CHILDLESSNESS IN MUSLIM SOCIETIES

Have a child or remain one[1]

In a book explaining Islam to children and teenagers it stated that it is the duty of Muslim women to be mothers. I was surprised that the author, a non-Muslim, had grasped what few of us seem to acknowledge openly: that Muslim women are compelled to be mothers, even though it is not an Islamic requirement.

In order to challenge this discourse, we need to examine the  status of motherhood and childlessness within an Islamic framework. How has the Islamic legal system led Muslims to believe that women’s only function is childbearing? This re-examination means re-evaluating the status of motherhood, children and parents, and, to some extent, the role of marriage. It must lead to a reflection on the ethics of reproduction: how far should we support the thinking of obligation to have a child?

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