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Is It Permissible to Use Modern IVF Treatments to Pick the Gender of My Baby?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: I have been blessed with 3 beautiful little girls, alhamdulilah. I wanted to know if it is permissible to use modern IVF treatments to pick the gender of the next baby if we attempt to have one? So, can we use modern science to have a boy, if we already have 3 girls?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

This would be permissible according to the resolution passed by the Majma al-Fiqh al-Islami in 2007. The view is also supported by leading scholars, such as Mustafa Zarqa, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and Abd Allah ibn Bayya, among others. This is so long as (a) the procedure is safe and (b) it follows the general shariah guidelines of medical treatment.

Those scholars who prohibited such a practice, however, did so due to a number of legitimate concerns and reasons. One factor, for example, was the widespread gender bias in certain communities and peoples. This is clearly contrary to Islamic guidelines and people who have such gender biases should be firmly discouraged from choosing the gender of future children. Indeed, the Quran refers to the disappointment that people felt at having daughters as an evil and the least that this indicates is blameworthiness of such an attitude.

Additionally, one must also stress an element of content with one’s decree in not choosing the gender of a future child. As the Qur’an states, “To God belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth; He creates what He wills. He gives to whom He wills female [children], and He gives to whom He wills males.” (49:50) While choosing the gender of a child is not necessarily being discontent with divine decree, it is superior to simply leave such matters in the hands of God.

Wassalam,
[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.

How Do I Deal With Nosy Sisters Who Ask Personal Questions?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: There are certain sisters in my community who ask very personal questions and want to know everything about other people’s business. How do I approach these sisters? Is it bad to avoid other Muslims if they have bad character?

Also, how long should one wait before announcing they are pregnant? I’m concerned about evil eye from certain people in the community.

Answer: Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Good character

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “The believer who mixes with people and bears their annoyance with patience will have a greater reward than the believer who does not mix with people and does not put up with their annoyance.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

The true test of character lies in interacting with people. The more you avoid something, the harder it will be for you. Allah is telling you something through the tests you dislike. Do you struggle with drawing boundaries? Do you lack the skill of assertiveness? These skills can be learned through practice, trial and error, at workshops or in a counselor’s office. Use your discomfort as an opportunity for personal growth.

A general rule is to respond calmly, and use “I”. For example, when asked something inappropriate, try responding with, “I don’t feel comfortable answering that. Let’s talk about something else.” This may be very difficult to do at first, but over time, insha Allah, it will get easier.

Privacy

Some people show concern by asking questions that seem too personal. This can feel very invasive, especially when you are not used to this. Most of time, this inquisitiveness stems from sincere concern. However, their well-meaning questions can be stressful when they ask about topics that are sensitive to us, e.g. family issues, our health etc. I encourage you to practice mindful breathing techniques, and to make dua for ease.

Balance privacy with politeness, and have a good opinion of others.

Pregnancy announcement

At the very minimum, I would recommend waiting until the end of the first trimester. It would be best to avoid posting any photographs of ultrasounds, especially on social media. Respecting the privacy of the unborn fetus is one important factor, and protecting the ‘awrah (nakedness) of the pregnant woman is another.

Please see:

Spiritual Struggle: The Trial Of Dealing With People
Making 70 Excuses for Others in Islam – A Key Duty of Brotherhood

Wassalam,
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi‘i fiqh, Arabic, Sirah, Aqidah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajwid. She continues to study with her Teachers through Qibla Academy and SeekersHub Global. She also graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales.

Is Asking for Twins Being Ungrateful?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: As salam alaykum,

I really want to fall pregnant to twins. There is medication to help increase eggs for a female to increase the chances of falling pregnant to twins. I want to find out if it is permissible to ask for such a thing from Allah. Is it selfish? Am I playing with fate?

Answer:Assalamu ‘alaykum,

I pray that you are well.

It is permissible, and recommended, to ask Allah for any good thing in this life and the next. The Qur’an speaks highly of those who pray, ‘Our Lord, give us good in this world and in the Hereafter, and protect us from the torment of the Fire’ [Qur’an; 2.201].
Supplicating to God for the good things of this world, such as children, is not considered selfish, or playing with fate. Believers are recommended in the Qur’an to pray, ‘Our Lord, give us joy in our spouses and offspring’ [Qur’an; 25.74].

Moreover, one of our role models, the Prophet Zakariyya – may God shower him with peace – is quoted in the Qur’an as praying for offspring, saying, ‘My Lord, do not leave me childless, though You are the best of heirs’ [Qur’an; 21.89].

Using such pills, if considered medically safe, is permissible.

