In general Islam is opposed to abortion. The foetus is considered to be a human being and therefore abortion is a crime. It is allowed, however, if a doctor is convinced that continuation of the pregnancy will cause the mother’s death. Some Muslims believe that for the first four months of pregnancy the mother’s rights are greater than those of the child. After this time their rights are equal.

In Arabia, before Muhammad (pbuh), unwanted female baby were often buried alive. The teaching of the Qur’an in respect of this practice is now often applied to the issue of abortion:

Kill not your children for fear of want: We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you. Verily the killing of them is a great sin (Surah 17:31).

… the child’s innocence is stressed:

When the female (infant) buried alive, is questioned – For what crime she was killed? (Surah 81:8-9).

There are different beliefs amongst Muslim about when a foetus becomes a person. Muslims believe that the soul is breathed in by the first 42 days of pregnancy. What has led them to this opinion is the hard fact of embryology, that all stages – seed, clot of blood and morsel of flesh occur in the first 40 days of life.

Before 120 days from conception, the foetus lacks a human soul. Only at the end of 120 days is the foetus ensouled. To consider in the same light abortions that are performed before the 120-day period and after, as the Anti-Abortion lobby does, is therefore both ridiculous and un-Islamic. Muslim jurists prohibit, absolutely, any abortion taking place after ensoulment when the soul enters the body, but many of them permit it before 120 days under certain conditions, for example the poor health of the mother, in the case of rape, etc.

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