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Approaches to family planning in Muslim communities
  1. Najat El Hamri, BA, LLM, Research and Policy Analyst
  1. Islamic Relief Worldwide, Policy and Research Unit, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Mrs Najat El Hamri, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Policy and Research Unit, 19 Rea Street South, Birmingham B5 6LB, UK. E-mail: najat.elhamri{at}irworldwide.org

Abstract

Addressing the cultural and religious beliefs around the issue of family planning has been a big challenge for the international development community. The concept of family planning has raised some concerns regarding its acceptability within Muslim populations. While some Muslim states and organisations have adopted a rather cautious approach to the issue, others have gone to the extent of inviting religious leaders to present religiously sound interpretations (fatwa) on the subject. Alongside these deliberations are some alarming statistics on maternal health. The World Health Organization estimates that worldwide 211 million women become pregnant each year and that about two-thirds of them deliver live infants. The remaining one-third of pregnancies end in miscarriage, stillbirth or induced abortion. Some 200 million women in developing countries have an unmet need for effective contraception. These statistics and the ongoing discussion surrounding family planning in the Muslim communities raise legitimate questions. How is family planning perceived within the Muslim community? Does Islam address the issue of family planning? Is it permissible? How should appropriate family planning programmes within Muslim settings be developed and applied? This article seeks to present the ongoing debate on family planning within the Muslim community and offer recommendations to organisations for effective strategy implementation of family planning programmes within Muslim settings. The article provides a brief background on the historical development of family planning in the Muslim community, and outlines Muslim perceptions on this issue. It concludes with recommendations for nongovernmental organisations on how to effectively implement acceptable family planning programmes within Muslim settings.

  • cultural beliefs
  • family planning
  • international development community
  • Muslim
  • religious beliefs

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