Please see these related resources:

Infertility: Why does Allah Not Bless Some With Children?

Struggling to Have Children: Ten Key Etiquettes of Du’a

May Allah facilitate for you all good.

Wassalam,
Shuaib Ally

Photo: Jeremy Miles

The Blessing of a Muslim Doula

“Doula” is an ancient Greek word meaning “a woman who serves”.

Three days of conversing with women of different faiths and nationalities, left me, a mom of seven, inspired and ready to help women in their pregnancy and birthing experience as a Muslim doula. And it all started with one blessed experience.
Over the summer, I enjoyed a three day intensive training with Birth Arts International. Originally I went to the classes to help the instructor, with no intention of becoming a student, but Allah had other plans! After beginning my doula training, I started my own doula services called Higher Purpose Doula Services, based in Georgia. I called it “Higher Purpose” because I believe that everything we do should have the higher purpose in mind—to get closer to the Creator.

 

Serve Allah by serving His creation

As a Muslim woman, training to become a doula meant something very special to me.
More than just giving women information and showing them different breathing techniques, it was one of the ways that I could serve others. Service (khidma) is part of our beautiful religion. Imam Tahir Anwar once said, “Serve Allah by serving His creation.”
In the Quran, Allah reminds us of our purpose in life: “I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve Me.” (Quran 51:56)
I am not the only doula-in-training, who has found a connection between my work and my faith.  Sister Alexandria, a Maryland-based doula from Heaven Beneath Your Feet Doula Services speaks about her experience.
“It’s deeply spiritually rooted for me,” she says. “I wanted to do something that would be a beautiful and humbling reminder and that I would enjoy. As I researched what a doula is and what we do, I felt in my heart a little light go on that felt just right. I want to be able to help women utilize their pregnancy, birth and overall family life to get them closer to Allah.”
“For me Islam is an empowerment to women,” says Umm Suhaib, a doula-in-training based in Canada, “and that is exactly what a doula tries to do. Allah  Most High has made the journey into motherhood a sacred and powerful one and a doula is there to hold space for a woman on this journey.”
Sister Aishia Muhammad of Al Muslima and Motherhood Birth Services, who serves in Philadelphia and abroad, said, “Becoming a doula wasn’t a decision I made. Rather, it was a position I found myself fulfilling 17 years ago. I saw a large number of my sisters craving for assistance with love, care and spirituality while giving birth, particularly in hospital settings.
“(For example), while some laboring sisters remember their Lord (dhikr), chanting His name and making supplications (dua) other need to be reminded to do so, and some maybe too winded to speak. Your Muslim Doula will understand your dhikr and duas, can help you recite them and even encourage it further. This is the huge difference between a Muslim and a non-Muslim doula. Birth is a spiritual event—a Muslim woman cannot give birth without the acknowledgement of that fact. ”

What would a Muslim doula do for me?

A doula is a blessing. Not only does she provide emotional support, but she also can provide physical and educational support to an expectant mother.
According to Birth Arts, a doula provides:

  • up-to-date, evidence-based information to the parents
  • information on birth options
  • uninterrupted labor support during delivery
  • emotional, physical and personal support
  • help to the mother to attain and maintain proper nutrition
  • a presence in the environment that helps the mother feel secure and confident

During the birth, a doula’s presence helps in many ways.

doula

Credits: Sarah Hopkins

Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth

  • tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
  • reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience
  • reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans
  • reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals

In addition, research shows parents who receive support can:

  • Feel more secure and cared for
  • Are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics
  • Have greater success with breastfeeding
  • Have greater self-confidence
  • Have less postpartum depression
  • Have lower incidence of abuse

(Source: www.dona.org)

For a mother in her most powerful and vulnerable state

“A doula is a professional who holds space for a mother in her most powerful and vulnerable state,” says Umm Suhaib.  “She teaches the mother about informed consent, and works towards building a birth plan that puts the mother in charge of her body as much as possible. She helps the husband to build a toolbox for supporting his wife physically and emotionally, to keep the family feeling safe and loved before, during, and after the process of childbirth. She provides prenatal education, natural coping and pain relief, breastfeeding and bottle feeding support.”
“The top benefit of having a doula is having constant and consistent support for you during this sacred, beautiful and sometimes stressful time,” adds Sister Alexandria. “Through all the ups and downs that might come up with your family, your doctor trips, and life in general, the doula remains a consistent and constant source of support for you.”
The doula’s role is to help women have a safe, memorable, and empowering birthing experience, and that is truly invaluable.

