In Summary
  • He was out to convince his fellow Muslims on need to embrace family planning.
  • Among the Muslims, family planning is highly considered a taboo, sometimes a sin.
  • Research done in Muslim dominated areas revealed that most of them shunned family planning for fear of going against the teachings of the Quran.
  • While temporally family planning methods are allowed within Islam, permanent methods like vasectomy and tubal ligation are totally prohibited.
  • It is a taboo in the Islamic faith for a woman to be touched by or discuss sexuality with a man even if he is a medical practitioner.

As he left Nakuru for Wajir, Sheikh Abduwahab Mursal knew all too well that he had a hard task ahead.

He was out to convince his fellow Muslims on need to embrace family planning.

Being a top religious leader in the county, Sheikh Mursal has great influence especially among the Muslims in the region.

“It will not be easy to convince my people, especially in the villages, to embrace modern-day family planning methods,” admitted Sheikh Mursal.

He was among more than 30 Muslim religious leaders who had gathered in Nakuru a week ago for a sensitisation meeting on the significance of family planning.

The gathering was aimed at demystifying family planning among Muslims.

TABOO

It emerged that among the Muslims, family planning is highly considered a taboo, sometimes a sin.

“Most Muslims believe it is a against Islam and their culture, but this is a misconception,” said Sheikh Mursal

According to Kenya Demographic Health Survey (2008-2009) only four per cent of married women in North Eastern Kenya used any contraceptive against the country’s prevalence of 46 per cent.

North Eastern Kenya is a Muslim dominated region which explains the low prevalence in the use of contraceptives, according to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The survey played a key role in initiating a programme by UNFPA that would educate Muslims on the significance of family planning, according to Ms Batula Abdi, a reproductive health programmes officer

“We had carried out research on what the Holy Quran says about children and found family planning is not condemned,” said Ms Abdi.

She said research done in Muslim dominated areas revealed that most of them shunned family planning for fear of going against the teachings of the Quran.

“Most Muslims believe that family planning is solely for economic reasons," said Sheikh Ibrahim Lethom, a legal officer at Kenya Council of Imams.

Sheikh Abduwahab Mursal. He is out to convince his fellow Muslims on the need to embrace family planning within the Islamic teachings. PHOTO/RACHEL KIBUI

Sheikh Abduwahab Mursal. He is out to convince his fellow Muslims on the need to embrace family planning within the Islamic teachings. PHOTO/RACHEL KIBUI

SPACING CHILDREN

“But they fail to consider the role they have in making sure that their children have good health by spacing them which obviously involves use of some family planning methods,” he added.

According to Sheikh Lethom, in ancient times, Muslims used Al-‘Azl (coitus interruptus) as a family planning method.

Al-‘Azl is the modern day withdrawal method of family planning.

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