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On abortion, Muslims say Islam is ‘on the side of mercy’

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Actually, it’s right about where you’d expect a religion whose holy book says three times to “kill them wherever you find them” (Qur’an 2:191, 4:89, cf. 9:5) to be.

“On abortion, Muslim Americans say Islamic history is ‘on the side of mercy,’” by Alejandra Molina, Religion News Service, June 24, 2022 (thanks to David):

(RNS) — To Eman Abdelhadi, getting an abortion was the most sensible thing to do. She was six weeks pregnant and a graduate student who wasn’t financially ready to have a child. She felt no shame or guilt going through with it.

“I had no qualms about it. I grew up in an environment and a religious tradition that sees my life as the most important thing,” said Abdelhadi, a professor at the University of Chicago who was raised in a Muslim household. “It felt very clear to me. There was never anything like, ‘You did something unethical.’”

Abdelhadi, whose mother was a gynecologist in Egypt, grew up with the idea that abortion was a “nonsensical thing to legislate” and that legalizing it was necessary to prevent people from seeking other, potentially dangerous means of terminating pregnancies.

Islamic law is flexible, Abdelhadi said, and when it comes to making a decision about abortion, “people will consult with their families, their religious leaders, and then they’ll ultimately make a decision for themselves.”

“You’ll do what feels right,” she said….

“There’s been a sort of confused silence as [Muslim] folks try to figure out what they believe about this, or what Islam tells them about this,” said Abdelhadi, now a sociologist who studies Muslims in America. “I think what happens in a Christian-dominated space is that sometimes, even among Muslims, we don’t know what we believe.”

Recent passage of antiabortion legislation in Texas and other red states has led many to make comparisons to the Taliban’s iron-fisted control of women in Muslim-majority Afghanistan. Such comparisons are inaccurate and perpetuate Islamophobia, experts say, adding that this rationale minimizes the role of Christianity and other U.S. systems that led to Texas’ six-week abortion ban.

The American Muslim Bar Association and HEART Women and Girls in April released an 11-page statement, dubbed “The Islamic Principle of Rahma: A Call for Reproductive Justice,” declaring that as a religious minority, Muslim Americans “are uniquely positioned to condemn abortion bans and their attack on every person’s constitutional right to religious liberty.”

“Muslims are not a monolith and we don’t have a systemized and global authority that mirrors the papal system in Catholicism. We also don’t hold a uniform view on when life begins,” the statement read….

Cited are scriptural pieces from the Quran and the prophet Muhammad that address developmental stages of a fetus and that give “descriptions of how creation came to be,” Ayubi said.

The discussion of when life begins varies from 40 days, the point at which the prophet Muhammad says everyone is “constituted in the womb,” to 120 days, when the soul is believed to enter the fetus.

Among Muslim authorities, the most conservative opinion would say abortion is permitted as early as possible and only for health reasons before 120 days, Ayubi said. Contemporary Muslim jurists have universally said abortion is permissible even beyond 120 days “if there is mortal danger to the mother,” Ayubi added.

But even defining what constitutes mortal danger “is a nebulous kind of concept,” Ayubi said. This can include mental health concerns that, Ayubi said, “might lead to suicidal ideation.”

The Islamic tradition, Ayubi said, “is forgiving and on the side of mercy.”…

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