Opinion, October 2003, www.aljazeerah.info
Is Abortion Allowed in Special Cases?
Arab News, 10/10/03
Q. When a young woman got married, it was soon proven, after medical examination that her husband was impotent. Her parents immediately started procedures to get her divorced and she was granted nullification of the marriage. However, the man managed somehow to inject her with semen and she became pregnant. Is it permissible for her to resort to abortion? If the child is not aborted, it will be a burden for everyone. Please comment.
(Name and address withheld)
A. No, abortion is not permissible. It is indeed forbidden. How could it be otherwise when the pregnancy occurred within a legitimate marriage? It is true, as you say, that there was a clear case of deception on the part of the husband, but that does not mean that the marriage, which was done on the basis of trust and good intention, was invalid. It was certainly valid. Hence, the pregnancy is a legitimate one. To abort is to end a legitimate pregnancy without any risk to the health of the mother. This is forbidden in Islam. Only when the pregnancy constitutes a clear risk threatening the life of the mother, or the child, or causing her very serious health damage, abortion may be acceptable.
How the pregnancy took place should not be a consideration. If the man did it in anyway, and he does not dispute it, then he is the father and the child, when born, should be called after him. He might have deceived his wife or her family, but we are concerned here with the rights of the foetus. It should be given every chance to live and thrive. It may be that the man wanted to get the young woman entangled and make the nullification of the marriage much more difficult. That cannot be condoned. But it does not affect the rights of the foetus, or the child when born.
The reader says that if the pregnancy is allowed to reach full term and a child is born, that child will be a burden to everyone. How presumptuous. That child could equally be a source of happiness to everyone around. If the child is brought up well, it could grow up into a very good man or woman who will look after the mother when she needs looking after.
The proper thing to do is for everyone involved to reach an amicable agreement on future responsibilities toward the child and its upbringing. Islam lays down clear principles which, if adhered to, ensure that everyone get what is due to them.
Facing Fire in Prayer
Q. On one occasion, there was a power cut in the mosque just before a congregational prayer. Someone placed a candle in front, but the Imam, who was not from our village, refused to start the prayer until the candle was removed. He explained that it was not permissible, but he failed to provide evidence. Could you please explain whether he was right.
A. The Imam was right in removing the candle, although the prayer would not have been invalid if the candle remained in front of you. The ruling is that facing a fire, of any sort, in prayer is reprehensible, or makrooh. This is due to the fact that some groups of idolaters used to worship fire and always prayed facing it. Therefore, it is reprehensible to place a fire in front of us when we pray, so as to leave no chance of apparent similarity between our prayer and what idolaters did.
This applies not only to fire, but to any aspect of idolatrous worship. It is also reprehensible to offer any prayer at the point of sunrise, sunset and when the sun is at the highest point in the sky. This is due to the fact that some idolater groups worshipped the sun, and prayed at these points in time. Islam is keen that our prayer should not resemble any idolatrous practice.
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