“We need more Muslim doulas…”

doula

Credits: Nic Taylor

Sister Alexandria feels that it’s very important to have more Muslim doulas in the community.
“As a Muslim, it’s absolutely wonderful to have a Muslim to accompany you and your family during this sacred time. It goes back to the various sunnah that go with the whole process that might not be established or properly understood in someone who isn’t Muslim. Regarding getting the dad involved, as Muslims, we understand and are used to the boundaries and thus are perhaps more capable of facilitating dad being hands-on while respecting his space, etc.”
Sister Aishia shares similar sentiments. “Indeed we need more Muslim doulas. Many Muslim woman face ridicule, criticism and harassment birthing in non-Muslim environments. But as sisters in deen (faith) we share a common duty to help and protect one another in those situations.”

My Doula Diary

Doula training has taught me more on how to be supportive and helpful. I’m thankful I can be of service to help women have the experience they desire. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf puts it beautifully when he says, “Real pleasure is in the service of others, and that’s why the happiest of all people, in our belief, is the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ .”
He also says, “No one served people more than the Prophet ﷺ. His life from the beginning to the end was a life of service.” SubhanAllah, how befitting is it to take part in a service that literally means “a woman who serves” or also said to mean a “woman’s servant!”

A calling I did not hear, until He made it known to me

Training to become a doula, became another way for me to perform service (khidma). It is a calling I did not hear, until He made it known to me. As I continue my training, I take clients, and I pray that not only am I helping them, but also giving them a better representation of Islam than what the media is showing.
It is a pleasure to help women in their pregnancy journey. As a mom, I also feel that Allah has blessed me to be able to share my experience with other women, share some of the tips and tools I have used and learned along the way. One of the reasons we go through things in life is so that we can be able to help others. Entering the world of birth work gave life to something inside me that I had not previously recognized.
There have been many mothers in the Muslim community who could have used that support when they were pregnant. They may have needed more information or that gentle voice that tells them “You can do this,” or just be in that room so that mom doesn’t feel alone.
That’s what a doula is here for.
Ameera Rahim

Resources for seekers

Raising Muslim Children In An Age Of Disbelief

Shaykh Walead Mosaad is father to two exceptional young men, MashaAllah. How did he and his wife get it so right? In this brief interview, SeekersHub blogger Aashif Sacha gets Shaykh Walead talking about why he made the choice to commit years of his life to learning the Islamic sciences (hint: for his kids), who his role models are and what tips he has for those fearful of raising children in an age of widespread disbelief.

Finally, if you are worried that you have left it too late to begin studying your religion, Shaykh Walead has some very reassuring words for you.

It’s never too late to start a life of learning. Take a SeekersHub course today. There are courses on dozens of interesting topics, including Islamic Parenting. It’s so easy to sign up and you can learn from anywhere in the world.

Have you signed up to the SeekersHub Compass mailing list? Every week, exclusive content is distributed only to subscribers – including the recordings from our monthly seminars. Sign up before you miss out.

Infertility: Widespread but Largely Unaddressed by Muslim Communities

An estimated 250,000 Muslims women in countries like the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia suffer from infertility. Research shows it can be extremely stressful and can lead to depression, which in turn worsen the chances of becoming pregnant.

“Infertile? Just relax, and it will happen”

Studies have been done into the effects of infertility amongst Christian and Jewish communities but for the first time, a major study will be conducted amongst Muslims. Mona Elgohail is a Clinical Psychology PhD student and researcher at Drexel University. She is conducting a research study using an online survey on the impact of faith on the mental health and coping of Muslim women experiencing infertility.

Infertility: Why does Allah Not Bless Some With Children?

As part of the SeekersHub Ramadan series, Supplications from the Qur’an, Shaykh Ahmed Sa’ad al-Azhari addressed a sensitive and sometimes painful topic:

Infertility

Why does Allah bless some of us with children, and others not? Is it better to be a happy, childless couple than to be an unhappy pair of parents to a child, who has been sent to test us? When praying for Allah to grant us children, what should we pray for – just any child or one that is a “trust bearer”?

This is a beautiful, concise explanation – just ten minutes, that is sure to move you and humble you.

Listen to it on our podcast or watch it here:

 

Resources on infertility and parenting:

The Powerful Dua of a Parent
Maryam: Blessed Mother & Child
Raising a Muslim with Manners
Prophetic Advice For Raising Righteous Children
Raising Children with Deen and Dunya
Making Ramadan a Time for Young Hearts to Grow
Ibn Khaldun on the instruction of children and its different methods
Islamic Parenting: Ten Keys to Raising Righteous Children
The Prophet Muhammad’s Love, Concern, & Kindness for Children
On Parents Showing Righteousness to Children
Habib ‘Umar bin Hafiz’s advice on duas to read during pregnancy and labour and for infertility

Praying for a Trust Bearer: On Child-Bearing, Surat al-Anbiyā’ (verse 89), Duas from the Qur’an Explained

You’re listening to a series of lessons on important duas found in the Qur’an, as explained by Shaykh Ahmed Sa’ad Al Azhari – a distinguished master of the Qur’an and scholar in residence at Seekershub Toronto during Ramadan 2015.

