The Prophet (saw) encouraged us in an authentic hadeeth to have many children so he can be proud of our numbers. How then can we respond to a writer who supports birth control by using Imam Shafi's tafsir of ayah 3 in surah nisa where the Imam says "so you do not become overburdened with financial dependents''. That writer uses Imam Shafi's translation to support birth control and the having of less children. How can we respond to that assertion?
All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.
There is no doubt that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, encouraged us to have many children and he clarified that he will boast of our great number before the other communities on the Day of Judgment; this is the basic presumption and is supported by authentic textual evidence.
As regards birth control, it is a weak suggestion that does not have a sound basis. Trying to provide evidence for it from the Islamic texts is nothing more than artificiality or affectation. Please refer to Fataawa 84086 and 82154.
The statement that you mentioned about Imaam Ash-Shaafi‘i in regard to the interpretation of the verse was authentically traced back to him but some scholars refused this interpretation, among them Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and his student Ibn Al-Qayyim . There is no need for mentioning their statements here; if you need more details, you may refer to the Al-Fataawa Al-Kubra of Ibn Taymiyyah and to the ‘Uddat As-Saabireen of Ibn Al-Qayyim.
Moreover, most of the Tafseer scholars interpreted the last word in the third verse of Soorah An-Nisaa’ as meaning: so that you may not incline to injustice.
Ar-Raazi in his Tafseer and Ibn Hajar in Fat-h al-Baari explained that the meaning that Ash-Shaafi‘i held is correct while confirming the correctness of the first meaning held by the majority, namely that the last part of the verse means not to incline to injustice. Ar-Raazi clarified that there is no contradiction between the statement of Ash-Shaafi‘i and the statement of the majority if the statement of Ash-Shaafi‘i is understood as metonymy or an allusion, meaning that having many children may lead to injustice. Ar-Raazi said: “If the case is as such, then there is no question about it.”
Allaah Knows best.
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