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Friday, July 13, 2012

IN SUPPORT OF PRESIDENT JONATHAN


                                                                       President Jonathan


I share the concern of President Jonathan over the hazards of demographic upsurge in Nigeria. I concur with him when he said, during his address at the swearing in of the newly-appointed chairman and commissioners of the National Population Commission (NPC) on Tuesday, June 26th,  2012, that: ‘For us to plan properly we must manage our population; but it is extremely sensitive; we are extremely religious people;…’


In the run-up to the 2011 elections I wrote on this page why I Will Not Vote For Him; I did not, and given the chance one hundred times, I will never vote for him. He, certainly, does not represent what I expect, or possess what I believe to be the qualities of a leader. But truth, wherever found, should be accepted, regardless of who speaks it, even if it be the devil himself!


Let me warn the reader that this piece is a moving truck; it will hit many people among the proponents and opponents of birth control (including Islamic scholars), and the arguments advanced by each group to buttress their position. I expect this presentation to elicit intellectual ripostes on the issue of contraception based on the basic sources of Islamic law. The Glorious Qur’an, for instance, does not contain any unequivocal statement for or against contraception. Those adversaries of family planning who quote verses from the Qur’an out of context as evidence of the prohibition of contraception should search for proof elsewhere and read very well the reason for the revelation of the verses. For example they put forward this verse:


kill not your children on a plea of want;- We provide sustenance for you and for them;-‘(Al An’aam 6:151).


And another one which states:


Kill not your children for fear of want: We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you. Verily the killing of them is a great sin.’ (Israa’eel17:31).


These verses were revealed in order to condemn and put an end to the inhuman practice of female infanticide which abounds during the time of (jaahiliyyah) ignorance, the pre-Islamic era. The female child was seen as ‘a liability to the family.’ Thus, as soon as they came into this world, ‘they were buried alive.’ In spite of the fact that female infanticide is proscribed by the authority of these verses, yet ‘no deduction may be made from this prohibition to condemn contraception. The latter is by nature different from infanticide. Infanticide is the actual killing of an already existing child, whereas contraception involves no killing and the supposed “child” does not yet exist. It is a common fact that during the process of reproduction only one sperm finally succeeds in fertilizing the ovum. Does this mean that all the other countless sperms that eventually die are dead children?’


The parting of the way, however, between me and the President is in making legislation out of birth control. This sound likescouples should be required to submit applications to have a child.’ You have no right to determine the size of my family. (jìhuà shēngyù zhèngcè; literally "policy of birth planning") is the one-child limitation in the population control policy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which restricts couples to having only one child, for the purposes of reducing ‘the demand of natural resources, maintaining a steady labour rate, reducing unemployment caused from surplus labour. This policy caused a number of social problems: forced abortions, female infanticide as each family prefers a male child, and thus creating another problem of gender imbalance. One wonders whether the religious scholars who cite China as ‘the largest developing country’ in the world in spite of its population, know what they are saying, or are aware of the one-child per family law? So, can one say then that China succeeded because of its population control? These same scholars say that ‘Ethiopia is one of the countries with smallest population but it is among the poorest.’ Do these scholars know about Brunei or Qatar?


The hatred that people show towards family planning programmes is not without genuine reasons, not the least the dark history associated with the infamous founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger whose ‘entire life's purpose was to promote birth control.’ This racist, devil incarnate ‘believed that light-skinned races were superior to dark-skinned races’, thus coined the term “birth control” in order "to create a race of thoroughbreds," and desiring ‘to exterminate the Negro population’. ‘Sanger espoused the thinking of eugenicists -- similar to Darwin's "survival of the fittest" -- but related the concept to human society, saying the genetic makeup of the poor, and minorities, for example, was inferior.’ Therefore, the goal was "to prevent the multiplication of bad stocks.” In Margaret’s position, blacks are "...human weeds,' 'reckless breeders,' 'spawning... human beings who never should have been born."  Her stance on motherhood is most bizarre: "I cannot refrain from saying that women must come to recognize there is some function of womanhood other than being a child-bearing machine." And that: "The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it."


How can people accept any message from Planned Parenthood Nigeria which is a franchise of Planned Parenthood Federation of America founded by Margaret Sanger? Why must we always cut-and-paste from the West? So, those who see family planning as a conspiracy against the developing nations are right afterall.


Muslims can proudly assert that even before the great grandmother of Margaret Sanger was born there was a contraceptive method in practice during the lifetime of the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) known as Al’azl (coitus interruptus). The literal meaning of al’azl is removal or separation. Technically, ‘it is used to describe the process of withdrawal by the man at the time of emission to prevent insemination of the ovum.’


Jabir narrates, ‘We used to practice ‘azl (coitus interruptus) in the Prophet’s lifetime while the Qur’an was being revealed.’ Another version of the same hadeeth reads, ‘We used to practise ‘azl during the Prophet’s lifetime and he was informed about this and did not forbid us.’


With the aid of modern biomedical sciences we now have other methods of conception other than ‘azl; some are reversible, like rhythm method, condom (sheath), intra-uterine device (I.U.D e.g loop), progestogen – pill only, etc.; others are not reversible; including tubal ligation, vasectomy and hysterectomy with which many doctors fool couples as being reversible whereas they succeed only in about half of the cases of reversal.