Shaykh Ahmed addresses a sensitive and sometimes painful topic: why does Allah bless some of us with children, and others not? Is it better to be a happy, childless couple than to be an unhappy pair of parents to a child, who has been sent to test us? When praying for Allah to grant us children, what should we pray for – just any child or one that is a “trust bearer”?

This is a beautiful, concise explanation – just ten minutes, that is sure to move you and humble you.

All SeekersHub programming during this blessed month is freely available at the Ramadan Hub. Your financial support is crucial to our #SpreadLight campaign, which seeks to provide truly excellent Islamic learning to at least 1,000,000 seekers of knowledge in the coming year! This will serve as an ongoing charity (sadaqa jariyah) so please donate today.

Fasting Ramadan: Pregnancy, Breastfeeding & You

beautiful-muslim-mother-and-daughterThis is series of articles surrounding the intricacies of fasting whilst pregnant and breastfeeding, both from a scientific point of view, looking at studies that have been published over recent years on the subject, and also from a fiqh point of view.
We pray the articles are of benefit.
This is a project by Umm-Hasan bint Salim & Umm-Eesa bint Sayeed.
The full website and related articles can be found here.

Preface

Ameer ul-Mu’mineen, Abu Hafs `Umar ibn al-Khattaab (r.a), said:

I heard the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) say: “Actions are but by intentions and every man shall have only that which he intended…”

The intent of this site is two-fold: to clarify common misconceptions on the status of fasting for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and to encourage one another in good.
What we aim to present here inshaAllah is an earnest effort to collate all the available knowledge and information that we have with regards to fasting in pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding.
We have shared an overview of the various standpoints in fiqh that we had access to and then turn to scientific literature to assess any potential risk, precautionary measures and advice.
Throughout our collection we bear in mind the hadith of Jabir (r.a) warning us that we need to have mercy and exercise caution whenever this is applicable:
Jabir (r.a) said, “We were on a journey and one of us got injured. Later, he had a wet dream. He asked his companions, ‘Can I perform tayammum?’ They said, ‘No, not if you have water.’ He performed ghusl and died. When they came to the Messenger of Allah, they informed him of what had transpired. He said, ‘They killed him, Allah will kill them. Do you not ask if you do not know? The rescue of the ignorant person is the question. He could have performed tayammum and dropped water on his wound or wrapped it with something and wipe over the wrapping, and wash the rest of his body.” (Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, and others)
Our intention is not to push those already in genuine hardship into fasting; rather, the following pages are an encouragement for healthy sisters and an attempt at raising awareness surrounding the Islamic and scientific standpoints on fasting. In essence, this is that it is our duty to fast, it is safe to do so and that the minimum requirement upon us is to TRY.
We hope to fulfil the obligation presented to us by the Prophet s.a.w. upon each other: “None of you will truly believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.” May each and every one of us reap the barakah and unimaginable rewards of the blessed month of Ramadaan.
May Allah s.w.t purify our intentions and accept this work from us and make it a means of salvation for all who contributed to it, ameen.
Umm-Hasan bint Salim & Umm-Eesa bint Sayeed
Sha’baan 1434/ July 2013

Etiquette and Supplications Related to Pregnancy: A Reader

“My Lord! Grant me from You upright offspring, for You hear all prayers”[Qur’an, 3.38]

Before Pregnancy

The Virtues of Having Children

Struggling to Have Children: Ten Key Etiquettes of Du’a

Invocations To Bear Children

Supplications for Having Children and For Dealing With Pain

How Does One Perform The Prayer Of Need (salat al-haja)?

What’s the Point in Supplicating?

Dealing With a Husband Who Does Not Want to Have Children

During Pregnancy

How To Avoid a Premature Child?

Pregnant Women & Fasting

Purification & Prayer During Labor

After Pregnancy

When to Resume Prayers After Having a Child

What Acts Are Recommended After Giving Birth to a Child?

Is it Permissible to Name Children with Names of Angels?

Rights of Children in Detail

Losing a Child

The Loss of a Child: Seeking & Turning to Allah in Difficult Times

Fiqh of Miscarried Fetus

Suffering and Divine Wisdom