Muslims and the Unborn

The Supreme Court of the United States intends to overturn Roe v. Wade, giving back the opportunity to legislate abortion to individual states. There’s no bigger story in the news this week.

This landmark possibility gives us opportunity to consider again some of the challenging questions on which this debate hinges: When does life begin? Whose rights come first, the mom’s or baby’s? And how do we love people who answer the questions differently from us, both those who love Jesus and those who don’t?

Since this is Muslim Connect, I’m also wondering how abortion is viewed in Islam.

Like we see with Christians, Muslims think differently about abortion and each group or school or jurist thinks their view is the right one. Muslims living all over wrestle with allegiance to their faith, the forces of modernization and shifting social mores.

The closest I can find to a general understanding of Muslim thought regarding abortion is this:

  1. Islam values life. 
  2. The Quran doesn’t speak about abortion, but condemns the practice of burying of female babies. 
  3. In a Hadith, Muhammad is recorded to have said, “Every one of you is collected in the womb of his mother for the first 40 days, and then he becomes a clot for another 40 days, and then a piece of flesh for another 40 days. Then Allah sends an angel to breathe the soul into his body.” This leads scholars to say that “ensoulment” happens 120 days after conception. While abortion before that is generally viewed as wrong, it’s much worse after. 

Given the enormity of this possible decision, we have a wonderful opportunity to talk about real stuff. Not just with our Christian sisters and brothers, but Muslims as well. Let’s keep our eyes (and hearts) open.

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