Both husband and wife have rights on the issue of the use of any method of contraception, thus their consent must be sought before its application. But Muslim scholars ‘unanimously agree it is not permissible to make use of any devices that might permanently incapacitate a person, either man or woman, from procreation whether or not either or both spouses consent.’ The danger of sterilizing anyone is grave and the wisdom of the Islamic position is very easy to see. When you sterilize a woman who has got some children; you are precluding a disaster that can decimate that family and in some cases wipe out that number in future. If such happens, will she get a new womb? Can anyone foresee the future or read the fortunes?


The Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN) has no scruples about sterilizing a woman without recourse to the husband. Indeed there have been cases of women sterilized “for their own good” without even their own consent.


The Glorious Qur’an encourages us have at least 30 months between the period of pregnancy and that of lactation: “…and his gestation and suckling are in 30 months” (Al Ahqaaf 46: 15). ‘The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years,’ (Al Baqarah 2:233). So, that gives a minimum of 6 months for pregnancy and 24 months for suckling. If this Qur’anic encouragement were to be followed, couples may end up with only 3 children in 10 years! But when I look around I see women given birth to 10 children in 10 years or even more.


I will not hesitate to use ‘azl, condom, pill or any form of reversible contraception where the life of my wife is threatened by potential pregnancy or if repeated pregnancies would weaken her body such that she can neither take care of the baby nor herself. I will also ‘family plan’ to grant my wife rest between pregnancies, thus giving her the chance to look 20 years younger than her contemporaries. But people are unreasonably averse to contraception no matter the reason, even where the woman’s health is threatened.


Take the case of a woman who is already suckling an infant; it would be harmful both for herself and her child if she became pregnant. Often times such women have recourse to contraceptive methods without the consent of their husbands. Many of the opponents of family planning do not know that their wives are already practicing one form of contraception or another, including the irreversible method which is haraam- courtesy of the growing number of discreet ‘family planning clinics’ made popular by Margaret Sanger.


Most of these women deem their husband’s finances are insufficient to support more children at the moment, but the husbands are obdurate. The Prophet said to Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqqaas (RA) when the latter intended to give all his wealth in charity: ‘O Sa’d,’ the Prophet said, ‘it is better to leave your heirs wealthy than for you to leave them poor, begging of people after your death…’ Some scholars do not sanction family planning on the basis of financial ability of parents to care for many children; they see that as disbelief in the providence of Allah, as every child comes to the world with its own sustenance. But others do not see the matter in that light. Parenthood, they said, is a responsibility about which Allah will ask couples. Discharging that duty carries with it the provision of life’s basic necessities to your offspring. Therefore, bearing issues beyond one’s ability is failing in parental responsibility. It is not ‘disbelief in the providence of Allah.’ Certainly, ‘Islam and common sense would not approve of married people with insufficient means continuing to beget children who could neither be fed nor given proper education.


There is another opinion that is right in between these two: spacing the children is to give the mother good health and the baby a chance to be nurtured properly before the next. The sustenance of the child came with it as Allah has mentioned and poverty is not a permanent aspect of a man’s life. Suppose a family were to have the means to support just two children; after the first child and the woman gets pregnant, what would they do if the new pregnancy turns out to be a set of triplets or more? Kill a few?


Only because the government does not know its role and it is thus not fulfilling it are we having such a large number of destitute people living in raw and abject poverty. If the government were to be alive to its responsibilities it would provide for its less privileged citizens and not advocate for their reduction and or elimination. It would hold itself to account and would do the needful to support the weak. Disguised eugenics will not work with a “deeply religious people”


Let the President know that Nigeria does not need family planning to be enacted as national policy. Education and effective advocacy will serve better purpose in enlightening the people.


As a bona fide resident of Abuja, one of the most expensive cities in the world, I need no one to tell me how many children I can take care of with regard to the type of education I would like them to attain; what school fees I can pay, and the standard of living to maintain. Given all the above, I will seek the understanding of my wife to prepare for long resting periods between pregnancies and planning our family with whatever form of contraception we choose according to the advice of our gynaecologist!

2 comments :

  1. Salaam brother,
    This is the first time that I started reading an article from the last paragraph to the first and I really enjoyed it.
    yakubufari@gmail.com

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  2. On occasions like this, you can't help but exclaim 'thank God Almighty, Nigerians are deeply religious people.' Without doubt, the mandate to increase, multiply and fill the earth embodies within it the responsibility of planning and managing human sexuality, procreation and population to ensure human flourishing. But there is a huge difference between private family planning decisions, which should be made between couples and their doctors, one one hand; and state-mandated population control, on the other hand. I have not read the President's address, but if he said what is quoted in your piece, I will disagree with his position that we--meaning the state--needs to "manage"--euphemism for (state) "control"--our population in order that we plan properly. What the state needs for planning is an accurate population census, not state mandated population control--under any guise. Advocates of population control begin from a faulty assumption that the human person is a problem to be solved instead of divinely endowed resource to be harnessed, empowered and unleashed to fulfill his/her divinely ordained flourishing. It bears repetition : "Nigeria does not need family planning to be enacted as national policy. Education and effective advocacy will serve better purpose in enlightening the people." Thanks again for using your voice.

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