Islam and birth control

Birth control in Islam

People always said birth control is only allowed if the husband permits it, not in general (before marriage) and that Islam highly dislikes it. Is this true?

There is no need to make a big deal of a husband’s permission in such a matter. Whether you are a Muslim or non-Muslim wife, of course going on birth control should be a decision made after consultation with the husband and his agreement. If you do not consider your husband worth consulting in this matter, then there is a problem with your marriage.

As for Islam having a negative view of birth control, that is not true. As I discuss in this new blog post, the hadith in which the Prophet PBUH seems to express a negative view of birth control is not very firmly established. And even if we take it seriously, he mere says that there is no harm in not using birth control. He does not say that birth control is harmful.

Birth control in Islam: A study of the hadith on coitus interruptus

A hadith found in three places in Sahih al-Bukhari suggests that birth control is not recommended in Islam:

We asked (the Prophet PBUH) about it and he said, 'There is no harm if you do not do [coitus interruptus1], for if any soul (till the Day of Resurrection) is predestined to exist, it will exist."

Sahih al-Bukhari 4138

First, this hadith does not say that birth control is bad. It merely say that there is no harm in not using birth control.

This hadith, however, is not a very high-quality one due to its meager chain of narrators. Below is a diagram of all of the chains of the authentic versions of this hadith:

This hadith has only an 11.79% chance of authenticity, which is quite low. In my mathematical hadith verification methodology (which I discuss here), a hadith that falls between 10% and 20% is munkar (strange and unlikely to be true, but not clearly false and fabricated). A munkar hadith is not strong enough to act as a basis for establishing sunna (the tradition of the Prophet PBUH). For this reason, we cannot say with certainty that a negative view of birth control is part of Islam. In this case, the commonsense view should be used that birth control is a matter of personal choice.