Question: Is it offensive you use contraception for the first few years of one’s marriage or when studying?
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
Thank you for your important question.
If one is generally trying to avoid physical, emotional, or relational harm, then there is nothing wrong with using contraception. However, when contraception is just used as a mere convenience, then it is not in line with what Allah wants from us.
The Default Ruling
The default is that we are supposed to have as many children as we can without harming ourselves physically or emotionally and without putting unbearable stressors on ourselves.
All things being equal, contraception should not be used and Muslim families should try to have as many children as possible.
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Marry a loving and children-bearing woman, for indeed I will boast of your [numbers] to the Prophets on the Day of Resurrection.” [Ahmad and Ibn Hibban]
He also said, “Marry because I will boast of your [numbers] to the other nations. Do not follow the abstinence of monks.” [Musnad al-Ruyani and al-Bayhaqi]
Many of the Early Muslims had large numbers of children: Sayyidna Umar had nine children, Sayyidna Ali had thirty-one, and Sayyidna Anas had over eighty.
The Prophet also discouraged taking the means to avoid getting pregnant. He was asked about coitus interruptus and he said, “That is like secretly killing a baby.” [Muslim]
In light of the aforesaid, using contraception just to not get pregnant is by default offensive but not sinful. [Hashiyat al-Bujayrami ‘ala al-Iqna’]
Knowing One’s Limits
Some families can have ten children or more, and others can only have one. Some cannot have children at all. Just as children are from the provision (rizq) of Allah, the physical and emotional ability to care for them is also from the provision (rizq) of Allah. You should not try to do what you cannot do.
In the case where you feel that the relationship with your spouse cannot cope with another pregnancy or child or when you feel that you personally cannot cope with the physical and emotional weight of a baby, it is perfectly fine and wise to hold off and use contraception. This also applies at the beginning of a relationship when you need a year or so to get to know each other. Building a sound relationship is better than rushing to bring kids into a rocky marriage.
So too, if you are about to finish your studies, in the middle of a very demanding episode of your career, or you just feel that your body and mind need a breather, it is no longer offensive to use contraception. This is because you have Allah’s goals in mind, and you are just navigating them wisely. Resting, as they say, is part of the journey.
If however, you just don’t want to have (more) children because it would be an inconvenience or because you just like the freedoms that you currently enjoy, then contraception would be un-Islamic and offensive, albeit not sinful.
Please also see:
I pray this helps.
[Ustadh] Farid Dingle
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.