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The Quran => General Discussions => : Reader Questions September 09, 2012, 08:03:55 PM

: A Question on Abortion
: Reader Questions September 09, 2012, 08:03:55 PM
Question asked on Joseph Islam's Facebook Page

Killing NAFS without a Just cause is Forbidden, and Nafs means any living being or Self, be it a tree, a microscopic insect or an animal. This meaning is taken from "Every NAFS shall have taste of death." That is to say, whatever dies, has NAFS. When sperm fartilizes an ovum, just then there appears a NAFS. But many sperm tissue naturally goes useless. It is natural and thus can not be a sin at least within marital spousal case.

Now the question is, Is killing that Nafs not that sin? Or is that not a Nafs? Or is that a Just cause?
: Re: A Question on Abortion
: Joseph Islam September 09, 2012, 08:30:01 PM
Salamun Alaikum.

I respectfully would not agree with your definition of 'nafs' being extended to objects such as trees and other animals / creatures etc.

I feel that reliance on verses such as 21:35 are unwarranted which clearly indicate that the reference of 'nafs' in these contexts are to the innate essence / soul granted to humans, whereby they are tested by evil and by good.

Trees are not tested in this way.

"Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial and to Us you will be returned“.

"And a soul (Arabic: Nafsin) and Him Who perfected / proportioned it (Arabic: wanafsin wama sawaha). And inspired it (with conscience of) what is wrong for it and (what is) right for it. He is indeed successful who causes it to grow (purifies it), and he is indeed a failure who corrupts it (buries it)"

Indeed, this does not mean that animals do not have some sort of innate essence or soul, but the Quran never makes use of the word 'nafs' to describe other created objects to possess such an essence apart from humans.

Furthermore and with respect, I would not support your assertion that a 'nafs' appears when a sperm fertilises an ovum. I find there is no proof for such an assertion in the Quran.

Rather, verse 46:15 mentions 'hamluhu' (bearing) and 'fisaluhu' (weaning) combined as 30 months. If we examine this together with verse 31:14 in which the time of 'fisaluhu' (weaning) only is given as 'amayni' (2 years / 24 months), we therefore get 'hamluhu' (bearing) of a 'nafs' as 6 months (30 months - 24 months). If we take 6 months away from the complete gestation period (9 months), we get the point at which 'nafs' / soul is possibly recognised (approximately 3 months after conception). 

Before that period the Quran does not 'appear' to recognise the creature to be with a 'nafs' or 'insaan' (human). Please see 23:14 which supports this as well.

I hope that helps, God willing.


: Re: A Question on Abortion
: Adil Husain September 11, 2012, 08:33:37 AM
Salamun alaikum  ,
During 4th week heart starts beating for the first time ,Tongue starts forming and dilatations for stomach is formed ,
During 5th week , brain starts to develop ,
During 6th week , intestinal loops are well formed,
During 7th week , eye lens and eye kids are formed , salivary glands(which produce saliva) starts developing, 
During 8th week , elbow , knee , fingers and toes are formed .

I have seen your references and it appears to be  3rd month(approximately 12th week) when new Nafs is formed [30-24=6] , [9-6=3]

Before 12th week of gestation ,some organs are developed and some have atleast started their development.

Since Quran is words of God , i think there is something wrong with 'our' understanding and analysis of the Quranic verses.
It becomes difficult to accept that heart starts beating during 4th week and new Nafs is formed at 12th week.

Dear Joseph sir , Please clear this issue because On the basis of this , some people can also interpret  that abortion is allowed before 3rd month.

: Re: A Question on Abortion
: Joseph Islam September 11, 2012, 11:02:51 AM
Dear brother Adil,

Peace to you.

You will have noted that my post was merely intended to part my view on the Quranic use of 'nafs' for humans and humbly contest the assertion that a soul existed at the point of human fertilisation or that the 'nafs' was ever used to describe other creatures of God.

I have not parted with any comments on the issue of abortion nor do I feel my post should be interpreted as ratifying early pregnancy termination. 

Nor indeed can I conclude whether the formation of certain body parts and their part functioning early in the gestation period provides conclusive proof that a soul is present.

I have merely cited evidence from the Quran and have intentionally refrained to interpret them in any particular way so as not to impose a particular worldview on them. I feel the Quran should always be ‘allowed to speak’ as opposed to be interpreted in a manner that fits our particular bias.

I hope that clarifies, God willing.


13th March 2013

This thread is now closed and a direct link to this post is now available at the dedicated Q&A page.