Can You Guide Us on Terminating the Birth of a Child Due to Fatal Abnormalities?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question

My wife is going to enter 6 months of pregnancy and a number of rare fatal heart abnormalities have been detected in our unborn son. We are going through extreme stress. Not only that we do not have families or friends here but also we do not have families to turn to in our own country. My wife already suffers from anxiety and depression and also suffers from a chronic painful women’s disease.

Science is getting more advanced each day and there are things that they detect that could not be detected before birth. Knowing that he would start a miserable, painful life if he lives at all, doesn’t it compel us to think that in these rare cases is it the right thing to do to terminate the pregnancy?

Also, we have been told by a few reliable and pious people that we have been under the effect of black magic.

We have three ways to go from here:

1. Terminate the pregnancy now
2. Do not proceed to surgeries and let our child die a natural death after he is born
3. Proceed to surgeries. Please advise us on what you think is the right thing to do in the light of the Quran and Hadith.

Answer

Thank you for writing in. I am sorry to hear about the difficult situation that you are facing alone. May Allah grant you steadfastness and deep faith.

Allah Most High reassures us in the Quran, “Surely, with every difficulty, there is a relief, surely, with every difficulty, there is a relief.” [Quran, 94:6-7], and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him said), “The greatest reward comes with the greatest trial. When Allah loves a people He tests them. Whoever accepts that wins His pleasure but whoever is discontent with that earns His wrath.” [Tirmidhi]

Beyond all the events, circumstances, and struggles you are facing at the moment, try to first remember that there is a deeper question underlying all of what is happening; What does Allah Most High want from me in this difficulty that he has destined for me?

Serious reflection on this question should lead you to conclude that Allah Most High has chosen you and your family to bear this difficulty for a reason. Through it, He wants you to turn to Him. Through the struggles, He wants you to raise your station and draw you closer to Him. Through it, He wants you to see that this life is just a fleeting matter, that all things in it change, pass away and decay, and that only the Hereafter and everything in it is perpetual and free from sorrows. He wants you to yearn for that because He wants to give that to you. The conditions? Patience and gratitude on your behalf.

This isn’t easy by any stretch, but try to remember this first when the difficulties overwhelm you, as it will steel your nerves and make firm your faith. “Do you think you will be admitted into Paradise without being tested like those before you? They were afflicted with suffering and adversity and were so [violently] shaken that [even] the Messenger and the believers with him cried out, ‘When will Allah’s help come?’ Indeed, Allah’s help is [always] near.” [Quran, 2:214]

Taking the Means

Accepting and being content with what has been destined for one is one aspect of faith, taking the means (al-akhdh bi al-asbab) is another part. As you have rightly done, you ask Allah for guidance, seek advice from the relevant and qualified people among doctors and scholars then make a decision based on the information obtained, the shariah, and your istikhara.

Ignore all the discussions on technological advances etc., as well as suggestions of black magic. You need to save your energy and time for dealing with what is in front of you right now, and being there for your wife.

In terms of finance, keep relying on Allah Most High and insha’Allah your wages will suffice.  Allah will make a way and make that way clearer.

Decision

In regards to abortion, the 120 days have obviously passed, so abortion is not permitted. I understand that your wife has health issues, however, it does not seem that these would permit abortion, as they do not seem life-threatening, nor directly related to the pregnancy or birth, though this is purely based on the information you have given.

If upright and qualified medical experts state that your wife’s incurable ‘women’s disease’ you mentioned means her life would be in danger were she to continue with the pregnancy, then some scholars permitted abortion in these cases. And Allah knows best. Please refer to this answer for more details:
When is Having an Abortion Permitted? 

As for your other choices, no one can decide for you which course to take. This must be a decision taken by you and your wife, considering your specific situation and capabilities. Continue to seek guidance from Allah, and discuss all the options openly with each other. Please refer to this answer in regards to the rulings related to medical treatment:
Extending Life Support When No Recovery is Expected

Even if the child has a slim chance of survival, the child’s suffering and your patience will never be unrewarded, and if the child passes away, then this child will be a shield from the Fire for you both and a reason for your entering Paradise, where you will be together in bliss.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “When a person’s child dies, Allah says to His angels, ‘You have taken the child of My slave.’ They say, ‘Yes.’ He says, ‘You have taken the apple of his eye.’ They say, ‘Yes.’ He says, ‘What did My slave say?’ They say, ‘He praised you and said “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un (Verily to Allah we belong and unto Him is our return).’ Allah says, ‘Build for My slave a house in Paradise and call it the house of praise.” [Tirmidhi]

Support

What is imperative is that you seek some form of emotional support wherever you are based, or although not ideal, long distance. It is sad to hear that you both have no one to turn to, as no one should feel this way. Perhaps find out if there is any counseling or Muslim chaplaincy at the hospital or local mosque that you can turn to, or check on the internet if there are any such services where you are.

Final Note

Know that Allah is with you and knows better than anyone what the parent and the child go through. Though we live to see children suffer, we should always remember that Allah is the Most Compassionate and more loving of His creation than a mother to her child, and never believe that we have more mercy in our hearts for others than Allah has for his servants. Our struggles are an outward reality we experience, but one day, we will realize the inward reality, and we will not wish things to be any different from how they are and we will know something of Allah’s Perfect Wisdom.

Lastly, what you feel now may all change when the baby is born. All your anxieties, which are understandable and normal, are based on a fear of what is going to come. However, when a baby is born, something magical happens in the heart. One look in the innocent eyes of the child that Allah has chosen for you, one touch of their hand wrapped around your finger, and one hold of the little life resting in your hands, may dissolve all your anxieties, fears, and sorrow in an instant. At that point, your choices may become clearer than ever. Though heartbreaking to know that your time together on earth may be so short and not without hardship, perhaps your heart will always carry regret if you never met at all.

Your brother,

[Shaykh] Jamir Meah
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.