Using hypnosis in childbirth
Fatwa No: 323695

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. My question relates to a childbirth preparation program known as hypnobabies. It uses self-hypnosis to relax the mother in birth so that she is less afraid and more relaxed and handles the pain of birth much better. It often makes labor faster as well. While there are drugs and epidurals to numb the pain of labor, those are not without risks. Hypnobabies allows a mother to increase her chances of having a drug free birth and prevent her and her baby being drugged at birth with medicine. It is not about putting your trust in someone other than Allaah or anything. It is just a technique that had been newly founeed to ease childbirth pain naturally, without medicine. The idea started with patients who are allergic to anesthesia and have to undergo certain procedures such as dental procedures that require anesthesia. Instead, they use self-hypnosis. So someone thought: why not use it for childbirth since it is also a painful and stressful event? It can be used in combination with supplication and asking Allaah for help and reciting Quran in labor. Is this method for pain management in childbirth permissible?

Answer

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 ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

Different fataawa have been issued about hypnosis. The reason that they are different is based on how hypnosis is classified. Some scholars classified it in the category of sorcery and magic and seeking the help of the jinn and accordingly declared it unlawful. Others classified it in the category of spiritual, scientific and psychological sciences and accordingly deemed it permissible in case it is used as treatment or the like and no sharee'ah violations are committed in the process. The following two fataawa underline this difference of opinion among scholars.

First, the fatwa of the Council of Senior Scholars in Saudi Arabia:

"Hypnosis is a type of soothsaying in which a hypnotist seeks the help of a jinni and makes him overpower the hypnotized person and talk through him. The jinni gives the hypnotized person power to do certain actions if that jinni agrees to obey the hypnotist and is truthful with him in return for mutual benefits. Accordingly, the jinni causes the hypnotized person to obey the hypnotist in any actions or give any information asked from him, if he is being honest with the hypnotist. It is, therefore, not permissible to use hypnosis to find a stolen or lost object, to cure a sick person, or to do anything else through a hypnotized person. In fact, this is shirk (polytheism), due to what was previously mentioned, and because it is resorting to other than Allaah in matters that are beyond those ordinarily permitted by Allaah for His Creation."

Second, the fatwa issued by Dr. ʻAbd Ar-Rahmaan ibn Ahmad ibn Faayiʻ Al-Jarʻi, Professor at King Khalid University, and published on the Islam Today website:

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The answer to the question can be summarized in the following points:

1) The correct term for this hypnosis is hypnotherapy (i.e. therapeutic use of hypnosis).

2) Some of the fataawa issued about the ruling on hypnosis were based on the wrong practices that are alien to the essence of hypnotherapy to begin with; revealing matters of the unseen and the use of the jinn are denied by the physicians and specialists who use hypnotherapy.

3) Therapeutic hypnosis is a known scientific field and its therapeutic and medical uses are known. It has a specific set of therapeutic uses, principles and foundations and has yielded many known medical achievements.

4) Therapeutic hypnosis is used to persuade the patient of the needed treatment which he would have refused in a normal situation. This kind of hypnosis is also used to build new positive convictions and attitudes to help the patient overcome his negative convictions and attitudes.

5) There are some wrong practices associated with therapeutic hypnosis, some of which involve prohibitions and sharee'ah violations. The prohibition is related to these impermissible practices and not hypnosis itself, as in the circus where magic and sorcery are used.

6) Therapeutic hypnosis as a treatment can be used for good purposes or evil ones. The ruling on persuading the person to do a given act or hold a given conviction depends on the permissibility of this act or conviction. If the conviction or act is good and lawful, the treatment is allowable; otherwise, it is not allowable."

Contemplating these two fataawa, one can realize that hypnosis refers to two types of practices, each one is different from the other. If it is based on the use of jinn, then it is forbidden, even if one's intention from it is good and it is used for good and lawful purposes. If it is based on inspiration and psychological practices and does not involve any prohibition, such as music, men and women meeting in seclusion or prohibited intermixing between men and women, for example, then it is permissible provided that it is used for something that is good, like treatment or the like of lawful purposes.

Allaah knows best.

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