Life is sacred. So sacred that one life is worth the whole of mankind. The Qur’aan is very clear in that respect: “if a person killed another person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land, it would be as if he killed all mankind. “ (Surah 5 Verse 32). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has stated: “Allah is not merciful towards anyone who does not show mercy to human beings.” (Bukhari). On another occasion, he has said: “Have pity for the denizens of the earth, the One who is in heaven will show mercy to you.” (Tirmizi). In fact, fifteen hundred years ago, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had established the rights of animals and would condemn any unjust dealing towards those dumb beings. The Prophet (PBUH) has affirmed that we shall be rewarded for any kindness shown to living beings, whether human or animal.
You can therefore easily discern how much Islam condemns any crime committed against the human beings or animals whether believers or unbelievers. In fact, unjust shedding of blood is a very serious action. So serious that divine law demands that such an act be compensated by the death penalty: “Kill not anyone whom Allah has forbidden except for a just cause (according to Islamic law).” (Surah 6 Verse 157). That is the reason why Islam does not tolerate abortion, since it is infanticide.
Among Allah’s creatures, man is considered the most valuable creature according to the Shariah. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has said that breaking a man’s bones after his death is tantamount to breaking them while it is still alive.
Hence, none is authorized to interfere with human life before or after death. According to jurists, abortion after a lapse of 120 days is considered as an interference with human life.
In fact, once the sperm has joined the ovum in the womb of the mother, it becomes a protected entity. Allah Ta’ala has decreed: “That they will not kill their (own) children” (Surah 60 Verse 12). In the commentary on that verse, Allamah Qurtubi has stated: “in other words, do not bury your children alive and do not abort the foetus.” Allamah Muhammad Ali al Saabooni, while commenting on that same verse, has declared that injunction also includes abortion of the foetus as is practiced by ignorant women. (Mukhtasar ibn Khatir).
From the time of fertilization till birth, the foetus can be classified in three stages with reference to the degree of protection afforded to it by the Shariah.
We shall proceed by descending order in the beginning with the higher degree where the foetus has crossed organic or vegetative life to reach animal or sensory life. In the light of a hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Masood (RA), the ulemas have unanimous stated that animal or sensory life enters the foetus as from 120 days. At that stage, the foetus is already a human being and therefore enjoys all the rights that accrue to a human being. Which means that no one is authorized to give preference to the mother at the expense of the living foetus.
Therefore, causing an abortion after 120 days in tantamount to an infanticide. And, under no circumstances, can this be allowed, even in the extremely trying circumstance where the life of the mother is at stake. However, if the child is already dead in the womb, then, of course, anything can be tried to save one life without prejudice to another life.
Prior to 120 days, there are two stages:-
(1) Between 80 and 120 days, and
(2) Before 80 days.
As from 80 days, the embryo, human egg, has already formed itself into a foetus with clearly distinguishable organs, proceeding towards complete formations in 120 days. The Shariah contains many regulations in connection with that stage of formation of the organs (whether partly or totally) even before the 120 days.
For example, the nifaas period. A miscarriage which reveals organs that are formed, even partly, also puts an end to the nifaas period or normal menses.
Therefore, even at that stage, from 80 to 120 days, the Ulemas insist that no abortion is allowed, although life has not yet been breathed into the foetus by the Creator, but, in view of the fact that its organs are already formed, the foetus possesses the full potential of a human being.
From the viewpoint of the Shariah, abortion, even before the 80-day period, is a serious matter, but it is even more serious after 80 days.
However, since the Shariah takes factors of human life and human well-being into consideration, there are exceptional circumstances where abortion is tolerable. For example, if the life of the mother is in real danger from the medical point of view, are even in other extreme cases, then those difficulties can be considered for the period prior to 120 days. Otherwise, an outrage towards the foetus, without a valid reason, is definitely out of the question. It is a great sin and it is a more serious one during the 80 to 120 day-period than the period preceding it. Since the verses that prohibited murder and infanticide also include abortion, then any practice of abortion, without a valid reason, even before the 120-day period, will be considered as child-killing. Likewise, the abortion of a foetus of more than 120 days which is provided with organs and a soul is an even greater sin. Slightly less serious is the abortion of a foetus of less than 120 days in the exceptional circumstances explained already.
Since life is sacred, abortion is a cruelty committed against human life. Its legalization would mean legalizing crime against mankind. The fact remains that very often it is an unwanted pregnancy that leads to abortion. Its legalization in many countries has unfortunately made of human life a pure banality. The legalization of abortion would be harmful to the Mauritian society. Abortion is not tolerated in Islam, as it is inhuman and represents cruelty to human life. The Ulemas are unanimous to declare that abortion is prohibited except in extreme medical urgency. Having said that, abortion should not be legalized.