The lecture took place during a Madaris teachers’ training organized by the Provincial Peace and Development Program, at the capitol compound here Thursday.
“As a religion which aims to organize the life of its people, Islam fosters planning. The Qur’an has always emphasized that everything in this universe has been created according to a plan and law,” said Dr. Darwiza Ngilay-Guiomala, an obstetrician-gynecologist and a project physician of the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP).
“Islam has encouraged its people to increase and populate the earth but with the proviso that the quality should not be compromised,” she said, admitting, however, that “reproductive health is a relatively new concept among Muslims.”
“Everyone of you is a guardian and everyone of you is responsible for his flock,” Prophet Muhammad said, according to Guiomala citing some verses from the Holy Qur’an and the Hadith (way of life and teachings) of the Prophet of Islam.
“The father is in charge of his households and is responsible for those in his charge; and the wife is in charge of her husband’s households and is responsible for her charge.”
National data indicate that in the Philippines, 10 women die everyday from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, Guiomala said. Maternal mortality ratio (MMR) is found highest in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Northern Mindanao.
She cited that infant mortality rate in ARMM is also very high at 55 deaths per 1,000 live births compared to the national rate of 35 deaths per 1,000 live births.
The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo, Egypt in 1994 defined reproductive health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence or infirmity in all matters relating to reproductive system and to its functions and processes.”
According to the Assembly of Darul-Iftah of the Philippines, there is nothing objectionable in such definition and in the implications of reproductive health that people have the capability to reproduce, right to decide to fully and responsibly the number and spacing of their children, right to understand and enjoy their own sexuality within the legal frame of marriage, are able to have satisfying and safe sex life (with the legitimate spouse), and the right to remain free of disease or death associated with their sexuality and reproduction.
The 10 elements of reproductive health are: family planning; maternal and child health and nutrition; prevention of abortion and management of its complications; prevention and treatment of reproductive tract infections (RTIs) which cover sexually transmitted disease (STDs), human immune-deficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune-deficiency syndrome (AIDS); education and counseling on sexuality and sexual health; breast and reproductive tract cancers and other gynecological conditions; prevention and treatment of infertility and other sexual disorders; adolescent reproductive health (ARH) from puberty to adolescence); prevention of violence against women and children (VAWC); and male reproductive health.
Among these elements, family planning is considered as the most contentious.
But Guiomala said, “There is a difference between the policy of limiting reproduction and the policy of planning it,” adding that limiting reproduction to an absolute minimum or maximum through legislation is contrary to the laws of God, nature and human reason. Family planning neither refers to abortion nor to birth control, rather to birth or child spacing.”
According to Sheikh Shaltout, former Imam at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, family planning is not incompatible with nature, and is not disagreeable to national conscience and is not forbidden by Shariah (Islamic Law), if not prescribed by it and sought after.
“A thorough review of the Qur’an revealed no text prohibiting the prevention of pregnancy or diminution of the number of children. However, we can find many verses in the Qur’an prohibiting infanticide by any means,” said Sheikh Jadel Haq Ali Jadel Haq, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar.