Abortion and the termination of pregnancy is the removal of a fetus from the womb of a woman. This can be performed either by using particular drugs or emptying the womb through the process of suction.
Islam regards human life as sacred. Allah Most High says:
“And verily we have honored the children of Adam” (Surah al-Isra, V.70).
It does not matter where the life exists. Whether the life is extra-uterine or intra-uterine, its location has no significance on its sanctity. This sanctity applies not only to human life but to the human body as well. Hence, according to Shari’ah, the physical body of a human after death is just as sacred as it was before death. The degree of sanctity of life is greater than that of the body. This is one of the reasons why it is unlawful (Haram) to consume the meat of a human, dead or alive.
The Shari’ah ruling on abortion:
Abortion can be divided into two stages:
a) Abortion after the soul (Ruh) enters the fetus
b) Abortion prior to the entry of the soul into the fetus
According to Shari’ah, the soul (Ruh) enters the fetus at 120 days (4 months) from conception.
Allah Almighty says:
“And verily we did create man from a quintessence (of clay). Then we placed him (as a drop of sperm) in a place of rest, firmly fixed. Then we made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood. Then of that clot, we made a (fetus) lump. Then we made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh. Then we developed out of it another creature (by breathing life into it). So blessed be Allah, the most marvelous creator” (Surah al-Mu’minun, 12/13/14).
The great Hanafi Faqeeh Ibn Abidin States in his Radd al-Muhtar:
“The soul enters the fetus at one hundred & twenty days (4 months), as established by the Hadith” (Radd al-Muhtar, 1/202)
The ruling on abortion in stage (a) i.e. after the entry of the soul into the fetus which is (as explained) 120 days, is that it is totally impermissible and tantamount to murder, as it results in the taking out of an innocent life. All the scholars have unanimously condemned such a ghastly act.
Imam Ibn Taymiyyah states in his Fatawa collection:
“Aborting a fetus has been declared unlawful (Haram) with the consensus of all the Muslim scholars. It is similar to burying an infant alive as referred to by Allah Almighty in the verse of the Qur’an: “And when the female infant, buried alive, will be asked as to what crime she was killed for” (Surah al-Takwir, 8 ) (Fatawa Ibn Taymiyyah, 4/217).
Ibn Abidin (Allah have Mercy on him) also states the prohibition of this gruesome act in his treatise ‘Radd al-Muhtar’:
“If a woman intends to abort her pregnancy, then the Fuqaha have said: If the period of the soul being blown into the fetus has elapsed, it will be impermissible” (Radd al-Muhtar, 5/276).
It is stated in Radd al-Muhtar:
“It is not permissible to abort the pregnancy before and after the entry of the soul into the fetus” (Radd al-Muhtar, 5/279).
However, in certain extreme circumstances, it would be permitted to abort the pregnancy, before the entry of the soul (120 days), such as: when the woman conceives after being raped, the mother’s life or health is in danger, or repeated pregnancies severely damages her health, etc…
Imam al-Haskafi writes in Durr al-Mukhtar:
“Aborting the pregnancy will be permissible due to a valid reason, provided the soul has not yet entered the fetus”.
In conclusion, it is haram (prohibited) to abort a fetus in both cases, whether it’s before and after the 120 days. However, abortion before 120 days is less sinful comparatively. Also, if a mother’s life is in danger then there are certain dispensations only if there is a valid reason.