new creature. Most blessed is GOD, the best Creator.

In the above verse “Anshaa” refers to the production of the physical being.  Some supporters of abortion assert that in the above verse, the word “Anshaa” is indicating the time that the soul is entering the body and therefore it is alright to abort the unoccupied body before the soul is placed in it.  To the contrary, God never uses the word “Anshaa” or it’s derivatives to describe anything in connection with the soul.   As a firm demonstration that the word “Anshaa” is specifically referring to a physical process which has nothing to do with spiritual aspects, God uses the word “Anshaa” in THREE other places in the same Sura.  “Anshaa” refers to the production, construction, or establishment of physical processes in verses 23:14, 23:19, 23:31, and 23:42.  As an even further assurance that God is not allowing for abortion through the misuse of this word, He uses the Arabic word (“Nafakha”) in other places for the joining of the physical body and the soul.  The word “Nafakha” is used in the verses 3:49, 5:110. 15:29, 21:91, 32:9, 39:72 and 66:12.

The above verses demonstrate that if God wanted to allow abortion up to a particular point of joining the soul with the body, He would have used a word to specifically indicate the placement of the soul.  And regardless, abortion has nothing to do with the physical being containing a soul since one could never kill a soul in the first place.
 
The second Arabic word in the Quran which is abused by abortion advocates is “Ma”.  An over analysis of the standard Arabic pronoun “Ma” (meaning “What” or “Which”) in some verses referring to the fetus lead some to abuse and twist the use of this word to support their pro-abortion stance. These abortion advocates think that since God uses the phrase “(what) is in the belly”, He is indicating that the unborn child is a non-person.  Besides the fact that the time at which God places the soul is irrelevant to killing the physical body since one can never slay a soul, this argument is quashed when considering that in the same verses God uses that exact pronoun “Ma” for the born child, without debasement.  Thus, “Ma” is referring to the child, both born and unborn -without discrimination, as we see in the following verses:

[2:228]  The divorced women shall wait three menstruations (before marrying another man). It is not lawful for them to conceal what (“Ma”) GOD creates in their wombs, if they believe in GOD and the Last Day…
(“Ma” is used here for the unborn child)

[3:35]  The wife of Amram said, "My Lord, I have dedicated (the baby) (“Ma”) in my belly to You, totally, so accept from me. You are Hearer, Omniscient."…
[3:36]  When she gave birth to her, she said, "My Lord, I have given birth to a girl" - GOD was fully aware of what (“Ma”) she bore - …
(“Ma” is used in verse 3:35 for the unborn child, and in the following verse -3:36 for the born child)

[22:2]  The day you witness it, even a nursing mother will discard her (Ma) infant, and a pregnant woman will abort her (“Ma”) fetus. You will see the people staggering, as if they are intoxicated, even though they are not intoxicated. This is because GOD's retribution is so awesome…
(“Ma” is used here for both the nursing infant as well as for the unborn fetus)

Since God uses the Arabic word “Ma” for both the born and unborn child, it is misinformation and an ignorant statement to say that God is using the word “Ma” to imply an insignificance of the unborn fetus.  The interpretation that this Arabic word “Ma” is telling us that the fetus is unimportant so we can do with it what we wish, including abortion, is obviously unfounded and a wrong interpretation.   

Other Quranic Verses Involving the Protection of All Children

[60:12]  O you prophet, when the believing women (who abandoned the disbelievers) to seek asylum with you pledge to you that they will not set up any idols besides GOD, nor steal, nor commit adultery, nor kill their children, nor fabricate any falsehood, nor disobey your righteous orders, you shall accept their pledge, and pray to GOD to forgive them. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.

 [16:58]  When one of them gets a baby girl, his face becomes darkened with overwhelming grief.
[16:59]  Ashamed, he hides from the people, because of the bad news given to him. He even ponders: should he keep the baby grudgingly, or bury her in the dust. Miserable indeed is their judgment.

[6:152]  You shall not touch the orphans' money except in the most righteous manner, until they reach maturity…

[6:137]  Thus were the idol worshipers duped by their idols, to the extent of killing their own children. In fact, their idols inflict great pain upon them, and confuse their religion for them. Had GOD willed, they would not have done it. You shall disregard them and their fabrications.

[81:8]  The girl who was buried alive is asked:
[81:9]  For what crime was she killed?
[81:10]  The records are made known.
(on the Day of Judgment)

What about Externuating Circumstances

Cases of rape have no place in the issue of abortion. Women who are victims of rape have enough time (as much as 6 days before there is a development of a hanging embryo) to use available medical treatments to avoid any possible pregnancy. If the rape victim became pregnant we do not find any support in the Quran for her to kill the child created in her womb.  And interestingly, we see through mental health studies that it is generally healthier for the woman to not kill the baby.  Another circumstance to consider is if the mother’s life is in danger – the first step of a good physician would not be to abort or kill the child, but rather while saving the mother to also try saving the child, the child does not always make it but this would be a different case than abortion.   In short, if the woman is in a difficult situation, God will give her a way out if she relies on God and abides by His recommendations.  We must remember that God could have prevented the pregnancy in the first place, and that He is the Provider.

Soul

It is notable that the medical profession does not ever consider the human being’s soul or the point the soul is placed in the body. 

Some Muslim’s who support abortion in the first three months refer to edicts from their religious leaders or fabricated Hadith (i.e. man-made rules, but not authorized by God) which say that the fetus in the first three months does not have a soul and therefore it is permissible to abort.  There are two major flaws to this argument.  First, they are forgetting that abortion is dealing with the physical body; you are destroying the physical body of the fetus not the soul. No one can kill a soul even if they tried. Whether the soul entered the fetus’ body upon conception or after three months of pregnancy is not relevant to the issue of abortion.

Sources other than the Quran

The second error with this approach is that, when examining God’s regulations, we would need to go straight to the legitimate source, God’s proven words in His Scripture Quran, to see what God’s recommendations are.  This means we would need to filter out what is not God’s direct words but is being attributed to Him falsely, which would be the religious leader’s opinions and Hadith that had been compiled some 300 years after the Prophet’s death.  This practice of using unauthorized commands from religious scholars and Hadith to supersede God’s words in the Quran is blasphemous and a defective approach.  The way to examine God’s standpoint on this issue would be to go directly to the source, God’s own words in the Quran.

In Conclusion

When taking a detailed look at all of the above Quran verses, we learn that (1) the Quran condemns the killing of born and unborn children, in other words, abortion is murder, (2) the arguments that assert approval in the Quran for abortion is made through distortion and abuse of the Quran’s verses and ultimately are not substantiated, and (3) anyone who still insists that God approves of abortion are following opinions while rejecting God’s clear instructions.

 

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